Three-year-old opposes high-rises

Ekhi submits his views to council

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 14/08/2014
Ekhi De Jager
JOHN COWPLAND / Fairfax NZ

SAFETY FIRST: Ekhi De Jager on the footpath of his narrow street on Napier Hill. His submission was written by mum Eneritz Echeverria, but were his words. ‘‘I find it very scary because I step straight from my house onto the road to be able to cross the road to get to the footpath,’’ he said.

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Three-year-old Ekhi De Jager is probably the youngest person to make a submission under the Resource Management Act.

His 306-word submission is one of 33 received by the Napier City Council on Todd Property's resource consent application to build a couple of high rises on Napier Hill.

Ekhi opposes the development and told mum Eneritz Echeverria what to type on his iPad: "I love walking to Lollipops childcare and to see my friends at the park. However, I find it very scary because I step straight from my house onto the road to be able to cross the road to get to the footpath.

"Furthermore, the exit of my house is right where the road turns to the left."

Several submitters hold similar concerns about the effect the development would have on traffic on the hill's narrow streets.

Todd Property wants to demolish the old hospital building and replace it with two 31-metre-high eight-storey apartment blocks, six detached homes and 21 terraced houses.

Each tower block, clad in white, would have 18 apartments, with a private gym and public cafe on their respective ground floors.

Ekhi lives with his mum and dad Francis De Jager in Goldsmith Rd. Both parents made submissions outlining their concerns and urged the council to consider making the street one-way, widen its footpath, or put a footpath on the other side of the road, if the development went ahead.

De Jager said Ekhi conveyed what he wanted to say, and his mum typed the submission.

"I don't think a child's view should be considered any less important than anyone else's.

"It's definitely in his interests to make a submission on this. It's a busy road at the best of times and I can only see it getting busier and more dangerous, and we're definitely not the only family with young children on this road."

De Jager pointed out that he supported the proposal, and it was only the traffic that concerned him.

There is no age restriction on who can make a submission under the RMA. A Ministry for the Environment spokeswoman said it was unaware of anyone as young as Ekhi having made a submission before.

City council senior planner Paul O'Shaughnessy said Ekhi's submission would be considered alongside all others.

A decision would be made in the weeks ahead as to whether a hearing would be held.

Todd Property managing director Evan Davies said he understood the council would consider all matters raised in submissions carefully.

"We note that the limited opposition is mostly focused on localised traffic volume issues, which will be significantly less than that experienced by residents when the hospital was open."

ROOF WITH A VIEW?

Napier's Art Deco Trust and Historic Places Hawke's Bay have made a combined submission, saying the hospital site has important historical associations "dating from the arrival of the 65th Regiment in 1858". It was "where people were nursed, born and died" and the site's "spectacular views" were compensation for people's suffering.

The groups wanted a viewing area to be created on the roof of one of the towers. "We see this becoming one of Napier's major tourist attractions, one which would attract thousands of tourists and locals."

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Todd Property managing director Evan Davies said the company would "carefully review the submission", but "our initial view is that a rooftop viewing area is unlikely to be viable". 

Comments have been closed on this story. 

- The Dominion Post

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