Opposition to high-rise development in Northcote and Birkenhead rang out loud and clear at a public meeting called in response to a leaked council document.
Anxiety was evident as residents put their questions to Auckland Council chief planning officer Roger Blakeley who fronted the meeting organised by the Kaipatiki Local Board on January 26.
Highbury, Birkenhead and Northcote, including heritage areas, are among 14 sample neighbourhoods a council report suggested are suitable for intensive housing.
Auckland’s population is expected to increase by one million over the next 30 years and the council wants 75 percent of all new dwellings built in the next 30 years within existing suburbs to limit urban sprawl into rural areas.
Around 70 people attended the meeting including councillors George Wood and Ann Hartley and Hibiscus and Bays Local Board chairwoman Julia Parfitt.
Mr Blakeley stressed that the report offered different scenarios.
It was not a proposal, he says.
It’s important to keep all options open until councillors decide how best to cater for growth, he says.
Kaipatiki Local Board member Grant Gillon says the report seemed to offer proposals rather than scenarios.
He’s often seen scenarios turn into propositions, he says.
Birkenhead resident Malcolm Hall questioned why housing couldn’t go out and not up.
Mr Blakeley says the council opted for quality condensed housing.
“There are some bad examples in Auckland but we don’t want that.”
Mr Blakeley says there are three main reasons people want compact living.
Economically speaking greater density means better productivity, he says.
If the city is built out then there will be more infrastructure costs.
And it’s for lifestyle reasons, he says.
“One of the values people cherish about Auckland is its proximity to the coast and that they don’t have to drive kilometres and kilometres before they get to country living.”
Kaipatiki Local Board chairwoman Lindsay Waugh says there was good local interest at the meeting and some healthy debate.
Intensification will always cause concern but we have to look at other options to endless sprawl, she says.
“It has to come at some level.”
How, when and where is the debate, she says.
Renters face squeeze as Shore rents rise P3
– © Fairfax NZ News
Written by: LISA HONEYBONE
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times