31 May 2013

We like it the way it is: locals

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Written by: Wayne Thompson
Photo: Brett Phibbs
Published: The New Zealand Herald – 31 May 2013

People in 13 Balmoral streets question proposed apartments in their character district.

Alexandra Inkersell (left, with baby Emily) and Claude Galpin (with son Benjamin) oppose apartments in their character street.

Alexandra Inkersell (left, with baby Emily) and Claude Galpin (with son Benjamin) oppose apartments in their character street.

Claude Galpin is shocked that Auckland Council planners have earmarked her Balmoral neighbourhood of old family homes as sites for future terrace houses and apartment buildings.

“Our family doesn’t want it because it does not make sense. There are so many beautiful houses and, from a practical view, this scale of development will cause problems.

“We don’t have the area to absorb the volume of people. Dominion Rd has a traffic jam every day – it would be horrendous and there is the effect on parking and the schools.”

Mrs Galpin said that in her street, Tenterden Ave, most residents had banded together to discuss the effects of planning rule changes in the draft Unitary Plan.

More than 40 group submissions were coming from residents of 13 Balmoral streets, opposing the siting of terraced houses and apartments and extension of the village’s commercial area into residential streets.

James Flexman said his small dead-end street near Potters Park had an attractive character and history which would be undermined by higher-density development.

“We all like it the way it is.”

Mr Flexman said residents’ research found original houses in Tenterden Ave were built in the 1930s by the same architect and builder, George Hatcher, who named it after his home town in Kent, England.

The submissions said the plan spelled major change for the community and should reflect the special heritage character environment.

Buildings proposed to a height of four storeys would destroy the residential character by dominating and shadowing adjoining sites, blocking sunlight and views, reducing privacy, green areas and trees and degrading the existing housing stock.

As an alternative, the groups preferred the mixed housing zone but asked it be capped at 8m or two storeys, instead of being left to the council to decide if a building went to 10m or three storeys.

However, the Unitary Plan was supported by Tracey Macleod of Dexter Ave, one of the streets affected by proposed changes. She urged people to think about the future, read the plan and make submissions.

“This isn’t about preserving home values and imagined neighbourhood atmospheres. It’s about how best to serve future Aucklanders and save them from the awful sprawl of cities like Athens.”

Auckland Council Unitary Plan manager John Duguid said a Future Planning Framework study done by the former city council had identified streets north of Balmoral Rd as suitable for higher density as they were near transport, shops and amenities.

“But we have to protect character and heritage as well. We rely on residents to express their concerns that may justify rezoning to a lower density like mixed housing.”

He said a heritage study was under way in the streets south of Balmoral Rd which would influence September’s final draft plan.

Building up Balmoral

Terraced housing, apartment zoning as well as mixed housing zoning proposed for: Marsden Ave, Kensington Ave, Queens Ave, Halston Rd, Rocklands Ave, Matipo St, Tenterden Ave, Dexter Ave, Brixton Rd, Wiremu St, Dunbar Rd, St Albans Ave and Eldon Rd.

Local business zoning for: Kensington Ave, Queens Ave, Halston Rd and Rocklands Ave.

Unitary Plan 10,000 submissions received.

5pm today: Submissions close and officials begin a summary of feedback by theme and locality.

June and July: Workshops with local boards and key stakeholders.

September: Final draft plan published and open for formal submissions.


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