Lowdown on high-rise

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

Credits

Written by: LISA HONEYBONE
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

It’s high-rise horror

NO WAY: Community opposition would stop high rise apartments replacing heritage houses, Kaipatiki Local Board chairwoman Lindsay Waugh and deputy chairman Nick Kearney say.NO WAY: Community opposition would stop high rise apartments replacing heritage houses, Kaipatiki Local Board chairwoman Lindsay Waugh and deputy chairman Nick Kearney say.

High rise across Auckland is being touted as a way to solve the region’s housing crisis but massive opposition is expected.

Browns Bay, Highbury, Birkenhead and Northcote, including heritage areas, are among areas said to be ripe for controversial 13 to 25-metre high apartment blocks.

Publicised court battles against high rise have been fought in each suburb and residents are already fighting a 12-storey development at Milford mall.

Takapuna and Albany, which already have numerous apartments, were last year identified by the council as playing a key role in accommodating population growth.

Auckland Council wants two-thirds of all new dwellings built in the next 30 years within existing suburbs to limit urban sprawl into rural areas.

The council’s draft Auckland Plan says 300,000 new dwellings are needed over the next 30 years.

But a new report commissioned by the council states existing zonings only allows for 45,000 to 60,000.

Substantial zone changes to allow intensive housing in the entire Auckland urban area, including coastal sectors, would be needed to reach anywhere near 300,000, the report says.

Massive opposition from residents and politicians could be expected, the report authors consultants Studio D4 and Jaxmax say.

The report suggests 14 neighbourhoods that it believes are suitable for intensive housing.

Shore areas include Browns Bay, Birkenhead/Highbury and a small part of Unsworth Heights.

Apartments of up to 25 metres are suggested for town centres and other suitable urban areas could be rezoned up to 13 metres, the report says.

“Big opportunities” for apartments also exist at Northcote Pt and Birkenhead Pt near ferry services and coastal Browns Bay town centre sites, it says.

Hibiscus-Bays Local Board chairwoman Julia Parfitt says many people will find the Browns Bay proposals alone “quite alarming”.

Doubling the height rules near the Browns Beach beachfront reserve would allow a 25-metre building to shade one of Auckland’s busiest parks, Mrs Parfitt says.

She doesn’t oppose high-rise development but says it’s essential it’s of a quality design and that infrastructure can cope.

Kaipatiki Local Board chairwoman Lindsay Waugh says it would be horrific if high-rise apartments went into North Shore’s heritage areas.

Mrs Waugh says it’s important there is debate nationally about population growth and how to accommodate it.

She doesn’t favour further urban sprawl.

Kaipatiki deputy chairman Nick Kearney says the report will go down “like a bucket of cold sick” in Birkenhead.

Concerns would include existing congestion at Onewa Rd which wouldn’t cope with a large influx in population, he says.

Mr Kearney supports more development outside urban limits.

Shore councillor Ann Hartley says the report is “theoretical” and large-scale intensive housing would not go ahead in heritage areas.

She says the council is getting more information about how to deal with growth and whether accommodating 70 percent within urban limits will work.

The council doesn’t want to see the haphazard infill housing development that happened in the past repeated, she says.

North Shore councillor George Wood says a major rethink on intensification proposals is needed.

Intensive development would have a big impact on the village atmosphere of traditional town centres like Birkenhead, Browns Bay and Milford, he says.

Howick councillor Dick Quax says he was stunned when he saw “hardly an old house left standing” in Birkenhead on maps in the report.

The impact on views, heritage, trees and Onewa Rd congestion would be enormous, he says.

“I’m not against intensification but the community needs to agree it’s a good thing for the area and it must be good quality.”

Barfoot & Thompson managing director Peter Thompson says Aucklanders still like quarter acre sections which are becoming more scarce and apartments are becoming more popular.

But he says you won’t see Surfers Paradise style development in Auckland.

Mr Thompson says well-designed apartments with a limited number of floors are in demand.

– © Fairfax NZ News

Credits

Written by: LIZ WILLIS
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Ferry numbers double

Patronage on ferry services has doubled thanks to increased sailings.

Auckland Transport and Fullers are trialling extra ferry services to and from Birkenhead, Northcote Point and Bayswater.

Auckland Transport manager public transport operations Mark Lambert says passenger numbers since the beginning of the trial on December 17 have doubled compared to the same weekends the previous year.

“Feedback from customers has been positive with most comments being about how the improved timetable gives people more options for travel into Auckland central,” Mr Lambert says.

“Some passengers have been asking about an even later sailing to the North Shore,” he says.

Mr Lambert says the best patronage was over Christmas weekend.

