Have a say on shopping centre

North Shore City Council is seeking public feedback on its $4 million makeover plans for Highbury Shopping Centre in Birkenhead.

Council principal planner urban design John Stenberg says the project aims to make the centre more vibrant, pleasant and more user-friendly for pedestrians and shoppers.

It is at the initial concept design stage and the council wants to consult the public over a number of options associated with each of the key areas for improvement – Rawene and Mokoia roads, Birkenhead Ave and Hinemoa St.

These were identified following a meeting with the Birkenhead Northcote Community Board, the Birkenhead Town Centre Association and the Birkenhead Residents Association.

Mr Stenberg says for Rawene Rd, the plan is to make it easier and more enjoyable for pedestrians to walk between the shopping area, Birkenhead Library and the Nell Fisher Reserve.

One option is to focus on narrowing the entrance to the road to create more public space and provide a seating area looking out towards the Waitemata Harbour.

A more comprehensive option involves creating a shared space for vehicles and pedestrians.

On Mokoia Rd, the council is looking at removing some car parks in front of the New Zealand Post and Telecom buildings to free up more space, install seats for pedestrians and carry out some landscaping to frame the space.

A number of options have been drawn up to improve the Birkenhead Ave, Hinemoa St and Mokoia Rd roundabout and make it safer for both motorists and pedestrians. One is to use the space outside 1-23 Mokoia Rd for a viewing area and installing a variety of facilities – median strips, pedestrian refuge islands and zebra crossings – to help people cross the road.

Another aims to emphasise the look and feel of the roundabout by having planter boxes and bollards to help define footpath and road areas.

The most extensive option involves removing the roundabout and installing three signalised pedestrian crossings.

There is also a proposal to convert the council-owned site on 35-41 Birkenhead Ave into a public viewing space with cafes or food stalls overlooking Ley Roys Bush reserve.

The project team will be at the Birkenhead Library on August 17-19, from 1pm-5.30pm to respond to any questions from the public.

Submissions, which close on August 27, should be mailed to North Shore City Council Transport Services, Private Bag 93500, Takapuna, 0740 or made online at www.northshorecity.govt.nz/highburymainstreets.

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Written by: JODEAL CADACIO.
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Le Roys Bush and Little Shoal Bay Management Committee

The Le Roys Bush Management Committee works closely with the Parks Department of Auckland Council to support the following projects in the Le Roys Bush and Little Shoal Bay reserves:

  • Ecological management within the reserve to preserve native biodiversity
  • Beyond the Fence – working with neighbours on invasive pest plants & animals
  • Walking tracks and linkages with other bush reserves
  • Public education to help people understand and enjoy the reserve
  • Stream, native fish and gecko protection – with local schools and stakeholders

How can you help?

Many of us find working in the bush a very rewarding way to learn more about our native environment, to enjoy working in the open air and to return something to our local community.

If you’d like to get our newsletters or to help in any way, please see our website or get in touch

Email: LeRoysBush@gmail.com
Web site: LeRoysBush.org.nz

$14m “panic” spend-up

FAST-TRACKED: Replacing sand at Little Shoal Bay, pictured, and Halls Beach will cost $1.5m.

Up to $14 million of ratepayer money will be “frittered away” on parochial projects in a panicked spend-up before the supercity arrives, says Shore councillor Chris Darby.

Councillors outside the mayor’s so-called A-team challenged the spending plans for money from the sale of former council works department land in Albany.

Mayor Andrew Willliams says the money will go to “legacy community projects” that will benefit all Shore residents.

“Choosing between risking the survival of many of these long-planned community projects under the new Auckland Council or disposing of the old works site to guarantee their completion was an easy choice to make,” says Mr Williams.

But some councillors disagree.

Councillors Ann Hartley and Chris Darby say the process was based on political whims rather than proper analysis.

It’s not the way to run a $4 billion to $5 billion business. It’s panic stations,” says Mr Darby.

Mrs Hartley says the mayor threw her out of a debate in confidential on the issue after she challenged the selection process.

Just over $4m is being spent on three projects that shouldn’t be on the list, she says.

Instead, the council left off vital spending on air conditioning and insulation at the North Shore Events Centre which is used by 300 children for basketball alone, she says.

Resanding Little Shoal Bay and Halls Beach isn’t a priority and the Auckland Regional Council is challenging the worth of similar projects, Mrs Hartley says.

Money to buy land to protect bush isn’t a priority project either because there are hundreds of opportunities but the council struggles to care for existing reserves, she says.

A council contribution towards the Takapuna exhibition centre is a drop in the bucket because $9m needs to be raised, says Mrs Hartley.

