Simon Plumb is a journalist for the Herald on Sunday

Three Kings community seeks cash for quarry fight

Community members taking a controversial $1.2 billion property development to the Environment Court have launched a funding SOS for their David and Goliath battle.

The Three Kings Community Action group is seeking $150,000 to finance court action against Auckland Council, Environment and Housing Minister Nick Smith and Fletcher Building.

Smith used his right under the Resource Management Act to oppose an appeal by two residents' groups, the first time an Environment Minister has used this power since 1999.

The Three Kings development proposes up to 1500 apartments and townhouses on the site of the former Winstone quarry. Community members are fighting back, calling for less intensive housing and more open space on the edge of the Big King mountain Te Tatua a Riukiuta.

Three Kings United Group and South Epsom Planning Group are taking the action.

The Three Kings Community Action group fundraiser is on Givealittle, and it will give the money to the two groups for their fight.

On its page it warned: "Auckland Council, Fletchers and the Minister will turn up at the Environment Court with an army of lawyers and expert witnesses.

"Donations big and small, $20, $50, $100, $200, will help us pay for legal, planning and urban design experts who are needed in the Environment Court.

"If you can afford more that will be amazing. Every dollar counts on our way to raising $150,000."

Three Kings Community Action spokesman Greg McKeown said it had little choice but to go to court, and needed money to do so.

Deputy chair, Harry Doig, said the group was not satisfied with the way the development has been proposed.

Karen Collins has already donated to the cause and as a resident of almost 35 years said locals supported development in the area, but most were "horrified" by the scale.

"The strain 3500 more people will put on infrastructure - traffic, schools, daycare - is concerning," Collins said.

"Some five-minute journeys in the area already take 20 so that's only going to get worse and schools are already full."

Earthworks are already under way at the development site. Photo / Jason Oxenham
Earthworks are already under way at the development site. Photo / Jason Oxenham

Smith told the Herald on Sunday those donating should think about Auckland's housing crisis.

"People are free to make private donations to whatever cause they wish, but I would urge them to consider the needs of 1500 Auckland families looking for a home."

Smith said the ministry, not him, would decide how much public money goes into legal costs. "Government will be spending as much as required to ensure the court has good information and evidence to make a good decision for Auckland."

Steve Evans, Fletcher Building's chief of residential and land development, believed the company had "broad support from many Aucklanders for our plans".

"We have spent considerable effort identifying all of the infrastructure requirements and impacts as part of information presented to the hearings panel. Traffic specifically was widely discussed as part of the five-day hearing led by independent commissioners," he said.

Mediation between the parties is the first step, and court action will follow if issues cannot be resolved.

- Herald on Sunday

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