Locals fight out of character housing

By Anna Ferrick

About half a dozen Napier Hill residents were in court yesterday to contest Napier City Council's decision to allow a mini-village of units for people with mental health issues to be built between Paradise Rd and Chaucer Rd.

Residents first became aware of the plan to build the units in mid-August last year when a bulldozer arrived to clear the overgrown site.

Napier City Council had granted resource consent to Whatever It Takes Trust, a registered mental health services provider, in March, allowing them to develop the seven proposed units.

A lawyer representing the residents, Martin Williams, said yesterday his clients are concerned about the units not being in keeping with the character homes that dominate the area.

He said residents are also concerned the units will exacerbate traffic congestion and parking issues on the narrow streets.

Mr Williams told the court the Napier City Council had approved the resource consent without following proper processes for consultation with neighbours and the community.

He said residents of Paradise Rd and Chaucer Rd would have presented submissions to the council on the plan had they been informed before it was granted.

He said the "wrong questions" were asked in relation to how the development could impact residents in the area.

"Even expert planners will reach the wrong conclusions if they ask the wrong questions."

He told the court he was not just challenging the lack of notification given by the council but the acceptance of the resource consent at all.

Despite this, he said the case is not a matter of residents not wanting a residential care unit on their street.

He said at least one resident had drawn up an alternative to the plan.

"It would have been the exact submission she could have presented at a meeting had she been given the opportunity."

A lawyer for the council, Michael Wenley, said while the units do not look like "colonial villas", they don't have to.

"They haven't got pitched roofs. There are plenty of people on the hill who would've loved it if the people in front of them built houses with flat roofs rather than pitched ones," Mr Wenley said.

He said considerations had been made for parking in the plans, meaning the development would not exacerbate any current traffic issues.

The site on Napier Hill has been cleared but building work is yet to begin.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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