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Apartment plan raises ire

JOE DAWSON
Last updated 07:50 15/02/2013
Backlash
BACKLASH: Members of the Maria and Yates Streets Residents Association who object to plans to build a 26-unit mixed housing development at the end of their cul-de-sacs.

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Plans to build a 26-unit mixed housing complex in one of Auckland's most historic corners has sparked outrage among those who will live alongside it.

Residents of Onehunga's Maria St and Yates St say they are not opposed to high-density housing being built on Housing New Zealand land that sits at the end of the cul-de-sacs.

But they say what has been proposed by developers Saltburn is too dense and totally out of character with the rest of the community.

Following the publication of a story on the development in the Central Leader last week neighbours have formed a residents' group and prepared submissions opposing the development as it is proposed now.

A public meeting on Saturday was attended by up to 60 people, including MP Sam Lotu-Iiga and Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Board members.

Saltburn has applied for resource consent to build a mix of state, social and private housing comprising terrace housing and apartments at the site.

Three houses would be removed and replaced with much larger brick and steel structures. One would be a three-storey apartment block.

Maria St and Yates St boast protected cottages dating from the 1860s.

The project is a public-private partnership between Saltburn and Housing New Zealand and is among the first of a "mixed tenure" model to be seen in the country.

It would see private, state and social housing for the elderly and disabled interspersed throughout the buildings.

By building many small-scale houses Saltburn director James Klein plans to be able to sell the private ones at considerably less than the average Auckland real estate price.

Residents say they are happy to share their close-knit community with a range of people but only as long as the development pays appropriate respect to both the existing character of the streets and those who will live in the new buildings.

Lesley Lyons has lived in Onehunga for many years and bought her house on Maria St just weeks ago. She knew development was in store for the land behind hers but thought it would be for just 17 dwellings.

"Our concerns are many," she says.

"We all agree that it's Housing New Zealand land and quite a lot of land that needs something done to it.

"But we want it lower, lesser, safe for children and in harmony with the architecture here.

"This is the oldest part of Onehunga. It's historic and iconic."

She says the proposal does not meet consent requirements on a number of fronts, including the provision of adequate car parking, and is not in keeping with the Onehunga Precinct Plan.

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The plan states new development must "respect the established scale, form and characteristics of the built heritage of Onehunga townscape and residential heritage areas".

She says the proposal will be completely out of character and will create car parking issues on the small streets.

"The proposal will create a demand for offsite parking of which there is limited supply due to parking restrictions.

"Disability parking is not identified on the proposal."

Fellow neighbour Phil Dorn has lived on Yates St for 12 years.

"My concern is them building a 21st century ghetto," he says.

"If you want people to have pride in where they live you have to give them something to be proud of."

Mr Klein says the meeting provided useful information.

He says reducing the number of units would result in more expensive properties.

"If such a scheme were to be built it would deny the Auckland market affordable, new social housing and community housing that it needs."

- Central Leader

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