Little Shoal Bay Media Coverage

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.


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

Little Shoal Bay Media Coverage

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.


Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Little Shoal Bay Media Coverage

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.


Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Birkenhead library Media Coverage

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.


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

Little Shoal Bay Media Coverage

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.


Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Birkenhead library Media Coverage

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.


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

83 Hinemoa Street Media Coverage

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’

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.


Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Chelsea sugar refinery Media Coverage Plan Changes

Proposed Plan Change 16: Submitters Get a Second Chance

Submitters opposed to the Chelsea Sugar Refinery plan change will get a second chance to have their views heard because hearing commissioners say an article in the New Zealand Herald could have been misinterpreted.

North Shore City Council’s spokesman Trevor Mackie says that the four-day hearing in February was adjourned rather than closed because independent commissioners wanted the opportunity to notify additional submitters.

The issue was raised by a number of submitters that the article in the Herald led the community to believe that the plan change was off and that they didn’t need to go the hearing, says Mr Mackie.

Chelsea Sugar Refinery is seeking a change to the North Shore City Council’s district plan to allow it to develop the site if the refinery closed.

The land is zoned Business 9 for industrial activities. The owners are asking for an amendment to the district plan, which would allow for the development of residential and small-scale business activities.

The plan change is still being requested but Chelsea made amendments to its proposal before the hearing and withdrew more detailed plans, but it still includes plans to build 528 units on 15 hectares of waterfront land where the refinery currently operates.

The council will be sending letters out to more than 600 submitters to notify them of the latest revisions and to give those who didn’t
get a chance to speak an opportunity to do so.

Many submissions expressed concern about the effect the development would have on the historical site.

In December 2005 the Chelsea Park Trust entered a conditional agreement for the sale of the remaining 37ha of the land that the refinery would not build on.

The trust has secured $20 million for the land for a regional park, with $10m coming from North Shore City Council, but it is conditional on

Chelsea Sugar Refinery receiving .a “satisfactory planning outcome”.

Speakers at the hearing included representatives from the Chelsea Sugar Refinery, Chelsea Park Trust, New Zealand Historic Places Trust,

North Shore City Council, Birkenhead Residents Association, Auckland Regional Council and individual submitters from the area.

The independent commissioners at the hearing included lawyer Michael Savage, who also chaired the Long Bay and Birkenhead library hearings, Terry Brown, a transportation and traffic expert and Jenny Hudson a planning consultant.

We thank Kim Reed and North Shore Times, for permission to reprint this article in full.


Written by: Kim Reed
Reprinted with permission: North Shore Times

Heritage Media Coverage

Demolition man sick of historic destruction

DEMOLITION MAN: Mike Vickers says the near demolition of this heritage home on Arawa Ave in Devonport is part of a growing trend.

Mike Vickers is sick of tearing down beautiful North Shore heritage homes.

The North Shore Demolition boss says heritage zones in Devonport, Northcote Pt and Birkenhead are being gutted as developers exploit resource consent loopholes.

He fears a flood of historic Shore houses may soon be destroyed or altered beyond recognition.

“There are going to be no heritage areas left if this keeps up,” hesays.

“We’re losing our history on a speedy basis.

“Some of these jobs I feel like walking away from, but then if I do there is always someone else willing to do it.

“It shouldn’t be allowed to happen, end of story.”

Rules protecting the North Shore’s heritage homes aren’t stringent enough, says Mr Vickers.

He often sees resource consents granted for alterations to historic houses which are then almost completely demolished.

In other cases developers simply tear down a heritage home, pay a fine, then redevelop the property, he says.

“It’s all about money. It’s another land grab. A piece of vacant land in some of these areas is worth $2 million or $3m.

“It’s easier to start from scratch than to renovate an old bungalow.

“Quite often you can put two houses on these sections.”

Heritage homes were recently demolished or partially demolished in Birkenhead and Devonport.

One home on Arawa St, next to Cheltenham Beach, was almost torn down after its owners were given consent to restore and rennovate it.

