Developers push the boundaries

LAUREN PRIESTLEY
Last updated 05:00 11/06/2014
Keith Milne
Lauren Priestley

BIG IMPACT: Keith Milne is worried about the impact a proposed development will have on his heritage neighbourhood.

PLanned apartment block
HIGH RISE: A seven-storey apartment block is planned for 367-375 Great North Rd.

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Stick to the rules.

That's the call from beleagured Auckland residents facing the prospect of a development on the doorsteps of their heritage villas as the region works to house a fast-growing population.

Leading the charge is Keith Milne who has lived in Grey Lynn since the 1980s and in his current home for 19 years.

He lives next door to 367-375 Great North Rd, where a seven-storey apartment building is planned, and is worried about the future of the area.

The proposal exceeds the area's height restrictions by more than 8 metres and has a planned floor area double the size of what's allowed in the district plan.

"The developers push the boundaries as high as they can because more floors mean more money. But if this happens here, then other developers can argue they want the same."

Milne is not opposed to development in general but says the scale of the proposal is ridiculous.

Developers originally presented a five-storey proposal with only 20 apartments.

The proposed building would cast a shadow across Great North Rd, add to the long-standing parking problems and change the heritage character of the area, Milne says.

"If there's anywhere you want to enforce your height limits, shouldn't it be directly next to the buildings you're trying to protect? This is where it should be enforced the most.

"Grey Lynn is reported to have the largest collection of intact victorian villas in the world. That's pretty important."

An Auckland Council spokesperson says the development application is on hold awaiting further information. After that the council will decide if the development needs to be notified or not.

Developer Greer Stephens from Urban Collective says his team has worked hard to get the design of the building right.

The apartments have been set back 9 metres from the residential boundary and the top two floors are set even further back, he says.

The extra height does not block anyone's view or shade any neighbours, he says.

Auckland Council has been involved in the design process from the beginning and the developers received a "clear mandate" that larger, taller, better quality apartments were needed, Stephens says.

"It is critical that locations such as this be allowed to be developed to their full potential in order to allow for the intensification of the city without threatening the destruction of the existing heritage we all love so much."

Waitemata Local Board chairman Shale Chambers says members support intensification but there is a limit.

The area is ideally suited for mixed use residential development however it needs to be done within the rules, he says.

"It's a bit rich of a developer to push the envelope further. As a board we fully understand the community's concerns and we will be watching it with great interest."

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- Auckland City Harbour News

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