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Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Council asks locals to offer housing plan

Residents association urged to draft alternative after higher-density proposal roundly rejected.

The Milford Residents Association says eight-level buildings are too high for the township's centre. Photo / Brett Phibbs
The Milford Residents Association says eight-level buildings are too high for the township's centre. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Auckland Council has handed a map to the Milford Residents Association and urged it to have a go at drawing an appropriate location for higher-density housing after its own proposal was rejected by a hostile meeting of 500 people.

The association hosted a full-house meeting to hear regional and local planning manager Penny Pirrit explain the draft Unitary Plan elevating the small low-rise town centre to a large one, with building heights of up to eight storeys.

The senior council official was quizzed by residents wary of growth plans for the village after a four-year campaign by its shopping mall owner to try to rezone for buildings twice that height.

At one point, Ms Pirrit was asked whether planners took into account the narrow nature of the land from the bush of Lake Pupuke to within one block of Milford beach.

"We are squeezed in," said the questioner.

Ms Pirrit said the nature of the land was taken into account.

"We are not claiming we have this 100 per cent right in the draft plan which is why I'm keen to get your feedback on it.

"I've given a map to association members to draw up the right location for terrace housing and for appropriate heights in the town centre and get your local knowledge and feedback."

Later, a vote was put to the meeting on whether the unitary plan was going in the right direction. Association co-chairperson Debbie Dunsford said an overwhelming number said it was not.

"We feel levels are too high, not appropriate," she said. "It should be lower than eight storeys on the main road, which is only a two-lane road."

The association is a party to an Environment Court case where NZ Retail Property Group is appealing against the council's rejection in February of its bid to use the air space above the mall for up to 250 apartments.

Devonport-Takapuna Local Board chairman Chris Darby said it would continue to stand by Milford residents against high-rise.

However, he noted many at the meeting understood the need for appropriate additional height in the town centre and particularly younger people wanted the choice of housing types.

Auckland-wide, community meetings on the draft Unitary Plan have protested at high-rise and in-fill housing in more than half Auckland's urban area.

On Monday, nine of 20 Auckland Council members wrote to the Prime Minister urging him to slow down the process of the complex plan passing from draft form to a legal rule book by September.

- NZ Herald

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