Key Points:

    Plans to transform an East Auckland reserve into a housing development have been met with opposition from those concerned it'll endanger the resident wildlife.

Plans to use an East Auckland reserve for housing are being opposed by people worried about local wildlife.

So far 561 people have signed an online petition calling for an end to a bill before Parliament that could see hundreds of homes and a marae built on the Pt England Reserve.

The Pt England Development Enabling Bill passed its first reading last month and is open for submissions before a second reading in April.

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The bill would pave the way for 300 homes - 20 per cent social housing and 20 per cent affordable - and a marae to be built on 13ha, or a quarter of the park's land. The project would be headed by Ngati Paoa and Tamaki Redevelopment.

Northern New Zealand dotterel chick, Point England November 2013. Source: http://savepe.org.nz/
Northern New Zealand dotterel chick, Point England November 2013. Source: http://savepe.org.nz/

Those behind the petition say the buildings could endanger birds nesting and roosting by the estuary.

"The development will destroy the primary roosting habitat of 50-90 per cent of the remaining wild shorebirds in the estuary," the petition read.

Although its organisers acknowledged the number of birds in the area was relatively small compared with elsewhere in the country, it said some of those roosting in the area were species in decline or endangered.

Birds spotted recently included the northern New Zealand dotterel, caspian terns and red-billed seagulls, all of which were endangered.

"This intensive housing development will bring cats and dogs and people into the nesting ground, evicting the birds. Ask for a better development proposal."

Comments from signatories echoed concerns the plans would destroy the balance of biodiversity.

"Auckland needs a plan that goes up not out, especially if it risks destroying a major dotterel habitat," wrote one.

Another feared there'd be no going back once the bill was signed.

Planned development: http://savepe.org.nz/
Planned development: http://savepe.org.nz/

"Reserves critical element for an intensified Auckland. Once they are gone they will never be reinstated."

After the bill passed its first reading former Housing Minister Nick Smith said a significant portion of the reserve would remain.

"The plan is about replacing the cows with homes and enhancing the balance of the reserve with improved recreational and cultural facilities.

"This initiative will give more families a warm, dry, affordable home, improve amenities in the area and help to resolve Ngati Paoa's Treaty settlement," Smith said.

Yesterday afternoon another opponent of the plans alerted the Herald to his petition on change.org.

Tsz Ho said it was one of the last pieces of open space in the area.

"Given the intensification that is planned for Glen Innes it seems absurd to lose any green space, as once it is built on there is no getting it back."

Ho's petition has so far gathered 750 supporters.