Hundreds of residents fight Ellerslie racecourse rezoning

By Isaac Davison

A group of Ellerslie residents fear a successful rezoning submission in their suburb will pave the way for more development in green, open spaces.

Ellerslie Racecourse Rezone Opposition Society held a public meeting last night to tell residents about Auckland Racing Club's rezoning submission to the Auckland City Council, which aims to change the status of some land from open spaces to high-density housing.

The group says the proposed tower apartment blocks, some of which could reach 12 storeys, would ruin the skyline, and development would worsen the traffic flow in the area.

Society spokesman Daniel Maclaren said: "There are residents here who are in heritage houses and are not allowed to develop above one storey. They will have their view changed considerably by this development."

The Ladies Mile resident said it took him 20 minutes to get out of his driveway last week. "This will only worsen if this plan goes forward."

Racing club chief executive Chris Weaver said opposition to the development was from an isolated group of residents, who had exaggerated the plans. "[Most] Ellerslie residents will embrace this development - it will drive up property prices ...

and create more jobs."

Mr Weaver said the project would include "beautiful buildings" which were completely landscaped, similar to the Ascot Hospital near the racecourse.

He said developers had been "somewhat frugal" in releasing the plans, "but a few people have taken hold of [them], made inaccurate claims, and the opposition has taken a life of its own".

"Once we have a plan to submit we can have some more meaningful discussion."

Mr Maclaren resented the depiction of the society as an angry minority, pointing to the 200-plus crowd at last night's meeting and the presence of Labour MP Carol Beaumont and National MP Sam Lotu-Iiga.

Ms Beaumont said she "was not anti-development. But [she] could not picture 12-storey buildings near Ellerslie race-course. It will not work."

A proposal covering land on the racecourse's "home straight" is before the council and should reach public notification at the end of next month. A second submission is still in the planning phase.

- NZ Herald

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