Mr Williams says Mrs Hartley, a former mayor, Northcote MP and deputy speaker in Parliament, was being disruptive and ignored rulings from him as mayor.

Mr Williams says there “has been a full process that commenced on October 20, 2009, and all councillors had the choice to do their best for the city and their communities”. He says it’s common for councillors who lose the vote to claim due process wasn’t followed to revisit decisions or claim an initiative is a pet project “until their favoured initiative arrives on the council agenda”.

Strategy and finance committee chairman Grant Gillon says some councillors didn’t attend meetings where they could have put projects forward and complained afterwards. It would be hard to describe it as a spending spree because projects had to be already in train, says Mr Gillon. Bringing the projects forward and paying cash will reduce debt and interest payments in the future.

The council is due to seek tenders for the former works department land soon. The Auckland Transition Agency has approved the sale.

Mr Williams says the agency agrees in principle with the project list as long as they are cost neutral.
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They were presented for formal approval on Wednesday.

Projects identified for fast-tracking include:

Hurstmere Green redevelopment and visitor centre relocation, Takapuna $1 million

Highbury Town Centre upgrade, Birkenhead $1.5m

Shore Exhibition Centre, Takapuna $1.5m

North Harbour Stadium broadcasting and ticketing improvements $425,000

New footbridge for the Devonport-Takapuna walkway and green cycleway $200,000

Torpedo Bay walkway, Devonport, stage one, Sanders Reserve track, Paremoremo and other walkway upgrades $1m

Greenhithe skateboard park, Collins Park $150,000

Beach Haven Civic Square development $750,000

Birkenhead/Northcote community co-ordinator accommodation $600,000

ActivZone upgrade, Glenfield $650,000

Takapuna Aquatic Centre and leisure centre upgrades $800,000

Sand replenishment at Little Shoal Bay and Halls Beach $1.5m

New public toilets at Rosedale Park, Eskdale Reserve, Sunnynook Reserve $1.5m

Purchase of some reserve land for bush protection $1.2m.

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Written by: LIZ WILLIS
Photo/s by: BEN WATSON
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Teacher’s lab a local stream

FISH DUTY: Northcote College teacher Kit Hustler is monitoring the Little Shoal Bay stream for fish in his spare time.

Kit Hustler is passionate about Little Shoal Bay. He has been monitoring fish in the Little Shoal Bay stream since August last year.

The Northcote College teacher says they have a nice stream on their doorstep and the project is about finding out what’s going on in it.

“People said there were fish in there but nobody knew how many, what type or what they’re doing there.”

So he set about monitoring the stream with several of his students.

Some of them have now left the college but continue to help in their spare time.

They have been catching fish, weighing and photographing them before returning them to the water.

“It’s not high-tech stuff. If we want to protect them, we’ve got to know what’s there.”

But Mr Hustler says the more they do, the less they know.

“Anything we discover raises two or three more questions.”

He has discovered there are about six species of fish in the stream with the largest measuring about 22cm long.

“They’re obviously making a living here.”

He believes the fact they’re surviving in the stream is a testament to how well people in the area are treating the water.

Mr Hustler has been studying the impact gambusia – mosquito fish – have on other fish and is trying to discover if there is a pattern to which types of fish are located in particular parts of the stream.

They are also using temperature probes to assess any changes in water temperature.

Mr Hustler has been teaching at Northcote College for nine years and says it’s great to have a “lab” on the doorstep.

He says the plan is to get more kids involved because the project is a real biology lesson.

“That’s the attraction, we don’t actually know the answers,” he says.

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Written by: LISA HONEYBONE
Photo/s by: BEN WATSON
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Confusion over speed limit in reserve

Legal processes have been bypassed in the speed change proposal for a well-used road in Little Shoal Bay, authorities say.

Public feedback is being collated on North Shore City Council’s proposed speed change of 20kmh for a 100- metre section of road that runs through the reserve.

Currently the section of road has a 30kmh limit, as do 100-metre stretches of road at either side of the reserve, council transport infrastructure group manager Alan Wallace says.

But under the reserve’s bylaw which was established in the early 1990s, the limit should be 20kmh. This is supported by residents who made submissions at the time, councillor Tony Holman says.

Mr Holman, with support from councillors, is pushing for the speed reduction which has been subject to much debate and was put off for almost 20 years.

But they have not complied with a NZ Transport Agency setting of speed limits rule which requires it to consult with police and the New Zealand Transport Agency.

There is confusion as to whether the land should be treated as a legal road or reserve, Mr Wallace says.

It already has restrictions on heavy vehicles.

