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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.

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Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

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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.

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Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

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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.

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