Auckland Council's decision to notify Bayswater Marina's $300 million development plans during alert level 3 has been decried but the developer's barrister says now is the right time.
Paul Glass, chairman of the Bayswater Berth Holders' Association, said he strongly objected to the timing of the notification which was issued yesterday and which the Herald reported on yesterday.
People wouldn't be able to properly respond to plans for the project because the city remained under alert level 3, Glass said.
"The council's behaviour is craven. Allowing it to be notified under this alert level is wrong and they should have waited until level 2 at the least. People will find it very difficult to have a say because we can't get any community groups together.
But Kitt Littlejohn, Bayswater Marina Holdings' barrister, told the council there were "no reasonable grounds" to extend the notification period.
Glass said: "People who might want to make a submission are unable to meet advisers in person. We're not allowed to go down onto the site as a group. If you want to see physical copies of what is proposed, they are being kept at libraries in Takapuna and Devonport as well as Auckland Council.
"Those are all closed. We said to the council there's no way it should be notified under alert level 3. But the council got a legal opinion from the developer saying it should be notified."
The association and Bayswater Community Group wanted submissions open for at least 40 days as well, he said.
Glass objected to it being open for only 20 days until November 9.
"That's an insufficient period of time when we're in normal circumstances for a development of this size. But under Covid alert level 3, it's insane."
The association will object to the plans as they stand, he said.
"We're not anti-development or anti-residential development. But we want to see respect given to the fact that the principal purpose is an operating marina and a boat ramp for public space."
Glass said local democracy needed to work and that wasn't the case with the Bayswater application.
"The applicant has had all this time in the world but being given only 20 working days in the middle of a level 3 lockdown isn't right."
Berth holders have 310 car parks and should have the same once work is completed "but it's where the car parks are located and some are inside the apartment projects", Glass said.
Littlejohn defended notification now.
The application was lodged on March 1 after which the council requested further information, which delayed notification till now, he said.
Submitters had told the council that the Covid lockdown meant special circumstances which ought to lead the council to extend the notification timeframe, Littlejohn noted.
But there were no reasonable grounds to extend the notification period, he said. The application was not large or complex. It only involved one parcel of land and did not span multiple sites or involve numerous parties, Littlejohn told the council.
The claim that the lockdown had impeded the submitters' ability to analyse the application because they could not access the site could not be taken seriously, he said.
Brady Nixon on behalf of the developer said in response to the Glass complaint: "The development we have prepared fully complies with the Unitary Plan provisions and we are certain that the community will investigate and find that it is exemplar and of a very high quality.
"We acknowledge the influence of Auckland Council staff and Councillor Chris Darby who have clearly directed how they see a project in this location moving forward and so we are excited about the contribution it will make to Auckland and Bayswater," Nixon said.
Darby said yesterday genuine community engagement was being sought from the developer.
Ian Smallburn, general manager resource consents, said the application was notified yesterday.
"The submission period for this application is 20 working days, as this is the standard period provided for under the Resource Management Act.
"We acknowledge that Covid-19 lockdowns do restrict submitters ability to access hard copies of material at our service centres. We are facilitating an accessible submission period by offering to courier notification documents to submitters. Submitters can request a hard copy by emailing the council at firstname.lastname@example.org," he said.
Submissions can also be made through the Auckland Council Have Your Say web portal as usual, or via post or email, Smallburn said today.