Chelsea sugar refinery Media Coverage

Commissioners deliver Chelsea land use ruling

Despite the independent commissioner's decision to allow housing on the site, there is still no plan to close the sugar works.DEVELOPMENT VIEW: Despite the independent commissioner’s decision to allow housing on the site, there is still no plan to close the sugar works.

Housing should be allowed at the 120-year-old Chelsea sugar refinery in Birkenhead if the company ceases operation on the site, says a report from independent commissioners.

Allowing significantly higher buildings – up to seven storeys instead of four – in the bulk sugar store area is among the changes backed by the commissioners.

The commissioners say this is the height of the existing bulk sugar store buildings.

The district plan change allows for mainly housing on the site plus some community and business use.

Chelsea’s proposal to change the planning rules and build up to 528 houses attracted more than 500 submissions, mostly in opposition.

Opponents included the Birkenhead Residents Association critical of the ‘planned horrendous housing intensification’, the Auckland Regional Council and an Auckland city community board.

But in its submission, Chelsea says there are no plans to close the refinery and significant investment has been made in new equipment.

About 36 hectares of the 52 hectare site have been conditionally sold and will become a public park once the district plan issues are settled, says its submission.

North Shore City Council’s main concern was the fact the land was zoned for business use, and there is shortage of such land on the Shore.

Council environmental policy and planning manager Trevor Mackie says many of its concerns have been addressed.

Mr Mackie says the new plans are less specific about the location and heights of buildings and provide a more flexible framework.

He says the decision provides for a more comprehensive development plan to be produced should the refinery close.

Mr Mackie says it could be decades before the refinery shuts its doors and it is too early to be too specific about future development.

The previous plan allowed for a maximum of 3200 square metres for business use.

Mr Mackie says now the mix of residential and business will have to be reconsidered taking into account many factors, including the impact on traffic.


Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

83 Hinemoa Street Media Coverage

Residents fight high-density housing

SAY NO: Rob McCauley and fellow residents don’t want high intensity development on their street.

Plans to build high-density housing on a narrow Birkenhead street have residents up in arms.

The Catrina Avenue development is another in a series of controversial apartment and housing developments proposed for Birkenhead.

Developer Aptus Projects wants to build 20 apartments with stacked parking in a heritage area on Hinemoa St.

Opposing residents say the block would be innappropriate for the area and could cause major parking problems.

Another 36-apartment development recently approved near Highbury has caused controversy among Huka Rd residents.

Developer Dover Construction wants to put 12 townhouses with stacked parking on a small section of cleared land off the quiet Catrina Ave cul-de-sac.

But residents say the plans will cause parking problems and harm native bush.

The development proposal is ‘greedy’ and should be stopped before it ruins the street, says neighbour Rob McCauley.

“We’re concerned about traffic flow, intensity of the development, the native bush surrounding it, and we’re concerned it’s going to have a flow-on effect for the whole of Birkenhead.”

The abundance of high-density housing springing up is hurting Birkenhead, says Mr McCauley.

He wants development on his road limited to low-intensity suburban housing.

“It was our little neighbourhood. It was a lovely little area. Enough is enough. We’ve got to make a good environment for future generations. They need more space.”

Dover Construction director Hans Ottow says many of these concerns have been addressed by contractors.

Though there is no park space in the proposal, residents will have access to adjacent bush land, he says.

A traffic engineer employed by the company says the road can take the extra traffic, says Mr Ottow.

“I’m not a traffic engineer so I don’t pretend to know how they measure the space in the roads, but he’s done the analysis and he’s happy with it. “We think the houses are really well designed, they look good and are interesting.”


Photo/s by: MIKE KNOTT/North Shore Times
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

83 Hinemoa Street Media Coverage

Apartment plans draw huge number of submissions

A proposed apartment block has attracted more than twice as many submissions as North Shore City Council’s annual plan.

There were 469 on time and 30 late resource consent submissions about developer Aptus Projects’ plans to build an apartment block in a Birkenhead heritage zone.

Only 203 people made submissions to this year’s council annual plan.

It’s unusual to get so many people interested in a single notified consent, says council specialist planning team leader Robert Andrews.

“It’s a very large number of submissions. About one in 30 or 50 hearings will get over 100 submissions,” he says.

“I guess the issue is how well it has been publicised. We served notice to the immediately affected properties but obviously many hundreds beyond them have submitted.”

Dealing with the volume of submissions could make for a lengthy resource consent process.

Some people will be asked whether they would like to have a group representative summarise their views, says Mr Andrews.

Others haven’t asked to be heard and some may not turn up, he says.

“But in the end it’s a public process and everyone has the right to be heard. It’s their democratic right.”

The proposed 20 apartment block at 83 Hinemoa St has stirred up controversy since it was first proposed in 2005.

Then Aptus Projects owner Richard Beca withdrew his plans after 440 people submitted against them.

He submitted a revised apartment block design in August this year but that has again raised the hackles of Birkenhead Pt residents.