There were around 600 passenger trips on both Boxing Day and the day after.

Ferry users have been encouraged to take advantage of the 11-week trial in the hope of seeing the timetable extended.

It runs until February 26 and was developed after residents asked for more services over the weekends.

Mr Lambert says a detailed analysis is yet to be done and it’s too early to say whether the trial will be extended.

Visit www.fullers.co.nz for timetable information on services.

Credits

Written by: LISA HONEYBONE
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Harbour crossing is biggest concern

A second harbour crossing is still one of Northcote resident’s biggest concerns for their neighbourhood.

The Northcote Residents Association held a meeting on December 6 and invited guest speakers to bring residents up to date with recent developments in the area.

Chairman Brian Plimmer says there have been some very positive comments about the nature and level of information given at the meeting.

The large majority of attendees voted for a tunnel from Esmonde Rd as a preferred option to a second bridge. But residents don’t want to wait 20 years for it.

The New Zealand Transport Authority has said it won’t ask the Kaipatiki Local Board to make a preference over the preferred form until it has heard what the Auckland Plan states as a firm preference.

NZTA regional director Stephen Town says it will be about 20 years before Auckland has a second harbour crossing.

“It’s not the first project off the blocks in the Auckland Plan,” he says.

NZTA senior transport planner Patrick Kelly says it is looking at the option of a combined tunnel with separate road and rail.

A report is due back about February that will confirm the feasibility, he says.

Residents were also told noise reduction measures will not be put into place after testing off the bridge showed it does not exceed levels in the noise guidelines.

A majority of residents are still concerned about the Onewa Rd T3 lane and voiced concerns that it should be reduced to a T2 lane to move more traffic.

Auckland Transport reviewed the situation during a region-wide study of transit and bus lanes and says it works and will remain.

It says changing to a T2 lane would mean more traffic in that lane than the general lane.

One resident says a trial of a T2 lane is needed to properly assess it against a T3.

If people have to wait another 20 years for a second harbour crossing, then something needs to be done now about congestion on Onewa Rd, he says.

Another resident says further studies should be undertaken about the feasibility of changing the T3 lane to a T2 when the Victoria Park project is complete.

Credits

Written by: LISA HONEYBONE
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Hidden council message

Vital council information was buried inside a pile of junk mail easily thrown away, Shore residents’ groups say.

“It was not their brightest decision,” Birkenhead Residents Association spokesman Warwick Jones says.

Mr Jones was among those who didn’t see the draft local board plan information arrive in his letterbox.

That’s because it was tucked inside an advertising brochure along with other advertising material, he says.

Mr Jones retrieved his copy from his recycling bin days later after someone pointed out how it had been sent.

People with no junk mail stickers could have missed out altogether, he says.

It may have been a cheap way to deliver the information but it didn’t work, Mr Jones.

He urges the council to deliver the information separately in future.

Castor Bay Residents and Ratepayers Association secretary Fiona Downes understands it was a problem across the Shore.

“It needs to be delivered separately because it was a waste of money the way they did it,” Ms Downes says.

She says the council probably expect it to be delivered in the way it was and people were still aware of the submission process through other means.

Auckland Council says external companies deliver council publications and it monitors delivery carefully so improvements are made.

“The method of delivery is extremely cost effective, especially when compared to the cost of posting an addressed summary to every resident,” the council says.

The council admits sometimes its mailers are put inside advertising material in error.

The fact they’re not personally addressed also means they’re less likely to be read, it says.

Although hand delivery was the main method of distribution, information was also available at libraries and council service centres.

Credits

Written by: LIZ WILLIS
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Not just for kids: Find a fitness playground near you

Parks aren’t just for the children, with many offering exercise equipment to keep all ages happy, writes Susan Edmunds.

If you want a good cardiovascular and strength-training workout without the cost of a gym membership, the answer could be at the end of your street. There are lots of parks and reserves around Auckland that offer free fitness equipment. Look for a fitness trail to work out some extra muscles while you run or weights to lift to keep you burning calories while your children are on the playground. Get some friends together and make a fitness date to check out a different park each week.

Panmure Basin

With a 3.6km, mostly flat track around the Panmure lagoon, this is a really popular spot for the city’s runners and walkers. You can increase the intensity of your workout by stopping at some or all of the fitness trail stations around the circuit. There are 11 in total, including chin-ups, pull-ups, a log jump, parallel bars, step-ups, beam jumps, an overhead ladder and sit-ups. Ten repetitions on each of these as you run around the circuit will give an excellent full-body workout.

