Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

Birkenhead boarding house gets up nose of neighbours

Birkenhead residents are up in arms over a boarding house rising in a picturesque boutique shopping street.
Birkenhead residents are concerned about the 'type of people' boarding house might attract. Photo / Greg Bowker
Birkenhead residents are concerned about the 'type of people' boarding house might attract. Photo / Greg Bowker

Birkenhead residents are up in arms over a boarding house rising in a picturesque boutique shopping street and worry about the "type of people" it might bring.

Birkenhead Residents Association members decried work at 194-198 Hinemoa St where consent has been granted for additions and alterations to an existing commercial building for the establishment and operation of a 62-bed boarding house.

They questioned how Panmure Trust's project got consent and retailers Jo Sutton and Paul McKenzie, of Bambina International, nearby are worried.

"Our retail store is aimed at mums and babies and small children are in the immediate vicinity. The type of people who typically live at this kind of address are definitely not the type we want permanently in the vicinity of our store. We are concerned for the safety of our staff and customers as well as a potential increase in shoplifting. Birkenhead has more than it's share of colourful characters already. We agree that a boarding house is most definitely residential.

We will be doing all that we can to add our voice to this battle," they told the association.

Sutton said houses in the street regularly sold for $1 million-plus, the project was near the Birkenhead Library, plunket rooms, a park and the Citizens Advice Bureau and the local board was behind a big push to enhance the area.

Nick Kearney, Kaipataki Local Board deputy chairman, said consent for the boarding house was processed on a non-notified basis because the project complied in almost all aspects. The works planned were a permitted activity, he said, therefore did not need to be notified, although he was aware of feeling in the community against the project.

Auckland Council granted the approval and the board had no active role in it, Mr Kearney said.

The council report on the project said there was no need to call for objections.

"There is no basis for the council to exercise its broad discretion to publicly notify the application because the proposal is conventional in nature and represents no significant deviation from the range of effects anticipated by the plan," said the report. Hinemoa St is an "edge of town centre street" and providing an active/public use at the street front is not considered to be an absolute necessity, it said.

The provision of a continuous veranda along the street facade would ensure that the appearance of the building is consistent with the expectations of the District Plan and maintained the character and amenity of the town centre, it concluded.

- NZ Herald

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