Residents and councillors have called for an investigation.

Birkenhead residents are angry over a house recently removed from Mariposa St, near Highbury.

Consent for 90 percent removal of the historic bungalow was granted in 2005, and that was changed to a total removal consent in 2006.

The consent was non-notified and carried out by council officers.

Harbour ward councillor Tony Holman says North Shore heritage homes are disappearing at an alarming rate.

He is taking measures to toughen up rules protecting heritage zones and delegate more decisions on heritage areas to councillors.

It’s also important the council employs more hard-to-find heritage specialists, he says.

“Our special character areas are being eroded. We’re losing a huge visual and economic resource.

“People with lots of money come to a heritage area, saying they love the ambience. They buy a heritage house and then say: ‘Nevermind, I want a modern one’.”

Birkenhead Residents Association member Carol Scott is calling for strict protections to preserve Birkenhead’s character.

Many consents have been given for rennovations that gut important historic buildings, she says.

“Time and time again, you just get to the point where you feel like saying: ‘Are we going to bother to protect heritage or not?’

“This is a finite resource. They aren’t making it any more.

“It is not only an aesthetic and historical good, but in this day and age it’s a financial good.”


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

Chelsea Park Trust Media Coverage

Chelsea park may be scapped

AT RISK: Neil Darroch is worried the opportunity for a public park at the picturesque Chelsea Estate will slip away.

Court action could kill plans for a $20 million public park near the Chelsea Sugar Refinery.

The Auckland Regional Council and New Zealand Historic Places Trust are appealing a district plan change allowing development at the refinery, in the Environment Court.

In response the refinery has put off plans to sell 37 hectares of its prime seaside section to the Chelsea Park Trust.

That sale was conditional on it being allowed to put up to 528 units on another 15 hectares, which include its iconic pink buildings.

Chelsea Park Trust spokesman Neil Darroch says the appeals are likely to crush any chance of a park at Chelsea.

The refinery is sick of delays and is ready to pull out of the conditional purchase agreement, he says.

“If this goes to a hearing it is very likely Chelsea will pull out of the deal. They’ve had enough. It’s taken so long and been so costly.”

It’s unlikely there will be another chance to turn land at Chelsea into a public park if this deal falls through, Mr Darroch says.

“If there ever is another chance to purchase, it will probably be unaffordable.

“This is a sad day.”

PROPOSED PARK: The Chelsea Sugar Refinery wants to sell 37 hectares of its land for a public park and keep another 15 hectares for redevelopment.

It’s disappointing the appeals have been lodged, says Chelsea’s New Zealand general manager Bernard Duignan.

If they hadn’t, the park sale would almost certainly have gone ahead, he says.

“We’re very disappointed. I wouldn’t have seen any other impediments to the sale.”

The historic places trust says it is appealing the district plan change to help save Chelsea Estate for North Shore residents.

It is concerned about the decision to allow up to 528 units on the land, which it sees as an important industrial heritage site.

Development that intense could have a huge impact on the landscape, it says.

When contacted by the North Shore Times, a regional council spokesperson said talks on its appeal are under way.

The council hopes to reach a compromise that would see it withdraw court action.

Long-serving Harbour ward councillor and Chelsea park supporter Tony Holman has spoken out against the appeals.

The objections aren’t worth jeopardising a park that would be a huge asset for the North Shore, he says.

“There may be some things within the decision that are concerning but the time for dealing with them is in the future.
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“We have an opportunity to buy a magnificent park. Losing it would be an absolute disaster for the whole region.”

The refinery agreed to sell 37 hectares of its prime Birkenhead seaside section to the Chelsea Park Trust for $20 million in 2005.

The North Shore City Council agreed to pay $10m of that, with the ASB Charitable Trust, regional council and the government providing the rest.

The only condition was that the refinery be granted a district plan change rezoning 15 hectares of its land for future residential use.

That was granted by independent commissioners last year despite dozens of objections from residents.

No court date has been set for the appeals by the regional council and historic places.


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