Rocket Park

Exercise equipment manufacturer Don Oliver installed workout gear at Rocket Park in Mt Albert a few years ago, so parents could get fit at the same time as their kids made use of the extremely popular playground. Anyone over 11 can use the gear to do everything from cycling and bench presses to tricep dips and sit-ups on the brightly coloured equipment. From time to time, YMCA Mt Albert, which is also based in Rocket Park, offers free classes in the park – Zumba classes in February were really popular.

Craig Avon

With a pretty track through native bush and alongside a stream, the only drawback with doing the fitness trail at Craig Avon in Blockhouse Bay is that you might find yourself dodging canine hurdles as well as those on the exercise stations. The park is a really popular off-leash area, so if you have a dog, it is the perfect place to go to exercise. The circular track is about a kilometre long and includes eight fitness stations along the way. Because the trees offer some shelter, it’s an all-weather outdoor exercise option.

Marlborough Park, Glenfield

Marlborough Park is one of the most popular parks on the North Shore for skateboarders but it has also become really popular with elderly residents since adult exercise equipment, worth about $28,000, was installed. On offer is an airwalker, which is a kind of low-impact cardio exercise machine that mirrors the movements of walking, a leg press and a multistation that allows people to strength-train lots of different muscle groups. There’s also a standard playground to keep the kids entertained while you work out.

Grey Lynn Park

Although Grey Lynn Park is probably best known for its free paddling pool – supervised in summer months – the park’s “fitness zone” is a good option for adults wanting to get some exercise in. It’s recently had a $100,000 upgrade. At the Dryden St entrance there are stations for doing tricep dips, a chin-up bar and a sit-up bench. All of them have suggestions on how to do the exercises and use the equipment. Older equipment, including old-style chin-up bars, has now been removed and the council has opted for a station, rather than a circuit, approach for the park. To round off your workout, take a stroll or jog along one of the tracks.

Outdoor workouts

Check out other parks near you with fitness trails or exercise equipment:

Central: Fowlds Park, Michaels Ave (Ellerslie), Walker Park (Pt Chevalier), Western Park (Ponsonby)

North Shore
: Normanton Reserve (Glenfield), Unsworth Reserve, Rosedale Park and Rook Reserve (Albany), Greenslade and Cadness Reserves (Northcote) and Shepherds Park (Beach Haven).

South: Meadowland and Somerville Parks (Howick), Logan Carr Reserve (Botany), Howick Domain, David Lange Park (Mangere), Ngati Otara Park (Otara), Jellicoe Park (Manurewa), Rotary Walkway (Pakuranga).

* Have we missed one?

Credits

Written by: Susan Edmunds
Photo/s by:Supplied
Source: NZ Herald – nzherald.co.nz | 5:30 AM Saturday Jul 2, 2011
Email life@nzherald.co.nz

Library scoops awards

WINNER: The Birkenhead Library and Civic Centre has won two prizes at the 2010 Auckland Architecture Awards.WINNER: The Birkenhead Library and Civic Centre has won two prizes at the 2010 Auckland Architecture Awards.

THE Birkenhead Library and Civic Centre is among top winners in the 2010 Auckland Architecture Awards.

It won both the Public Architecture and Sustainable Architecture awards and was praised for the “control and manipulation of its natural light and air flow”.

Judges also praised the way the library has successfully reinvigorated community library use by offering a “warm expansive space that neither intimidates its users nor trivialises its function”.

“The role of libraries is changing and this really expresses the varied uses and different qualities of the modern library, including a drive-through book return,” architect and judging panel convener Daniel Marshall says.

The awards organised by the New Zealand Institute of Architects attracted a high number of entries, with 120 submissions.

Mr Marshall says the standard of entries shows that very high quality and exciting architect-designed buildings are being built across Auckland despite the economic recession.

“Through 10 years’ involvement in the awards, I have seen a considerable improvement in the quality of architecture in New Zealand,” Mr Marshall says.

“Part of the reason for that is economic and part is down to a wider understanding among clients of the importance of quality design.”

He says media and the internet also provide opportunities for wider and faster exposure to global ideas.

Mr Marshall was joined on the jury by Auckland architects Andrew Lister and Kate Rogan, University of Auckland School of Architecture and Planning head Sarah Treadwell and architectural photographer Patrick Reynolds.

Credits

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

Run-down beach gets a spruce-up

Little Shoal Bay Beach clean upFor almost 31 years Northcote resident Tony Sharrock has been cleaning up what was once a run-down beach.

“As a little boy in the 1950s it was a run-down beach, now it serves up to 70,000 people,” he says of Little Shoal Bay.

Before it got cleaned up a lot less people would visit Northcote’s only beach.

On Sunday, November 1, he will again be preparing the beach for summer, as he has done each year since 1978, he says.

