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Birkenhead library Media Coverage

Library delay could cost $2.2m

The new Birkenhead library could cost more than $9 million due to delays.

The library building and Civic Centre look set to be built on Nell Fisher Reserve by late 2009, with initial designs boasting 250 square metres of more floorspace than the old Birkenhead library.

North Shore City Council community services and parks committee members were surprised to hear the initial estimated building costs have increased to $9.5m. The original budget set in 2004-05 was $7.3m.

Committee chairman Tony Holman says the increased cost is a concern.

“Construction costs have gone up so much since the original plan, but we’ll have to find the extra money,” says Mr Holman.

“The additional cost won’t be carried by ratepayers though. We are looking at re-allocating funds from other projects.”

But councillor Margaret Miles says the full council hasn’t discussed this.

“That wasn’t discussed at the meeting. I understand some councillors are campaigning for lower rates but this is something the whole council has to look at.

“There has to be a discussion with the whole council,” she says.

She says if funds are re-allocated then other projects will be deferred or won’t happen, so there is still the potential that the increase will affect rates.

A governance and advisory group has been set up to monitor the project and make recommendations to the community services and parks committee.

The group consists of Mr Holman, councillors Joy Brett, Grant Gillon, Ann Hartley, Chris Darby, community services general manager Lorretta Burnett and two Birkenhead/Northcote Community Board members.

Mr Holman says the group is needed to make sure there are no more unnecessary problems or delays.

“If we get things wrong again I would hate to think of the consequences.”

The project has already been an embarrassment to the council.

It suffered long delays because the old library was demolished in 2005 before resource consent was secured to build the new library.

Hearing commissioners then turned down the consent application and the council was forced to reapply.

Further delays were caused when the owners of the Rawene Chambers building, opposite Nell Fisher Reserve, lodged an appeal in the Environment Court.

That court finally gave the project the go-ahead earlier this year.

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Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

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Birkenhead library Media Coverage

Library gets go-ahead

A welcome “pre-Christmas present” has gone to Birkenhead residents having to put up with a long wait for a local library.

Building consent has just been granted for a new Birkenhead library, paving the way for construction to start in early 2009.

All those who have been working on and waiting for the library are delighted, says Northcote councillor Tony Holman.

“There has been much frustration in the past about the delays for this library, but today brings a very nice pre-Christmas present,” he says.

The old Birkenhead library was demolished in 2005 to make way for a bigger and more modern building.

But before building could start on the new library, independent commissioners denied it resource consent.

Council was forced to reapply, but that was appealed to the Environment Court by owners of the neighbouring Rawene Chambers building.

About $1.3 million of council money has been spent getting consents for the building and defending legal appeals.

A temporary library has been established at Birkenhead Leisure Centre during the three years of delays.

Mr Holman says the new council has made putting a new library in Birkenhead one of its top priorities.

“We’re well aware that many people have found it difficult to use the interim library and we’re conscious of the economic effects on Highbury town centre.

“We hope that the new library will help provide new enthusiasm for the use of the library and rejuvenate the centre,” he says.

The new library will house the Birkenhead/Northcote Community Board meeting rooms, the Citizens Advice Bureau, Plunket and the area’s community coordinator.

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Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

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Birkenhead library Media Coverage

New chapter for library

A new library is on the way for Birkenhead after years of delays.
REVISED DESIGN: Models of how Birkenhead library could look once it is completed in November 2009.

A new library is on the way for Birkenhead after years of delays.

Resource consent has been granted for a library at Nell Fisher Reserve, paving the way for it to be built starting in late November.

That ends three years of frustration for Birkenhead residents.

They have been without a library since June 2005, when North Shore City Council demolished the
area’s old library before it had consent to build a new one.

A month later, independent commissioners turned down its plans for a $6.5 million replacement library.

The council then attempted to rezone the reserve to pave the way for a library.

That was appealed in the Environment Court by Abraham Holdings, further delaying the set up of a new library.

North Shore mayor Andrew Williams says he knows being without a central library building has been difficult for residents.

Birkenhead lost a part of its heart and soul with the loss of its library and civic services, he says.

“I was very concerned at the ongoing delays in putting the matter right and I am pleased that the centre can now move to its next step.

“The 2662 square metre library and community facilities building will be an icon.”

Community services and parks committee chairman Tony Holman commends library workers for their patient wait in temporary accomodation.

