Protected pohutukawa cut down

CONTROVERSIAL CUT: Residents are angry this pohutukawa was removed to make way for an unconsented apartment block.A protected pohutukawa has been cut down to make room for a controversial, as yet unconsented, Birkenhead development.

Non-notified consent to remove the early mature pohutukawa on Maritime Dr was granted to developer Richard Beca in August.

He cleared it on September 11 to make room for a driveway into high density apartments he wants to build at 83 Hinemoa St.

Residents of the heritage area are angry at the move.

Many of them oppose the apartment plans, and have lodged submissions against it to North Shore City Council.

“Why has consent been given to cut down a tree to make room for a driveway in a building that hasn’t been consented yet,” says Birkenhead Residents Association member Carol Scott.

She is upset consent to remove the tree was given without any public consultation.

Only the council and Mr Beca were listed as affected parties in the decision, and that’s not correct, she says.

“The tree is described as being on a public road reserve, therefore, why are the public and residents not considered affected by its loss?”

The decision to cut down the tree is similar to another at Birkenhead library in 2005, says Mrs Scott.

Then the council began knocking down the existing library, only to be denied consent to build a new one.

A redesigned library on Nell Fisher Reserve was only recently approved by the Environment Court after a two year battle.

“You’d think the council would have learnt their lesson, but apparently not,” she says.

But, Mr Beca says the decision to cut down the tree isn’t really a big deal.

He agreed to plant two other 2.5 metre titoki trees metres away from the old pohutukawa as a consent condition.

The situation is nothing like Birkenhead Library, as the community won’t lose out on anything, he says.

“They’re getting two titoki of a similar size in place of a smaller tree that never really flourished in that position.”

That trade-off will be a good one whether his planned apartments are consented or not, he says.

“If nothing happens then they get two trees, which will be better, and if it goes ahead, it will lessen the impact of the development.”

Mr Beca’s company Aptus Projects wants to build a block including 20 apartments, stacked parking and commercial users on the first floor at 83 Hinemoa St.

The high-density application is allowed despite being in a listed heritage area, because the site has a commercial zoning from its past use as a gas station.

Credits

Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

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