28 Feb 2013

High-rise plans are flawed says councillor

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Written by: Liz Willis
Published: Auckland Now / North Shore Times – 28 February 2013

BEACHFRONT FEARS: Apartments up to six storeys high in Browns Bay’s town centre is too high and will force those further back to vie for sea views, says councillor Wayne Walker

BEACHFRONT FEARS: Apartments up to six storeys high in Browns Bay’s town centre is too high and will force those further back to vie for sea views, says councillor Wayne Walker

Residents will have to again fight battles they thought they had won to stop beachfront high rises, Albany councillor Wayne Walker says.

And in what will be a blow for those intent on pushing through plans to intensify housing in the city, Mr Walker says Auckland Council’s plans are flawed.

Browns Bay, Milford and Orewa are among communities threatened by the council’s proposed new development rules, Mr Walker says.

“The last thing you want is a band of high buildings close to the beachfront that effectively block views and enjoyment of the beach.”

Mr Walker, usually a key Len Brown supporter, says that from the start of talks on the draft Unitary Plan he has spoken up against high rise for Orewa and Browns Bay.

People in Milford, Orewa and Browns Bay have already won battles against high rise and will not like the draft Unitary Plan, he says.

Milford Residents Association has only just celebrated winning a fight against a 16-storey development in Milford Village.

Now, days later, they’re rallying to oppose eight-storey development under the Unitary Plan.

In Browns Bay in the late 1990s a beachfront action committee successfully fought an eight-storey, 25m development all the way to the High Court.

The draft Unitary Plan proposes similar height development up to six storeys high.

Terraced housing zones on the edges of town centres will allow up to five storeys, Mr Walker says.

Multi-storey apartments would dominate town centres as people vie for beachfront views, he says.

Mr Walker says those who lose their views and cannot afford to redevelop will sell to people who can.

High apartments will affect views, privacy and sunlight, and create wind tunnels, he warns.

All ratepayers also face “a perfect storm” from increased infrastructure costs, he says.

The government is looking at forcing councils to cut reserve contributions bills that everyone developing a site pays towards infrastructure upgrades.

Mr Walker says that if that happens existing ratepayers face even bigger rate rises to cover the cost of new infrastructure.

Hibiscus Bays Local Board deputy chairman David Cooper says he is “absolutely disgusted with the Auckland Council’s apparent steamrollering of our area plan”.

Mr Cooper says it is unfair that in contrast, intensification protection is proposed for Howick East, Mellons Bay and Cockle Bay,

The board’s area plan satisfied the council’s desire for an extra 29,000 dwellings over the next 30 years by allowing three-to-four-storey buildings in appropriate areas, he says, and even greater intensification would occur if six-storey apartments are built.

Board member Gary Holmes accuses planners and councillors of using Browns Bay “like a token in their game of Monopoly where they are trying to see how many people they can squeeze into the small seaside suburb”.

“How many times will we have to revisit the same arguments?” Mr Holmes asks.

“The East Coast Bays community has been debating the issue of appropriate heights in our town centre for more than a decade and I won’t accept Auckland Council bureaucrats and politicians trying to stamp their mark on our turf.”



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