Plunket, Citizens Advice Bureau and the area’s community coordinator were all moved when the old library was torn down.

An interim library building away from the Highbury town centre has not been well-used by residents.

“We’re well aware that many people have found it difficult to use the interim library and we’re conscious of the economic effects on Highbury town centre. We hope that the new library will help provide new enthusiasm for the use of the library and rejuvenate the Highbury town centre,” says Mr Holman.

Councillor Ann Hartley has called the decision to tear down the old library without consent for a new one a “$1 million mistake”.

She is pleased to see the library get consent but says that doesn’t excuse the delays and “incompetency” of council officers.

“Put it this way, I won’t be giving anyone a bonus. It’s the minimum output one would expect.”

The new library will be built to Green Star NZ status which evaluates building projects against eight environmental impact categories.

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Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

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Birkenhead Wharf / Ferries Media Coverage

Funding approved for ferry terminal

The much-awaited Birkenhead ferry terminal project is finally going full steam ahead.

North Shore city councillor Ann Hartley says the Auckland Regional Transport Authority has confirmed funding for installation of a hydraulic boarding ramp.

She says ARTA strategy and planning general manager Peter Clark made the confirmation at last week’s meeting of the Auckland Regional Land Transport Committee.

Mr Clark said the authority is providing $1.5 million for a modern ramp to be installed soon, with the council having completed pile strengthening to enable installation.

Ms Hartley is happy with the news that the ferry terminal project will finally move ahead.

“This is something that we in Birkenhead have been pushing a lot for,” she says.

She says the ramp will make it easier for passengers to move between the terminal to the ferry.

Good ferry services at Birkenhead will help with the success of the soon to be introduced Beach Haven ferry service, she says.

Ms Hartley says detailed design of the Beach Haven wharf is half-way complete, with construction due to start in October and be completed by March 2009.

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Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

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83 Hinemoa Street Media Coverage

Heritage site apartments denounced

UNITED FRONT: Food critic Annabelle White, left, residents association member Warwick Jones, lawyer Bruce Stainton, and resident Carol Scott are among those opposing a proposed Birkenhead apartment block.UNITED FRONT: Food critic Annabelle White, left, residents association member Warwick Jones, lawyer Bruce Stainton, and resident Carol Scott are among those opposing a proposed Birkenhead apartment block.

People from TV cooks to North Shore’s mayor have joined forces to denounce apartment plans in a Birkenhead heritage area.

A resource consent hearing on a proposed 18 apartment and four office development at 83 Hinemoa St was adjourned on May 2.

There were 500 submitters against the development plans, including about half of the 800 local residents, says Shore mayor Andrew Williams.

None were in favour.

Among those who spoke at the hearing were well-known food critic and broadcaster Annabelle White, Carter Holt Harvey director Fraser Whineray, heritage architect Jeremy Salmond and mayor Andrew Williams.

Ms White rejected the proposed development as too high, too dominant and out of keeping with the surrounding heritage area.

She called the building “an ugly visual pollutant where something tasteful could have been proposed. Wrong style, wrong materials, wrong time period, wrong size.”

Mr Williams backed her case as an expert witness on heritage areas.

He says he does not want the apartment block to be approved during his time as mayor.

The application is only possible because of an anomaly in the district plan that saw the site zoned for business, he says.

“We only get one shot at this. We have to act now to preserve our heritage areas.”

Respected heritage architect Mr Salmond spoke against the development on behalf of Birkenhead Residents Association.

He said the proposed building does not fit with the heritage character of Birkenhead Pt and has an “uncomfortably slab-like appearance”.

The apartment design was classified as “modern non-descript” and its dimensions were described as too dominant.

Developer Aptus Projects, which is owned by Richard Beca, defended the apartment and office block plans.

Its contractor Lisa Mein of Boffa Miskell said the block fits with the “seven c’s”
of essential design qualities.

She maintains it’s in the right context, has good character, provides people choice, connects residents, has a creative design, takes good custody of the land and is a product of collaborative design.

“I am satisfied that
either building would create a landmark on the street and would make a positive contribution.”

Traffic engineers and a resource consent expert also supported the apartment proposal.

Aptus Projects first applied to put 20 apartments at 83 Hinemoa St in 2005, but withdrew its plans after 440 people submitted against them.

