03 May 2013

Plan rattles residents

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Written by: Joe Dawson
Published: Auckland Now – Central Leader

CONNECTED COMMUNITY: Grotto St resident James Willoughby and others say their ‘‘connected community’’ will be destroyed if the Unitary Plan goes ahead as is.

CONNECTED COMMUNITY: Grotto St resident James Willoughby and others say their ‘‘connected community’’ will be destroyed if the Unitary Plan goes ahead as is.

James Willoughby says his street and many others in Onehunga are fine just the way they are and don’t need to have high density housing added to turn them into a community.

The Grotto St resident says he is among many in his neighbourhood perturbed by the plans laid out for their suburb in the Auckland Council’s Unitary Plan.

The plan is dubbed Auckland’s rule book for guiding how the city develops over the next 30 years and earmarks Onehunga for major development and housing intensification.

Planning maps show several blocks from Onehunga Mall to Captain Springs Rd have been identified as areas where increased residential building height and density is possible.

But Mr Willoughby says there are many “unloved” areas of Auckland that would benefit from redevelopment and established communities should be left alone.

“It was not a pleasant surprise when I saw our quiet suburban street is earmarked for the highest form of intensification,” he says.

“We already have a wonderful community and it seems perverse they would want to displace a great community and replace it with something a lot less connected.”

A street party is held on the Grotto St reserve each year and residents are in regular contact through an email list, Mr Willoughby says. He says many were unaware of the potential implications of the Unitary Plan.

“We’ve started a groundswell, which was easy to initiate. The response from the street was ‘wow, I didn’t know that was happening’.”

A meeting will be held on May 6 to give Onehunga the opportunity to hear from Auckland Council senior planner Penny Pirrit.

Maungakiekie MP Sam Lotu-Iiga says he has also received a lot of correspondence from constituents confused about the plan.

He will be meeting with Ms Pirrit ahead of the meeting.

“It’s quite a complicated business,” he says.

“We all accept if we’re going to solve housing problems we need to intensify, but the feedback I’m getting is about the scale around it.”

Mr Lotu-Iiga recommends people attend the community meeting and “challenge” the council planners on how they came up with their ideas.

The public meeting will be held at the Onehunga RSA on May 6 at 6.30pm.


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