Intensive housing plans feared

AERIAL SHOT: Ngati Whatua land in Devonport.
AERIAL SHOT: Ngati Whatua land in Devonport.

Hidden intensification plans for Ngati Whatua land in Devonport will put greater strain on gridlocked Lake Rd, residents fear.

But the chief executive of Ngati Whatua Orakei's investment arm says it's still investigating options and isn't hiding anything.

The start of geotechnical work on the 4.6ha former navy housing land in Wakakura Cres has heightened concern.

Ngati Whatua Orakei Whai Rawa chief executive Rob Hutchison says this is early work to inform future decision making.

The sub tribe bought about 25ha of surplus defence land in the Bayswater, Belmont, Hauraki and Devonport area in February.

Auckland Council's draft unitary plan proposes allowing varying heights, of one to four storeys, in specific areas on the six sites ranging from 1.9ha to 8.5ha.

The Wakakura Cres block is the only vacant site because other Ngati Whatua land is leased back to the New Zealand Defence Force.

This includes the 3.2ha Fort Takapuna land in Vauxhall Rd controversially included in a Treaty settlement.

The earliest Ngati Whatua could acquire the Vauxhall Rd land back is in 15 years.

Other sites are leased for navy housing at least until February 2018.

Petra Heemskerk lives close to the Wakakura Cres site and dropped leaflets in the neighbourhood raising concerns.

She says most people are in the dark about the proposals that weren't in the first draft of the unitary plan.

Ms Heemskerk says Ngati Whatua Orakei isn't talking publicly about plans but she fears they will push for a highly intensive development to provide affordable homes.

The scale of intensification on six former navy sites combined with a push for housing at Bayswater marina is worrying in the absence of traffic planning for how Lake Rd would cope, Ms Heemskerk says.

"It seems to be crazy to be talking about that much intensification."

Another resident near the Wakakura Cres site, Paul Simmonds, says even a 100 unit development would have a severe impact on Lake Rd traffic.

Traffic travels through a single intersection from Wakakura Cres but putting traffic lights at the base of the hill would create a hazard, he says.

Residents want affordable housing in the area but the huge scale of what could be built is concerning, along with complete lack of consultation, Mr Simmonds says.

Mr Hutchison says existing district plan rules would allow a single terraced housing block up to two storeys.

But he says allowing varied heights up to four storeys would result in a better designed development with more affordable housing for young people and greater open space.

Mr Hutchison says Ngati Whatua hopes to provide more housing options for the elderly and navy staff. This would put less strain on Lake Rd traffic than other developments and as a former chief executive of North Shore City Council he is well aware of traffic issues, he says.

He says Ngati Whatua hopes to finish its unitary plan submission in early February and says the council is responsible for public consultation on that process.

Submissions to the draft unitary plan close on February 28. Go to aucklandcouncil. for details. Residents hold a public meeting on December 19 at 7.30pm in Holy Trinity Church hall, 20 Church St, Devonport.

North Shore Times