Plans for a "European hilltop village" overlooking the Waitematā Harbour have residents fuming about a possible loophole allowing apartment blocks to be built in streets zoned for single houses.
Sino Dutch Developments Ltd is making a fresh application to Auckland Council to build 10 apartments in a four-storey block at Tizard Rd above the Birkenhead ferry terminal and yacht club.
After battling company directors Gerard Reuters and Guang Yong Chen's first plans last year, local residents are gearing up to oppose revised plans on a long-vacant section with million-dollar harbour views.
SAVE THE POINT group maintains the apartment block developers are attempting to get around a loophole in the Auckland Unitary Plan intended to allow retirement villages to be built in the Single House Zone.
The group believes the development could set a precedent for apartment blocks in the zone, which was put in place to "maintain and enhance" traditional leafy suburbs and covers 20 per cent of the city's urban area.
Last year, local Richard Bourke told the Herald "if this goes through, all bets are off because almost anything at all can go through".
Geordie Lindsay-Russell, who grew up in Tizard Rd, said the group was not anti-development or Nimbys, but whatever was built had to be done within the rules put there for a reason.
He was also disappointed a number of pōhutukawa trees on the site had died after being poisoned, the potential loss of further bush cover if the development went ahead and the impact on views from Chelsea Point, Herne Bay and the harbour bridge.
"I love nature and bush and how green it is. This flies in the face of New Zealand's clean, green image," Lindsay-Russell said.
Geordie's father, Nigel Russell, said everything was wrong about the development, from the scale of the project to having to remove about 2000 truckloads of soil down the very narrow cul de sac where a rubbish truck got stuck this month.
On the Birkenhead and Northcote Facebook page, there are mixed views on the development, including an accusation of "Pure NIMBYism" levelled at the opponents.
"We need more houses," said one person. Said another local: "Be a great spot if they can mitigate the issues though wouldn't it."
Brian Putt, the planner for Sino Dutch Developments, said: "The design concept is like a European hilltop village built around a central courtyard. It's very classy."
He said the residents were being unfair on the developer who was simply following the rules in the Unitary Plan which allowed for an "integrated residential development" on sites greater than 2000sq m in the Single House Zone.
This was included in the zone at the request of the Retirement Village Association and generally applied to residential developments as long as they had community facilities, he said.
In the case of Tizard Rd, he said, the apartment block was a single building with a swimming pool, gym and community meeting room.
"It is not a loophole," Putt said.
He emphasised the developer had nothing to do with the poisoning of the pōhutukawa trees, saying they had been built into the design for the project.
The case is heading back to a second hearing after the first was adjourned in December last year for two key reasons.
The hearing commissioners accepted the view of the council the plans were non-complying because more than one dwelling per site is the most restrictive activity in the zone and must prevail.
The commissioners also took into account the view of a landscape architect that the height, scale and bulk of the development would affect the character and views from the harbour.
In its latest application, the developers said they continued to disagree the application is non-complying and seeked to address the character and visual landscape issues.
"The new proposal will achieve a better design outcome at the same time as providing additional housing to accommodate Auckland's expanding population," the application said.
A council spokeswoman said the latest application was lodged last month and was being processed before a decision was made on whether it would be publicly notified.