Council defends project's zero consultation

KELLY DENNETT
Last updated 05:00 10/12/2013
Glen Eden Apartments
UNHAPPY: Lollipops Educare Centre owner and operator Grant Tretheway was never notified of the neighbouring development despite sharing a boundary line.

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It's the lack of consultation from Auckland Council that has disappointed Glen Eden residents the most.

Neighbours of an apartment block due to be built on Wilson Rd next year are dismayed the development's resource consent was granted on a non notified basis.

The five-storey block will house 28 dwellings of around 63 square metres, including one level of 31 car parks.

The site lies between an existing apartment block and Lollipops Educare Centre.

Resource consent was granted to Wilson Road Development by Auckland Council in July without community consultation, with the duty commissioner saying adverse effects on the environment would be no more than minor.

This was despite receiving correspondence from nine opposed residents with concerns ranging from loss of sunlight, devaluation of their properties, doubt about stormwater infrastructure, fears of further flooding, increased traffic and lack of parking.

Lollipops owner Grant Tretheway says it wasn't until he spotted a group of council workers assessing the neighbouring land that he found out about the plans.

He says an easterly accessway will border the centre's boundary offering a clear vantage point of it's outdoor play areas.

Mr Tretheway is also concerned about reverse noise sensitivity saying future residents could potentially call noise control on the centre.

He says the process has been ‘railroaded' and council communication lacking.

In August he had to file an official information request for access to stormwater plans.

Consultation from the very beginning would have given all parties an opportunity to talk through their concerns on an equal footing, he says.

"Until then you're just classified as a concerned resident and once it's notified all you can do is ask for a judicial review at the cost of tens of thousands of dollars."

Waitakere Ranges Local Board member Greg Presland says the board was also unaware of the plans until about June.

He too was surprised at the lack of notification.

"The scale of the development is very large and it has significant effects on neighbours," Mr Presland says.

"Notification could have given the public the ability to know what was being planned and have some input into the decision."

Captain Scott Rd resident Angela Almond says council weren't interested in letters her building's body corporate sent detailing their fears.

"It got rushed through before anybody found out about it," she says.

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"If they had there would have been a huge public outcry and they would have definitely had to take notice."

A spokesperson for Auckland Council says the Resource Management Act and the Waitakere District Plan require applications be notified if adverse effects on adjacent properties are minor or more than minor in scale.

A recommendation on whether the application for the apartment building should be notified was referred to an independent commissioner.

"The commissioner decided that the adverse effects upon the environment would be no more than minor in scale and that there were no adversely affected parties. As such, the application was processed on a non-notified basis."

The area is still subject to conditions imposed under the Waitakere District Plan where height restrictions in Glen Eden are unlimited.

Under the Proposed Unitary Plan they'll be curtailed to 24.5 metres, or six storeys.

Initial plans for the land were for 18 apartments.

Wilson Road Development director Marcus Jacobson says the company looked at various areas in West Auckland but settled on the Wilson Rd location because of it's proximity to the train station and supermarket.

"It's an area where there has been a lack of different types of accommodation available," he says.

"It fits with what council is trying to achieve with the unitary plan. We're trying to provide choice."

They weren't required to talk to neighbours and he says he was unaware residents were unhappy until after consent was approved.

He says talks with council began last year and there were three pre-hearing meetings before the consent application went through.

"These things don't happen overnight," he says.

"We spent a lot of time with council making sure the design we had was suitable for council's requirements."

So far eight of the apartments have sold with a further six needing to be secured before construction can begin.

There has been a lot of interest from residents and mums and dads looking to downsize, Mr Jacobson says.

"I think that goes to show . . . demand for the product."

The construction tender process will begin in the new year with completion estimated by Christmas 2014.

- Western Leader

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