Residents fight high-density plans

SENSING CHANGE: Lawrence Thoms and other concerned residents don’t want development around this reserve fronting the Tamaki Estuary.
SENSING CHANGE: Lawrence Thoms and other concerned residents don’t want development around this reserve fronting the Tamaki Estuary.

Residents of a quiet suburb fear the council will "bulldoze through" high-density housing in their area.

Kentigern Residents Association chairman Lawrence Thoms believes the draft unitary plan will rezone the area north of Pakuranga Rd and west of Saint Kentigern's College to the Panmure bridge.

Deputy mayor Penny Hulse doubts most of the the area will be affected but Mr Thoms says he saw "a map on the wall" showing four-storey buildings.

He held a meeting on January 24 where people representing 80 residences voted unanimously against development.

Attendees will take their concerns to the Howick Local Board meeting on Monday.

"We've engaged an independent planner and a barrister and we are going to fight this strenuously," Mr Thoms says.

The council's draft unitary plan will be released next month and is to be the proposed rule book for what people can do on their properties and how natural and physical resources can be used.

There will be three months of public feedback followed by formal consultation starting in September at the earliest.

Ms Hulse says the current draft does not include the area of concern because the Howick Local Board is yet to adopt the Pakuranga Town Centre Masterplan.

"And I don't think it's going to be finalised by March in time to go into the draft draft unitary plan but it can certainly go out for discussion once the plan is notified," she says.

"I asked the staff, ‘is it going to be four storeys all over?', and they said ‘no, not at all'.

"There are areas for more intense development in Pakuranga town centre itself, there's some townhouse development that they are looking at closer to the coast," she says.

"And along the main Pakuranga highway they are looking at some more intense terraced housing but certainly not four storeys over the whole thing."

Last year the local board held a number of community workshops on the town centre plan, which will guide development in a radius of 800 metres around the shopping centre.

Board member David Collings says the masterplan can not be finalised until council planners and Auckland Transport decide where the AMETI bus interchange will go.

"I know it's frustrating for residents but we are equally frustrated," he says.

"It's major stuff and it's important we don't say these things are happening to people if they are not, because people get concerned about it."

Ms Hulse says that when the draft unitary plan is released there will be roadshows, community meetings and other opportunities for people to give feedback from March until May.

"We absolutely want to hear how people want the unitary plan developed, that's why we've put this extra step in. Normally councils would prepare the plan and then it would go out for formal submissions and that would be people's first encounter with it. It's never been done before."

Mr Thoms says the time set aside for consultation is too short to properly hear views of people across the city on proposed zone changes.

"It covers the whole of Auckland, not just our little area.

"There's not going to be a lot of consultation or seeking of input into this. It's going to be bulldozed through basically."

Barbara Brandley lives in the area and says her main issue is that "stakeholders" are consulted before draft plans are made and residents are consulted afterwards.

"We are the consultees once the plans have been decided on. We are not in there at the beginning. That's the upsetting part."

Eastern ward councillor Dick Quax says it is no secret mayor Len Brown wants "what he could have described as a quality, compact city".

Mr Quax says he is not opposed to intensification when it is embraced by the community.

"Where it's not embraced by the community I believe that it should be avoided," he says. "The issue is will people welcome intensification in that area. I certainly have my doubts about that."

Eastern Courier