Protesters this morning picketed a hearing into Ryman Healthcare's big Devonport retirement village plans on Auckland's North Shore, calling for a hearing to reject it.
To chants of "Ngataringa Bay, have your say!", the placard-waiving protestors sang and chanted outside Auckland Council's Takapuna offices where independent hearing commissioners have just begun sitting for a week to decide on the huge scheme.
David King, Ryman spokesman, arrived for the hearing, saying it was the first time he had seen a public protest against a village developed by the NZX listed giant.
"We're looking forward to the hearing. I think everyone agrees we need more care in Devonport and I think they agree too," King said, referring to the group of protestors.
Ryman plans to build a non-complying project on a greenfields ex-navy site on the corner of Lake Rd, Wakakura Cres and Ngataringa Rd on land it has leased for 150 years from Ngati Whatua Whai Rawa. It wants 195 apartments, a 120-bed hospital and 78 serviced suites on the Wakakura site in a group of blocks.
Iain Rea of the Ngataringa Bay Action Group - formed to influence the project - said he feared the effects of six-level blocks on the Mary Barrett Glade, an adjoining coastal strip of regenerating native forest with 200-year-old pohutakawa trees, kauri trees and fish breeding grounds between Ngataringa Bay and the Ryman project.
"My children walk through Polly's Park," he said referring to the area once tended by the late Polly Pollock who lived nearby and established the glade as a memorial to her late daughter.
Six storey buildings would shade that park and Grey Power had called Ryman's proposal "prison architecture", fearing older people would be isolated from the community Rea said.
The Ryman scheme would mean about 600 people would be living in what would be an isolating, gated community, Rea said.
A "world famous" and much-photographed view from Mt Victoria/Takuranga looking towards Takapuna would be ruined if Ryman went ahead and built its village as planned, Rea said.
The group held banners with art work referencing the famous Don Binney Ngataringa Bay painting and sang "This land in your land", changing the lyrics in the second line to "From Lake Pupuke to Maungauika, from Takapuna to Ngataringa, this land was made for you and me."
Ryman and its experts including Clinton Bird are presenting evidence today and tomorrow, then objectors will have their say.
Questions were raised about community protest against the Devonport village at Ryman's half-year results briefing in Auckland last month. One institutional investor wanted to know how confident executives were about the project.
Simon Challies, Ryman chief executive, said that under the Unitary Plan, Ryman could put more on the site than it was proposing. Its scheme would fit in with the neighbourhood and and effects would be no more than minor, he said.