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

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Birkenhead Wharf / Ferries Media Coverage

Felled pohutukawa posed risk

Twelve historic pohutukawa trees in Hinemoa Park have been felled because their deteriorating condition posed a risk to the public, says the council.

Hinemoa Park, located near to Birkenhead ferry terminal, has been home to 61 native pohutukawa trees since the 1920s.

Birkenhead and Northcote parks officer Bob Wallace says a lack of knowledge about correct treatment of the trees had contributed to their demise.

“They go back to the 1920s and 1930s, and historically have had poor pruning techniques which is one of the many factors which caused the decline,” he says.

Mr Wallace says that little attention had been given to the ground around the trees, and they had been thickly planted.

Some remaining trees are also sick, but the North Shore City Council is planning an intensive care programme including careful pruning and monitoring in an effort to save them.

Thirteen large pohutukawa will take the place of those cut down but if more felling is necessary there will be no more replanting. “The existing trees will be given a bit more room to breathe,” says Mr Wallace.

Birkenhead resident Jane Roberts says she is unhappy the historic trees have been removed.

“The trees in Hinemoa Park are just beautiful.

“I feel like the council gave residents no say in the matter before they were cut down.”

Mr Wallace says the council had no choice in the matter as the trees posed a safety threat both to the public and parked cars.

A rigorous consent process was followed before the go ahead was given, he says.

“We also did extensive circulation around residents, and put brochures on cars,” he says.

– Sophie Schroder is an AUT journalism student

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Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

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Media Coverage

Wharf trees to be axed

A dozen mature pohutukawa are set to get the chop at Hinemoa Park in Birkenhead.

Public notices are about to go out on the decision to cut down the grove of pohutukawa in the park by Birkenhead Wharf.

North Shore City Council officers say the trees are in poor health and are a hazard to cars parked at the wharf.

They have received resource consent for the work on the trees.

The felling is described as a first step in plans to cut down a number of dangerous trees in the park.

“The limbs are breaking off. Cars are getting damaged on the foreshore area. It was a foregone conclusion that they had to come out. They’re now dangerous to park users,” says the council’s Birkenhead and Northcote parks officer Bob Wallace.

“There’s a general support for what’s being done.”

But some residents are upset at the plans to remove the trees, which they say are an icon of area.

Birkenhead Residents Association member Carol Scott says cutting down the trees will have a “devastating” effect on the seaside park.

Residents haven’t been consulted enough on the felling and many still don’t know about it, she says.

“Because it’s going to have such a devastating effect, it’s council’s responsibility to engage the public. People should have been made more aware of this,” she says.

“I’ve got people coming up to me saying ‘surely it’s not true’.”

Birkenhead arborist Gary Claxton says the felling plans are generally understandable, but could be toned down.

He has recommended council officers keep two of the trees and put a better plan in place to manage their health.

“There’s going to be discontent, but on the whole I thought the decision is pretty good, with the exception of a couple of trees.”

Public meetings are scheduled this month on the felling plans, says Mr Wallace.

He expects to see a the trees come out over the course of two days in May.

Parks at the wharf will be closed off while the felling is going on, meaning ferry commuters will have to park on side streets off Hinemoa St.

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Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

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Chelsea Park Trust Media Coverage

Sweet news for Chelsea park

A 37-hectare public park has been given the green light at Chelsea Refinery in Birkenhead.

Chelsea Sugar has agreed to sell the land around its iconic pink painted refinery buildings for $20 million, more than two years after proposing the deal.

Only a final seal of approval from the Environment Court is needed for the purchase to go ahead.

“The deal has essentially gone unconditional,” says Chelsea Sugar general manager Bernard Duignan.

“This land is going to be maintained as a park.”

Legal action by the Auckland Regional Council and New Zealand Historic Places Trust had threatened to sink the park deal.

Both appealed a North Shore District Plan change allowing 528 units on about 15 hecatres of refinery land to the Environment Court.

Chelsea Sugar had threatened to pull out of the park deal if the plan change wasn’t approved.

It took a compromise agreement between all the parties to get the company to put the purchase back on the table.

That extended the amount of consultation required if the refinery does decide to develop some of its land.

Mr Duignan says it’s unlikely development will ever go ahead.

“I can say absolutely and categorically we have no plans of developing the land. We’ve been operating here for 125 years.”

North Shore City Council community services and parks committee chairman Tony Holman says the park will be an asset to all Shore residents.

