Debate over high density housing

CARALISE TRAYES
Last updated 05:00 05/02/2013
Orewa

HIGH HORIZON: Some residents, council and local board representatives reject suggestions high-rises are needed to boost business and cater for population growth.

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High-rises are not the answer, critics of calls for such developments say.

Pressure to create high density housing through the Auckland unitary plan and from some Orewa businesses is opposed by a number of residents and their council representatives.

Several Hibiscus and Bays Local Board members and Auckland councillor and Albany ward representative Wayne Walker agree.

"No more high-rises in Orewa," they say.

Board chairwoman Julia Parfitt says the growth could tip infrastructure over the edge.

"There is already strain on the stormwater system. Then we have wastewater and also social pressures," Mrs Parfitt says.

"We have a huge demand on schools in the area. Unlike other parts of the country where roll numbers are going down, we have ours going up and schools having to be far more rigid in keeping their zones," Mrs Parfitt says.

"If we are going to accommodate the growth the Auckland unitary plan suggests then we need to see a financial plan showing investment in infrastructure to cater for it."

Mr Walker, of Whangaparaoa, whose council portfolio includes sustainability, stormwater and flooding, says the intensification would have a dire impact on the environment.

"Orewa is a risky place to develop. It has a high water table, which is getting higher. That means you can't have underground parking. The flat part of the land is largely built on reclaimed dunes and swamp," Mr Walker says.

"There are substantial risks around Orewa already affecting it now, and will do so more in the future. Flooding will become a serious problem."

Mr Walker says residents have raised major concerns around loss of views, shading and wind tunnel affects.

Hibiscus and Bays Local Board member John Watson says there is overwhelming opposition from residents against high-rises.

"Orewa is already doing more than its share with contributing to Auckland's growth. You just have to look at Millwater, The Grange, and Silverdale North.

"The idea of high-rises is driven by a small group of vested interest developers and business people."

Mrs Parfitt says high-rises and apartments won't solve the issue of affordable housing in the area.

"In the Auckland region you will not find affordable housing, and coastal properties are always attractive. They will always come at a higher price."

High-rises aren't a quick fix to Orewa's retail challenges either, Mr Watson says.

"Orewa has a lot more people than five years ago but the problem hasn't been solved.

"A couple of high-rise buildings is not going to solve difficulties for businesses. What could be done is develop the concept of the town centre on the beach," Mr Watson says.

Mrs Parfitt says turning Orewa into a destination will boost business in the area.

Mr Walker agrees: "Once the bridge linking Grand Drive and Millwater opens up, you will see a lot more people travelling around the area."

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- Rodney Times

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