He is joined by Birkenhead and Northcote Pt residents, though a North Shore Times article last year also drew residents from Takapuna and Devonport, he says.

“We want it to be a better place for the whole of Auckland.

“It’s a place of beauty and it’s a children’s place.”

Run by Northcote Residents’Association, the event is now supported by the Auckland Regional Council Eco Project, and the ARC are providing sausages for a barbecue for volunteers on the day. Fellow supporter Northcote Tavern is also providing drinks for volunteers.

Children are encouraged to take part and participants must wear sturdy shoes and hats, while gloves and bags are provided.

The clean-up is on at 2pm to 4pm on Sunday, November 1, meeting at Sea Scout Hut and Halls Beach Changing Shed. For inquiries contact Mr Sharrock on 419-7430 or 021-708-274.

Credits

Written by: MICHELLE LOTTER
Photo/s by: WARWICK JONES (not part of original article)
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Faux facade placates apartment opposition

HERITAGE DESIGN: A new design for apartments at 83 Hinemoa St, Birkenhead, has been approved.HERITAGE DESIGN: A new design for apartments at 83 Hinemoa St, Birkenhead, has been approved.

A faux heritage design has appeased concerns about the impact of a development on a Shore suburb known for its historic character.

More than 400 residents opposed an apartment block and office units at 83 Hinemoa St when the first plans were released in 2005.

Numerous design changes failed to resolve concerns about the visual impact of the multi-storey development on the surrounding houses in a protected heritage zone.

In 2009 independent hearing commissioners declined the Aptus Projects development and the company appealed the decision to the Environment Court.

Mediation talks involving the developer, North Shore City Council and residents opposing the plans have now resolved the appeal.

Aptus now has resource consent to build 11 residential units on the Hinemoa St site using a design agreed to between the parties.

Deputy mayor Julia Parfitt and councillor Vivienne Keohane represented the council at the mediation talks.

Mrs Parfitt says the key design difference is its faux heritage facade.

Other key changes include:A reduction from 20 residential units to 11Removal of commercial units at ground floorNo stacked parkingAll visitor parking to be on-siteThe building has been set back further at the intersection of Maritime Tce and Hinemoa St to improve sightlines for motoristsThe bulk and dominance of the building has been reduced by setting level two (third floor) back from the outer footprint of the building.

Birkenhead Residents Association chairman Gordon Martinsen says the new design is more in keeping with the area and there is general acceptance it will enhance Birkenhead Point.

Meanwhile Birkenhead Town Centre Association is involved with a project to celebrate the birth of the Birkenhead shops in the 1920s.

It plans to assist heritage projects like restoring the historic entrance to Birkenhead Primary.

To kick start the project the association is hosting a 1920s ball on September 11.

For tickets see Dyan Baker at the Chocolate Boutique, 27 Mokoia Rd, call 419-2450.

Credits

Written by: LIZ WILLIS
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

TV guru joins Chelsea garden plan

FULL STEAM AHEAD: Garden guru Eion, centre, and Ann Scarrow are among supporters of the proposed Great Chelsea Gardens, the brainchild of Graham Milne.

Garden guru Eion Scarrow is throwing his weight behind a large-scale garden concept for Birkenhead.

“I’ve just retired and I wanted something to get my teeth into,” the former TV garden show star says. “Bang, it’s turned my life around.”

Enthusiasm for the multicultural themed Great Chelsea Gardens proposal is growing despite a setback involving the North Shore City Council.

There was not enough time to assess the garden trust’s application for a 10-year lease of Rawene Reserve before the changeover to supercity, a parks report says.

A group of 10 residents in the recently formed Friends of Rawene Reserve is pleased to hear this. Rawene Rd resident Louise Champion is among those sceptical over the elaborate plans for individually themed gardens in the valleys between Highbury and the Chelsea Sugar Refinery.

The group was formed after the residents became concerned about the garden plans, saying the area was unsuitable for such an attraction.

They are submitting a plan to the council to instead plant the area with native bush.

But Mr Milne says plans for the gardens are running full steam ahead.

“We already own the key piece of land, over two acres. We don’t need anything else. We’re sitting in the middle, holding the trump card if you like.”

The Unitec School of Architecture is undertaking a study of the area’s ecology to find out what plants will be best for the area and its inhabitants including native birds and frogs.

Mr Milne says it’s “fantastic” to also have Mr Scarrow on board.

Mr Scarrow has offered to donate native trees for the gardens’ hilly backdrop.

“I’ve contacted buddies overseas who have all said it’s about bloody time something like that was done in New Zealand, those were their exact words,” Mr Scarrow says. “It’ll be a huge boost for tourism, it’s such a logical step.”

Credits

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