“It’s quite a unique situation that the road runs through a reserve,” he says.

“The land is designed as a reserve. There’s issues over what is its purpose. It’s an important road link.”

The 100-metre section is too small to impose the 20kmh limit, whereas the current 300-metre stretch of 30kmh is more appropriate, he says.

“It’s not long enough for police to observe,” he says of the proposed 20kmh limit.

Council parks policy and planning adviser Ezra Barwell says it’s up to councillors to decide what process they want to follow.

Advice from council’s transport infrastructure department will be presented along with public submissions to the council’s regulatory committee within the next few months, he says.

“What’s going to come out in this debate is whether the whole process is flawed.”

Shore resident and former mayor George Wood says council had been going through a “cack-handed” process and that about 6000 residents who may use the road could be affected.

In an email to Mr Wood, New Zealand Transport Agency legal counsel Emma Petersen said the council would need consent from the conservation minister but would be unlikely to get it if the setting of speed limits rule was not complied with.

“Despite the fact that the land used as a road is within a reserve, it is still under the control of the council, is available to the public and has been used as a road for at least 30 years.”
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NZTA plans to follow it up with the council, she said.

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Written by: MICHELLE ROBINSON
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Limit cut to 20kmh

A well-used road that runs through Little Shoal Bay Reserve is set for a speed reduction.

The move by North Shore City Council is to increase safety for park users in response to public concern, council community services and parks committee chairman Tony Holman says.

Shore resident and former mayor George Wood says the change from 30kmh to 20kmh will affect about 6000 residents.

It is being carried out in “the most cack-handed way”, he says.

The Land Transport Rule 2003 – Setting Speed Limits has strict requirements that police and the New Zealand Transport Agency should be consulted, Mr Wood says.

“It would also be interesting to know how much more air pollution is caused by cars accelerating from a slower speed when climbing the steep grade at the bottom of Maritime Tce.”

The section affected is not a legal road and is governed under the Reserves Act 1977, council parks policy and planning manager Terry Baxter says.

The land has been a reserve for more than 100 years, including at least 50 years before the harbour bridge was built when there was little traffic in the area.

Through-traffic has been the subject of much debate and councillors could have proposed a traffic ban for the land which runs close to a popular playground and boat haul area, she says.

Mr Holman says the Birkenhead-Northcote Community Board voted unanimously in favour of the reduction, as did the majority of councillors in a recent committee meeting.

A management plan for the area was drawn up in the 1990s and public submissions then pushed for lowered speed, which finally looks set to happen, he says.

He likens the land to Cornwall Park where special rules apply to traffic.

“I cannot believe anyone would want to increase danger to park users for a few seconds difference in travel time.”

Speed reduction submissions close on February 10.

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Written by: MICHELLE ROBINSON
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Countdown to library launch

GETTING READY, above: The new Birkenhead library opens on December 17. An official opening will be held in February when work in Nell Fisher Reserve is finished.

Next week Birkenhead library users can at last set foot in a new $9 million library.

The library’s manager, Sharron Cleghorn, predicts people will love the building so much they won’t want to leave.

Mrs Cleghorn says it’s one of the few buildings that’s been constructed for the North Shore City Council that will be absorbed into the Auckland supercity next year.

Birkenhead’s old library in the heart of Highbury was demolished just over four years ago.

Major resource consent issues were the main cause of the lengthy delay before construction could begin.

On Friday at 5.30pm the temporary library closes and book lovers can look forward to visiting their new library from 10am on December 17.

A formal public opening ceremony is due to be held in February when landscaping in the surrounding Nell Fisher Reserve is finished.

The full cost of the project is about $9m, says Ms Cleghorn.

Construction costs accounted for $7.3m and a further $1.7m is being spent on fittings and books.

Visitors can look forward to enjoying stunning views across the Waitemata Harbour towards west Auckland, Auckland city and back to Devonport.

The new library reflects the fact that libraries are places of learning and recreational reading, says customer services team leader Megan Hayward.

Ms Hayward says the library has extensive studying space.

A community learning librarian will help provide programmes such as helping migrants with literacy skills.

Other features also include a drive-through dropoff point for library books, meeting space for small community groups and larger display space for the Birkenhead and Chelsea Sugar archives.

The North Shore Library Foundation is sponsoring three sculptures by Jeff Thompson that will be up in the reserve outside the library early next year.

Friends of Birkenhead Library and the foundation have also provided a commemorative book recognising library supporters over its 60-year history.

The new library’s opening and future supporters will also be acknowledged.