Resource consent submission forms were handed out at public meeting on the apartment plans.

Many people took two, says Birkenhead Residents Association member Warrick Jones.

“I think it’s great. It’s a show of hands that people haven’t lost interest. I had someone ring up and say she wanted six for her workplace.”

Dissatisfaction with the council has motivated many people to make submissions, he says.

“Really you have to ask yourself how you get a modern building like that in an area where the council isgiving loans to people to rebuild their houses as they were 100 years ago. People do get motivated by injustice or perceived injustice.

“I’m hoping it sends a strong message to council.”

No resource consent hearing date has been set.

Mr Beca may be considering ‘tinkering’ with his design before the hearing, says Mr Andrews.


Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

83 Hinemoa Street Media Coverage

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.


Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Birkenhead library Media Coverage

Birkenhead library gets green light

TUMBLING DOWN: Demolition work on Birkenhead library in July 2005. Library users are unlikely to see a new library until late 2009. The Environment Court has given the go-ahead for a new Birkenhead library on Nell Fisher Reserve but it is not expected to open until late 2009.

Abraham Holdings, which owns the Rawene Chambers building, opposite the reserve, lodged the Environment Court appeal.

The appeal challenged an independent commissioners’ decision to approve the rezoning of reserve land so a library could be built.

North Shore City Council library services manager Geoff Chamberlain is pleased the appeal has now been heard and a judgement in favour of the council announced.

“There has been a library on Nell Fisher Reserve for more than 50 years and it’s the ideal place for it.

“The new purpose-built library will provide a vital community focal point in Birkenhead’s civic centre and it’s a facility that will be hugely popular with the local community,” says Mr Chamberlain.

The Birkenhead library project has suffered long delays. Demoliton of the old library had already started in 2005 when independent commissioners declined the resource consent for the project.

The library, Plunket and the Citizens Advice Bureau have been working from cramped temporary premises.

Birkenhead library and civic centre project manager Sharron Cleghorn says the council is now working with its architects to redesign the building.

Ms Cleghorn says preliminary work indicates the council should be able to build within the new zoning requirements.

The council is keen to keep the planning process as straight-forward as possible, particularly after the delays, she says.

The appeal decision restricts the building’s height at the back corner to 9 metres rather than 11 metres to protect views from a neighbouring building, she says.

A total of $6.5 million is provided in the council’s 2006-16 city plan for the capital costs of the new building and these will be revisited after detailed design work.

The building is also planned to house a Citizens Advice Bureau, Highbury Plunket and the Birkenhead area office.


Photo/s by: MIKE KNOTT
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – The North Shore Times

Chelsea sugar refinery Plan Changes

Plan Change 16: Submission on behalf of Birkenhead Residents Association

Submission by Bruce Stainton


IN THE MATTER OF Proposed plan change no 16 to the North Shore City District Plan

Submission on behalf of Birkenhead Residents Association (BRA) [ Available as a PDF file ]

1.0 Introduction

1.0 My name is Bruce Stainton

1.2 I represent the Birkenhead Residents’ Association (BRA). The original Association has a 30 year history of communications with Chelsea. The Association was re-formed out of community opposition to Private Plan Change 16. The scale of that opposition is reflected in the very large number of opposing submissions to the Change, many from the Birkenhead area.

1.3 The Association is deeply concerned with the adverse effects on the local community of Birkenhead of the proposed policy & rules for redevelopment. Such effects include a partial destruction of the integrity of the historic Chelsea estate that is so important to the Birkenhead community’s well being. The grounds are well-used by the community and the adverse effects beyond the site, in particular traffic, visual effects, and interruption of the ecological corridor are reasonably considered likely outcomes.

1.3.1 Those applying for resource consents; ie: private plan changes interpret well being in economic terms. Well being of a community is also referred to in s5 RMA as social and cultural. The historian Kynan Gentry wrote in Heartlands “our identity and our very sense of authenticity, it seems, are inextricably bound up with the places we claim as ‘ours’. Perhaps this is because place has a more lasting identity than we have, – and because we unswervingly attach ourselves to our identity”. Later in the same chapter, Place, Heritage & Identity, he wrote “the power of place is one of the key reasons that historic preservation has developed.”

1.3.2 It is not therefore surprising, that many who have established themselves in the Birkenhead/Northcote community consider Chelsea Estate as part of their own identity, given Chelsea’s predominant history and culture evident throughout the area. They wish to see not only conservation but also preservation. They strongly support the Chelsea Trust effort to secure the surrounding environment as the only appropriate context for the heritage buildings. They strongly support heritage planning as a key requirement to any redevelopment, which will seek continuing connection between the Refinery buildings and the current estate environment.

1.4 Other submitters who are members of the Association are presenting submissions on some of these matters, for example Mrs Heather Nicholson on traffic impacts and geo hazards.

