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Fears for historic Grafton

LAUREN PRIESTLEY
Last updated 05:00 22/08/2014
Development

BIG PLANS: The development on the corner of Khyber Pass Rd and Huntly Ave in Grafton.

Grafton group
Lauren Priestley
STANDING UP: Libby McLeay and Action Grafton group members Martin Dunlop, Jane Roskruge, David Haigh, Jacqui Callaghan, Andrew Strong and Alison Strong.

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A looming development spells the end for historic Grafton, residents say.

The six-storey apartment building on the corner of Khyber Pass Rd and Huntly Ave proposed by Ockham Residential was granted resource consent on August 6. It is within a special housing area - meaning a fast-tracked process with quick consents, no public notification and limited appeal rights.

Action Grafton spokeswoman Libby McLeay said the main bone of contention is the inclusion of 77 car parks despite only 57 units planned.

The added cars will decimate the heritage neighbourhood and make the busy city-fringe intersection even more dangerous, she said.

"Grafton is a lovely neighbourhood. It's restoring itself from the damage that happened when it was cut in half by the motorway in the 1960s. It's one of the most liveable places in Auckland. But as soon as it becomes gridlocked it's not going to be safe for our kids or our community."

There has been a severe lack of consultation, McLeay said.

And it's not just a Grafton issue with 63 Auckland special housing areas in force and plenty more in the pipeline, she said.

"The special housing areas totally favour developers, not the people struggling to buy houses or the communities.

"People need to know, they don't realise that they're going up everywhere. We have no say."

But Ockham Residential director Mark Todd said buyers expect Auckland apartments to come with car parks.

The company is planning for one car park per apartment plus 15 spaces for the ground floor offices, he said.

He has spoken to other Grafton residents who oppose apartment blocks without car parking because the cars then take up the off-street parking, he said.

The site has been zoned for development for 10 years, he said.

"In the current environment, apartment developments are relatively hard to convince the public to buy if they don't have car parking."

Councillor Mike Lee says special housing areas are spelling trouble for a lot of neighbourhoods.

The number of cars the Grafton development will generate is crazy, he said.

"Fast-tracked SHA developments like this are compromising neighbours' property values and worse taking away their normal civil rights to object."

Waitemata Local Board member Christopher Dempsey said the board has no objections to intensification but it must be done well.

Traffic concerns weren't taken into account when the special housing area was designated, he said.

The extra cars on the road means increased risk of an accident on Khyber Pass, a vital link between east and west Auckland, he said.

Generation Zero spokesman Sudhvir Singh said the Grafton development is a good idea but there are too many car parks - particularly in light of the nearby public transport.

"Excessive parking is a poor use of space, incentivises car use and imposes additional costs which are passed on to homeowners and renters, making the housing less affordable."

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An Auckland Council spokesperson says a meeting was held with residents, the Housing Project Office, Auckland Transport and Ockham Residential in May to discuss transport concerns. A traffic impact assessment on July 8 states the development "integrates well with the existing transport system" and the effect of private vehicle traffic would be "less than minor".

- Auckland City Harbour News

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