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Protest against car park

EMMA WHITTAKER
Last updated 05:00 19/07/2013
Kiwitea residents

NO WAY: Renata Dealy, Jocelyn Brice, Lester Brice, Wayne Evans, Renske van den Brink, and Stuart Sontier stand in front of one of the houses that could be demolished to make way for an extended church car park. 

Church bishop
NEIGHBOURHOOD DISPUTE: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Sandringham stake president Anthony Wilson, left, and Bishop Siosifa Halafuka say they are trying to be good neighbours.

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Plans to extend a church car park have got nearby residents in a flurry.

But leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Sandringham say they're only trying to be good neighbours.

The Kiwitea St church is seeking consent from the Auckland Council to turn two of its residential properties on Calgary St into a 52 space car park.

"It would be a total eyesore for the whole street. It has a huge amount of history, and beautiful old houses, and then we would have this massive concrete mess in the middle," resident Wayne Evans says.

"The car park is also used for activities that make a large amount of noise and draw a huge number of people to the area.

"The people who use the church don't just celebrate a wedding or a funeral, they celebrate all the time. There would be cars coming and going at night and noise," he says.

Resident Jocelyn Brice fears the car park would be a security risk.

"We've had four burglaries in the past so we're quite emotive about security and a car park would create an escape route for burglars," she says.

Many of the houses on the street were built in the early 1900s including the two homes that would be removed.

"It's demolishing the history of the street, and it seems crazy to get rid of two houses when there is a housing shortage in Auckland," Mrs Brice says.

Residents have been holding meetings and intend to oppose the car park if the plans are publicly notified by the council.

Church stake president Anthony Wilson says the sections were purchased in the early 2000s as a way to appease neighbours. There were complaints about churchgoers parking in the street.

Plans to convert them into a car park didn't go ahead when one of three congregations was moved to another building and numbers levelled out.

Mr Wilson says congregation numbers are again growing and other facilities are under pressure.

Two congregations of around 200 people currently use the facility each Sunday and that is expected to grow to three.

"As a consequence we're going to need the car park. I know some of the neighbours don't like the idea of it but we believe we can mitigate some of their concerns being raised. We're just trying to do the best we can to be good neighbours."

He says traffic on Calgary St won't be an issue because there will be no entrances and exits on the road and users will need to use the existing church entrance on Lambeth Rd.

News of expanding congregation numbers has further riled residents.

Resident Renske van den Brink says until now relations with the church have been amicable.

"We've been fairly tolerant neighbours really. We're quite happy with the two congregations. We don't mind the odd bit of noise and celebrations. We don't ring noise control at the moment.

"Our bottom line is we don't want the two houses to be bowled. We want the church to act as a responsible neighbour," she says.

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The say they would like the church to consider other options including parking on Lambeth Rd which is much wider, or asking church goers to walk where possible.

- Central Leader

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