Wayne Thompson

Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Belmont intensification 'madness'

Residents fear tripling population density in peninsula suburb served by a single road will cause traffic chaos.

Tony Keenan says his Belmont community has been left frightened and angry after learning of its role in the intensified housing proposals of Auckland Council's draft Unitary Plan.

The retired lawyer said residents of the North Shore suburb had to hold their own meeting during the 11-week "public engagement" period on the planning rulebook.

On a wet Sunday more than 200 came.

They were shocked to hear that the plan proposed three times the present density through four-storey terrace housing and apartments on both sides of Lake Rd and surrounding streets.

Four storeys were proposed for the town centre.

"The biggest issue was how could the council embark on such an intensification programme without pre-planning the requisite infrastructure?" Mr Keenan said.

"The schools are full, there are no civic amenities and little local employment, so most people have to travel out.

"What is that going to do to Lake Rd? It is madness to intensify this peninsula when there is only one way in and out."

Mr Keenan said Auckland had a bad history of after-the-event Band-Aid transport planning and it seemed this was going to happen again.

The Belmont community's submission on the plan said it rejected proposals affecting the Devonport peninsula, including Bayswater.

Apartments and terrace housing of 14m in height would destroy the leafy suburban neighbourhood, they say.

It was possible the whole of the Belmont sector could be rezoned depending only on planners' exercise of discretion in favour of a developer.

"No neighbour's consent is required and there is no right of appeal to the decision," Mr Keenan said. "We consider that to be undemocratic and abhorrent to us.

"I was 35 years in legal practice and a lot of my client were developers. I can tell you from experience: do not repose the character of our communities in the hands of the developers. It's a very bad idea."

In East Auckland, Tamaki Housing Group spokeswoman Sue Henry took to the council 673 submission forms collected from residents.

"A lot of the forms have still not come back," she said.

"We strongly object to the Unitary Plan proposal of uprooting existing communities and enforcing multistorey intensified slums on residents.

"We want Auckland's growth capped and intensification proposals scrapped in their entirety, because there is a better way of doing it."

A spokesman for Mayor Len Brown said the Unitary Plan had so far drawn 3000 individual submissions. The council had held more than 200 organised events about the plan and about 70,000 people had visited the Unitary Plan website shapeauckland.co.nz.

Unitary Plan feedback

* Public feedback closes at 5pm on Friday.
* Phone (09) 301-0101 for forms and questions.
* Visit shapeauckland.co.nz for more information or to provide feedback.
* Tweet @aklcouncil using #shapeauckland

What happens next?

* June: Council officers summarise feedback by theme and locality.
* June & July: Council makes changes to the final draft plan with local boards and key stakeholders.
* September: Final draft plan published.

- NZ Herald

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