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Neighbours in support

LAUREN PRIESTLEY
Last updated 05:00 05/03/2014
Lynne Butle

SPEAKING UP: Freemans Bay Residents’ Association chairwoman Lynne Butle with members Grey Seagar, Cynthia Beeby, Trevor Lund, Valerie Leech, Trevor Longford-Reid and Margaret Voyce

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Battle-ready residents are standing up for their elderly state home neighbours in Freemans Bay.

Housing New Zealand flat tenants in Spring St - including many in their 80s - are still waiting to hear what will happen to their homes after news before Christmas that the site is going to be redeveloped (Auckland City Harbour News, January 17).

Now their neighbours are stepping up to help.

Residents Association chairwoman Lynne Butler dropped off more than 200 handwritten submissions against intensification in the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan to the council on Friday. The submissions object to zoning changes that would allow buildings up to six storeys high on the Spring St site.

Neighbours oppose the possible development for a number of reasons, but mostly for the sake of its residents, Ms Butler says.

"There's just a whole lot of social issues around it that they're just not getting. Most importantly is the care and communication with the pensioners living there."

Housing New Zealand is asking the council to make the site a Special Housing Area, meaning development could be fast-tracked with a quicker consent process, no public notification and limited appeal rights.

One of its tender documents says there is no Housing New Zealand expectation for developers to provide affordable or pensioner housing in Spring St.

Resident Association committee member Grey Seagar is not impressed.

"They've forgotten that they said ‘you can live here for life' to some of the pensioners who are still in there. We just can't understand the justification for it."

Housing New Zealand regional manager Neil Adams says the organisation met with residents to explain it has no immediate intentions to move them.

It is too early to talk about rehousing options and tenants will be the first to know when a decision is made, he says.

Developments around Auckland were discussed at the meeting to show what has happened elsewhere.

"Comments in relation to Three Kings were an example only of the quality, design and features of some of the new homes we are building in Auckland at the moment, not as a place for Spring St tenants to move to."

Waitemata Local Board member Christopher Dempsey says the board voted in favour of the higher density zoning for Spring St because it supports intensification in the area.

Mr Dempsey looks after the board's planning portfolio and says the infrastructure needs to be considered before a Special Housing Area is given the green light.

The impact of development on surrounding properties is also a concern, he says.

"The problem we had is that we know Housing New Zealand will want to intensify it in some sort of manner. It didn't matter what we did really."

Auckland Central-based Labour list MP Jacinda Ardern says communication with residents is the real issue.

"I'm not against the principal of intensification but for Spring St I'm absolutely opposed to the way Housing New Zealand has decided to go about this development.

"I'm doing everything I can to support the residents who clearly don't want this to happen."

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- Auckland City Harbour News

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