Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Call to cut buildings down to size

North Shore residents worried that three- and four-storey apartments could rise on vacant waterfront land.

The Wakakura block owned by Ngati Whatua o Orakei above Ngataringa Bay. Photo / Dean Purcell
The Wakakura block owned by Ngati Whatua o Orakei above Ngataringa Bay. Photo / Dean Purcell

People on a North Shore street where up to 100 new residences could rise are worried about building height and traffic issues and want the community to rein in the developers.

A flyer distributed along Ngataringa Rd asked locals if they knew three- and four-storey apartment blocks could rise on the empty Wakakura block owned by Ngati Whatua o Orakei above Ngataringa Bay.

Flyer writer and resident Petra Heemskerk wants people to try to stop the intensive housing estate because buildings up to four levels or 14.5m could rise in the centre of the site, up to three storeys or 11m along Ngataringa Rd and up to 8m or two storeys alongside the Lake Rd and Wakakura Cres ends of the site.

"The issue is not the development of the site in itself. I think it is fair to say that most residents here are not opposed to the land being developed," she said.

"The issue is intensive development. The streets near Wakakura Cres are all dead-end streets with one- or two-storey houses and it is hard to see how apartment blocks will fit in with the character of the neighbouring area."

Another resident, Paul Simmonds, feared stress infrastructure, traffic issues and building heights.

"The Lake Rd arterial is vulnerable to yet more traffic load," he said, citing additional Royal NZ Navy traffic from an expanded fleet and the support services it uses.

"Adding high-density housing on to an existing choke point to the peninsula implies a gross neglect of planning approval responsibilities," Mr Simmonds said. Ngarimu Blair, a Ngati Whatua board member, said yesterday initial geotechnic investigations had been made but traffic issues could be overcome.

"We've got to make the most of the existing public transport. It's pretty well served by ferries and dedicated bus lanes will go on Lake Rd. So it's not a unique situation in Auckland and people have got to start thinking [about] public transport," Mr Blair said.

Site plans were still being developed.

"We've not got any plans at the moment and that's why we're doing geotechnics," he said.

Rob Hutchison, Ngati Whatua Whai Rawa chief executive, said regular geotechnical work related to insurance and planning had been done in the past month.

"This was not undertaken prior to purchase of the surplus Defence Force land earlier this year and it is an important part of the process to help us decide what development options might be available there.

"At this stage nothing has been confirmed for the site and we are still putting together our submission to the draft Unitary Plan due in February 2014.

"As we have previously said, we hope to help provide housing options in the North Shore area, whether that is through diverse housing, a retirement village or other means.

"When we are in a position to discuss those options with the community we will do that," Mr Hutchison said.

Wakakura

*North Shore housing site.
*4.2ha vacant waterfront land block.
*Corner Lake Rd/Ngataringa Rd/Wakakura Cres.
*Site between Devonport and Belmont.
*Ex-Royal New Zealand Navy land.
*Ngati Whatua paid $10m for it.
*Initial geotechnic investigations started.

- NZ Herald

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