Angry residents opposing controversial plans for a 24/7 petrol station on a busy arterial route have been ignored by Auckland Council.
The Z service station and six retail shops will be built at 119 Onewa Rd, on the corner of Gladstone Rd, next to St Mary’s Catholic Church and primary school, on the same side as the west- bound T3 transit lane.
All 52 submissions to the council oppose the plan.
The council revealed its decision to grant resource consent last Friday despite overwhelming opposition from Gladstone Rd, Seaview Ave and Onewa Rd residents, St Mary’s Catholic Church and primary school, Kaipatiki Local Board and Northcote MP Jonathan Coleman.
Mr Coleman slams the plans, saying “it is a recipe for traffic mayhem” and children’s safety is his top concern. He told the North Shore Times last November he was “yet to meet anyone who is in favour of the proposal but there is strong opposition to the development”.
St Mary’s parish council chairman Iain Gallie says the church’s top concerns are safety, traffic and environmental impacts.
Multiple submitters raised concerns about noise pollution for those living near the site, specifically the parish accommodation for priests.
Residents claimed the council had not received their submissions or believed theirs were not counted in the final tally.
The council says one of the conditions is a boundary fence, as high as the six retail shops, be built to block noise. The retail shops have had opening times restricted but the station will operate 24 hours, seven days a week.
Decibel restrictions have also been placed on noise.
Public hearings were on November 29 and 30 and an additional hearing was held on December 14.
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.
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.
For 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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.