It will guarantee them with the longest section of bush-clad coastline on the Waitemata Harbour, he says.

Ten million dollars for the park purchase will come from North Shore council, $6m from ASB Charitable Trust, $2m from Auckland Regional Council and $2m from the government.

The idea of a park on the Uruamo headland in Birkenhead was first proposed a decade ago.

The Environment Court has 60 days to ratify the park purchase.

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Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

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Chelsea sugar refinery Media Coverage Plan Changes

Plan Change 16: A Timeline Of Events

Background – It was the vision of the Chelsea Regional Park
Association to protect the Uruamo Headland from Kauri Point to Chelsea as one great urban park for the people of Auckland.
An agreement for the sale of buffer land surrounding the sugar works fell short of protecting the refinery site.

Dec 2005 – NZ Sugar Company Ltd and Chelsea Park Trust announced the conditional sale of 36.7 hectares of parkland for $20 million, subject to the following conditions:-

  • Chelsea Sugar are able to continue operating on the present 24/7 basis.
  • Chelsea Park Trust obtaining funds to complete the purchase.
  • Quote: “That in the unlikely event the refinery was relocated, a suitable pattern of land use for the refinery site is in place for the future.”

 
Apr 2006 – $100 million upgrade in capacity of CSR’s sugar refining plant in Melbourne is announced in “The Age”

  • Chelsea Mixed Use Overlay Plan Change 16 (incl 527 residential units) was notified to the Public.
  • Public meetings regarding Plan Change 16 attracted
    large numbers of concerned residents.

 

May 2006 – Submissions for Plan Change 16 closed 5th May.
Over 500 submissions were received.

Aug 2006 – Submissions were summarised and released for
further submission.

Sep 2006 – Further Submissions closed friday 29th

Feb 2007 – Hearing for plan change 16 (Chelsea) is scheduled for Tues 20 to Thurs 22 February

Feb 12 2007 – Chelsea withdraws detailed plan. The original application for plan change 16 has been amended by deleting the detail planning maps suggesting where buildings would be sited, dispensing with the “Chelsea mixed use overlay area and plan” and introducing the alternative of the “Chelsea future use and conservation zone”

Feb 26 & 27 2007– Bruce & Virginia Stainton, Carol Scott, Douglas Love, Heather Nicholson, Scott Cordes, Geoff Sawyer and Penny Hext made submissions at the hearing.

Mar 8 2007 – Submitters opposed to the Chelsea Sugar Refinery plan change get a second chance to have their views heard because hearing commissioners say an article in the New Zealand Herald could have been misinterpreted.

Nov 2 2007 – The Hearing Commissioners’ decision on submissions (including further submissions) to the Proposed (Private) Plan Change 16 – Chelsea Mixed Use Overlay Area and Plan is released.

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Chelsea sugar refinery Media Coverage Plan Changes

Proposed Plan Change 16: BRA Not Satisfied By Chelsea Decision

Decisions by North Shore City on Private Plan Change 16 to the District Plan in regards to the Chelsea Sugar Refinery land at Birkenhead have been made public.

Proposed Plan Change and overall determination.
This decision report specifies the Hearing Commissioners’ decision on submissions (including further submissions) to the Proposed (Private) Plan Change 16 – Chelsea Mixed Use Overlay Area and Plan.

Birkenhead Residents Association and its members were among the many community organisations opposing Chelsea Sugar Refinery’s private plan change to develop the company’s parkland premises on coastal Birkenhead into a high-density housing estate.

North Shore City Council received more than 500 objections to the proposed 528 unit Chelsea development, which would not only increase traffic flows through Highbury village centre, but would also see the destruction of cherished wildlife reserves around the existing seaside plant.

Independent planning commissioners have taken eight months to reach a decision and produce a report which recommends that the plan change provides a good option for future use of the Chelsea site, but under much tighter regulations and processes than originally sought by Chelsea, and with stricter attention to environmental issues.

Although disappointed at the decision, Birkenhead Residents Association is heartened by the support within the community and the number of opposing submissions. Chairman Harvey White believes that this opposition has played a large role in achieving the significant changes to the plan, such as the requirement that all future activities will need discretionary activity consent, and the requirement for a Comprehensive Development Plan.

But serious concerns still exist over issues such as building height and the high level of intensification of proposed apartments. Mr White said that Birkenhead Residents Association is considering an appeal against the decision.