Mission Bay homeowners, including All Blacks great Sir John Kirwan, are fighting back against the height of a $200m housing and retail redevelopment planned for the beloved beachfront Auckland suburb.
Submissions on the proposal are open after longtime developers Urban Partners, founded as Retail Holdings by brothers Haydn and Mark Staples in 1983, applied for Auckland Council resource consent to demolish buildings on a 6527sq m block between Tāmaki Dr, Patteson Ave and Marau Crescent.
Up to 100 apartments and townhouses, a hospitality and retail space, carparks, and a cinema multi-plex will go up in their place.
The application includes photo montages from various locations and angles showing the visual impacts of the proposed development, including on four multi-million dollar Ronaki Rd and Marau Cres properties, one of which has a rating valuation of $8.4m.
Two images captured using a topographical model and council property files showed the mansion's views of the Hauraki Gulf would be significantly affected by the development, which will span seven buildings of varying heights up to a maximum of 28.2m - or seven storeys and a mezzanine - at the corner of Tāmaki Dr and Patteson Ave.
The affected mansion's owner didn't want to comment, but neighbour Don Stock, whose view is also impacted, said while he was pro development of the "really cruddy" commercial block, the proposal was too bulky and high.
Stock, who submitted against the Unitary Plan - the blueprint for how Auckland will meet its future economic and housing needs, and which opened the door to more intensive mixed-use development in smaller centres such as Mission Bay - said he accepted he would lose his view.
But development shouldn't be higher than the horizon.
"I'd like to see a development that is in keeping with the scale of the buildings here."
A council spokeswoman said the proposed development is zoned Business – Local Centre in the Unitary Plan, which allows buildings up to 16m high, plus a 2m allowance for the roof.
"Anything over this height triggers the need for a resource consent."
Rules relating to height are about scale, sunlight and privacy, she said.
"There are no planning rules that protect anyone's view from their home. The only views that have protection in Auckland are views of the maunga from certain public viewpoints."
The Mission Bay proposal had been assessed as a discretionary activity and therefore required resource consent. As recommended by council, and at the request of the applicant, the proposal has been publicly notified.
This allowed the community to have their view considered in the decision-making process.
Stock, who bought his home seven years ago and didn't plan to sell, said he feared if Urban Partners was successful in building to 28.2m there could be a ripple effect.
"It would create a precedent that could be applied anywhere in Auckland."
Luxury residential real estate agents didn't expect major impacts on values of homes where views were affected.
Graham Wall said the project would give more than it took.
"Everyone will be rubbing their hands with glee when it's finished."
Michael Boulgaris said prices would be affected, but it wouldn't make much difference.
"As that level I don't think it's really relevant, because there will always be buyers for a beautiful, VIP street address, on a cliff top, in good company."
Meanwhile, Stock also believed camera lenses and angles used for the visual impact photo montages were misleading, making the buildings appear smaller than they would be, and that Urban Partners 28.2m proposal was a negotiating tool to win support for an eventual maximum height of perhaps 22m.
The chairman of the 400-member Mission Bay Kohimarama Residents Association, Stock has organised a public meeting on the development at 7pm on October 3 at the Selwyn College Theatre.
Both he and the association would submit against the existing proposal before submissions close on October 10.
Stock's neighbour Rod Moore said he supported the development and liked the design - except its height.
"Like everyone, it's the height. Why is it so high?"
Kirwan, who lives near Stock but whose views are not affected, also backed the development, but wanted the height limited to three storeys.
"I don't want Mission Bay ending up like the Gold Coast."
Mission Bay development project director Doug Osborne told the Herald the heights specified in the Unitary Plan were "thresholds for more focused analysis, not limits that must not be exceeded".
The project ranged in height from 11m on Marau Crescent to the 28.2m maximum on the Patteson Ave/Tamaki Dr corner only.
"A considerable part of the development is under height in consideration of locals and their views."
Visual renders and montages were done at the council's request, independently and met requirements, Osborne said.
Much thought and attention had been given to the focal point for Mission Bay's local centre, and the visual renders and montages showed residents what the buildings would look like.
Independent experts had also been consulted in the application, including Auckland Council's urban design panel.
"All agree this iconic location supports a proud gateway to a vibrant town centre and provides a visual focus to Mission Bay."
The most recent recommendation from the urban design panel, included in consent application documents, stated the panel supported the project subject to fundamental changes.
This included issues with the overall architectural character and context - the architectural expression needed to be stronger to justify the increased height proposed, particularly on the Patteson Ave/Tāmaki Dr corner, according to the document.
"The panel believes in this case that additional height needs to be earned by exemplary design."
Osborne said they had received hundreds of messages of support for the change, which would also future-proof Mission Bay and align it with wider Auckland development.
"We have seen consensus that change is desperately needed for Mission Bay and the unitary plan now allows for the upgrade that the iconic location supports."