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Photo/s by: BEN WATSON
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – The North Shore Times

Wetland weeds get the chop

Maritime Terrace project leader Adrian Meys of Birkenhead plants native trees at a property where wattles and monkey apple trees have been felled and injected to stop them growing again.DIGGIN IN: Maritime Terrace project leader Adrian Meys of Birkenhead plants native trees at a property where wattles and monkey apple trees have been felled and injected to stop them growing again.

Residents concerned at the spread of weeds in the Little Shoal Bay wetland and surrounding bush reserve have banded together to do something about it.

Every month, a working bee has been gathering to save native trees and emerging shrubs from morning glory which has already killed off a number of treeferns.

Rafts of wild ginger have been cut back and treated and in their place shrubs, flax and other natives have been planted.

Local resident Adrian Meys has been talking with others about getting rid of the source of the worst problem in and around the wetland, Australian wattles, whose seeds spread around the wetland in their thousands.

Recently residents and property owners planted about 800 native trees in the area to improve the environment and reduce the risk of the wattle and acmena seeds spreading across the wetland again.

If you are interested in helping, contact the local volunteer group by phoning Adrian on 419-4977 or Keith on 021-240-9414.

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Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Work starts on new library

UP AND AWAY: The first walls of the Birkenhead library are in place.UP AND AWAY: The first walls of the Birkenhead library are in place.

After a number of unanticipated delays, construction of the Birkenhead library is well under way.

Precast panels for the walls of the first floor have been lifted into place by crane, giving residents an insight into the dimensions of the long-awaited development.

Behind the scenes the library’s furniture has also been completed and technological details are being looked at.

The project is a week behind schedule after huge amounts of rock and rubble were found when excavating, causing developers to have to dig deeper, Birkenhead library project manager Sharron Cleghorn says.

A land slip at the edge of the reserve also contributed to the unexpected seven-day delay because the ground had to be stabilised before it could hold a crane, Ms Cleghorn says.

Council community services and parks committee chairman Tony Holman is disappointed that the project has not been brought back up to schedule.

“We’ve had a very long stretch of fine, dry weather,” he says.

“I really do hope that it can be made up.”

He was surprised that such delays were not accounted for in planning as the project has already long been in the pipeline.

“It’s quite ironic really, we’ve been without if for all this time and I think it will be ready in time to hand over to the new Auckland city,” he says.

But he still maintains that the library and social services complex will do well to meet the needs of the community.

Ms Cleghorn says there are always unexpected incidents associated with projects of this size but the complex is still expected to be complete by late December or early 2010.

But these delays are nothing compared with what the project has gone through in the past.

There have been lengthy delays since demolition of the old library began in 2005, with independent commissioners initially declining resource consent for the new library to be built on Nell Fisher Reserve.

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Written by: MICHELLE LOTTER
Photo/s by: BEN WATSON
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Apartment block declined

A resounding “no” verdict has been delivered on apartment block plans for Birkenhead’s heritage zone.

Independent commissioners turned down a controversial application for 18 apartments and four businesses at 83 Hinemoa St last week.

They say the Aptus Projects development would have adverse effects which could not be “avoided, remedied or mitgated”.

Its design fails to produce a functional building despite efforts to comply with the district plan, their statement says. The decision flies in the face of North Shore City Council officers who supported Aptus Projects’
plans.

Birkenhead Residents Association member Carol Scott says it reflects poorly on the council.

It has been ill-served by the officers saying the effects of the application would be “minor”, she says.

“Hundreds of locals gave time and money to all pull together and fight for what they believe is in the best interests for the area.

“A victory for the community.”

Developer Richard Beca says he is “extremely disappointed” with the decision and is considering appealing to the Environment Court.

It is very unusual for commissioners to go against the recommendations of so many council officers, he says.

“They have found against expert evidence without countering expert evidence. It’s going to be hard for us not to challenge that.”

He worked with the council from 2005 to develop the application and employed the services of several planners.

“Where they told us to change things, we changed them. When you’ve got positive reports from council, what else do you have to do?”

North Shore mayor Andrew Williams says he is delighted the development has been declined.

It would have caused carparking and traffic woes and was ill suited to the heritage area it was in, he says.

Aptus Projects applied for 20 apartments at the former Hinemoa St petrol station in 2005 but withdrew it after 440 residents submitted in opposition.

A revived 18-apartment application again drew widespread condemnation in 2007.

More than 500 submitted against it, including heritage architect Jeremy Salmond, North Shore mayor Andrew Williams and TV chef Annabelle White.

Mr Beca requested an adjournment to the hearing to again revise his design, but that has now been turned down.

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Written by: HAYDEN DONNELL
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times