1.5 My submission shall be examining planning matters.

2.0 Private Plan Change 16

2.1 This plan change relates to the Business 9 zone at Chelsea, being 13.69 ha. of the approximately 50 ha. Chelsea Refinery Estate. I use the term Chelsea for short to also cover both the NZ Sugar Ltd and Chelsea Estate Ltd interests.

2.2 The Chelsea Refinery estate is listed as Category A in the North Shore District Plan. The Plan acknowledges on p.11-8 that “These provisions for the Chelsea Sugar Refinery site at Birkenhead recognise it as a physical resource possessing unique industrial heritage of national and international significance.”

2.3 The Chelsea Sugar refinery is also on the NZ Historic Places Trust register.

2.4 In terms of the Resource Management Act 1991, the Association submits that the original proposed plan change is contrary to S.6(f) and S.17, to the extent that intensive residential housing development will result in significant adverse effects on the site that cannot be avoided, remedied or mitigated. These effects include over-intensive redevelopment of a sensitive historic environment (both buildings and landscape) of considerable integrity, which must be detrimentally affected by large-scale, intensive development.

2.5 In terms of the District Plan, S.6 Managing the Growth and Development of the City, 6.3 Urban Growth Strategy, Policies, states that the objectives will be achieved ‘By enabling a differentiated pattern of residential development to emerge in the built-up areas, ranging from higher density intensive housing adjacent to commercial centres, or along selected main transport routes where appropriate, to lower density housing in areas of high natural and built amenity value.’

2.6 Chelsea’s 13.69 ha. site is not adjacent to a commercial node or a main transport route. The proposed residential intensity of 528 units is therefore excessive and inappropriate. It actually exceeds any other residential density in the City, including the high density zones. This plan change therefore conflicts with the District Council & Regional Council plans and strategic policy.

2.7 It must be kept in mind that much of the rest of the surrounding Chelsea estate is zoned Residential 2A. That is the only position to which the commissioners should have regard. The proposed intensive development cannot therefore be “traded off” against the possibility of the rest of the estate being open space. The conditional sale and purchase agreement with the Chelsea Park Trust relating to the rest of the estate is only a possibility, not a certainty. It is conditional, and one of the conditions is that Chelsea is at liberty to walk away from the agreement if it is not satisfied with the outcome of this planning process. The conditional sale and purchase agreement must therefore be disregarded in planning decision making. If open space was intended to surround this zone it should have been an integral part of this private plan change.

2.8 The Association is mindful of the risk to the agreement with the Trust if opposition to this plan change is effective. It shows the careful assessment of effects of the intensive development of the Refinery and horse paddock have been weighed against the gains of open space in the agreement and found the cost in amenities lost to be too high. Heritage buildings need a context, a setting, to maintain its real value. Intensive development would split the refinery from the setting. Intense development will adversely affect visual, traffic and ecological amenities.

2.9 The Association submission sought that Private Plan Change 16 be rejected. Since then, CSR has produced – without withdrawing the Plan Change – an Amendment to the Change. The process outlined in the Amendment provides expressly for 528 residential units and 3,200 m2 of commercial space. This together with stated heights for areas up to 25m (as appropriate) predicates all report assessments, and negates all of the other conservation criteria values that the policy is otherwise purporting to support. It leaves no room for impartial capacity assessment. There are no or insufficient assessment criteria to override the above express provisions.

2.10 The plan, as amended, while widening the activity status, has withdrawn some of the assessment criteria needed to properly guide a development brief from which a Comprehensive Development Plan could be assessed. I refer to David Truscott’s submission on the Proposed Rule being omitted from the amended plan. We also agree the planning map accompanying the amended plan change is still too directive, ie: in circulation layout, as it limits the brief. In summary, report writers are given an intensive development policy, before they have even considered if it is appropriate for a comprehensive Development Plan, but no other assessment criteria’s or priorities to guide everyone in the assessment process.

2.11 One aspect on visual amenity that I have not noted as mentioned by any other submitter. It is acknowledged that the pine trees and eucalyptus trees around the horse paddock and indeed on other ridges in the estate are old. They are tall and provide a high canopy. If they don’t fall down they will need to be cut down as many are dangerously at the end of their life. Once those woods are felled, the views of many residents and street travellers will open up directly into the horse paddock and the bulk sugar area. Natives and other desirable vegetation will take a generation or three to reach the screening height presently observed. All the proposed possible new buildings will be in full view and will depreciate the heritage aspects further.

2.12 The Association opposes this plans proposals to guide redevelopment of the Chelsea Estate and therefore seeks that the Plan Change and Amendment be rejected.

2.13 The Refinery vows it has no need or plan to close the refinery operation at present. There is time to work through other proposals to get the right balance. Chelsea has been a good citizen and shared the beauty, tranquillity and heritage of its grounds and building with the public, especially the local community. The Association would like to invite Chelsea to engage in dialogue with the Association, to improve the planning policy and rules to be applied if redevelopment is required in the future.

[ Available as a PDF file ]