Fight starts to protect views

By: Marianne Kelly

Out-of-scope changes which have the potential to block iconic view shafts from Stockade Hill and Crawford Park, Howick, have been left in the Auckland Unitary Plan (AUP) to be publicly notified tomorrow.

MOCK-UPS: These photos are conservatively based on the proportions of existing housing roofs around the base of Stockade Hill. The Auckland Unitary Plan allows at least one-two more storeys plus a minimum of one more metre for a roof line. These mock-ups, based on the roofs currently there, show what Howick stands to lose. Photos supplied/Howick Residents and Ratepayers Association.

But the Howick Residents and Ratepayers Association (HRRA), armed with more than 1000 petition signatures, is hoping to appeal this part of the AUP.

The HRRA petition to protect the views reached 1180 signatures, “showing just how passionate people in Howick are about preserving our stunning views”, HRRA chair Gayleen Mackereth says.

“We constantly lobbied our councillors to protect these views through the [council] debate last week,” she says.

The association asked the council to rezone the area encircling Crawford Reserve and opposite Stockade Hill to SH (single housing) in keeping with the adjacent and surrounding Cockle Bay SH zone (formerly the Cockle Bay heritage zone).

“No action was taken which is very disappointing,” she says.

“So we will be looking at the final plan when it is revealed on Friday and make the decision to appeal this part of the plan, dependent on funding.

“We are only a voluntary organisation relying on subscriptions to fund our work unless a lawyer steps forth to assist us.”

The plan change HRRA is opposing was among unasked for, belated, ‘out of scope changes’ which were reversed by Auckland Council in February after a public outcry.

But the plan change involving three to three-and-a-half storey apartment blocks on the north side of the Howick centre was surprisingly reinstated and included in the Independent Hearing Panel’s recommendations.

“The impact on the area around Stockade Hill is catastrophic,” Mrs Mackereth says.

“For the sake of developing these 80-odd sections the iconic and unique views will be lost forever.”

The existing Stockade Hill view shaft is very limited, she says, and has no clear reference to height or width “so cannot protect us from the smart developer building row upon row of three-four 13 metre high apartments”.

“Even one higher apartment sticking up in the middle of this view would spoil the impression of the whole.

“On the original AUP maps there is only one narrow view shaft aimed at the sea and not at the wider view – that magnificent vista of the Hauraki Gulf – as you crest the hill into Howick.

“Nor is there a view shaft protecting the views of Rangitoto and Browns Island and further around the Gulf from Stockade Hill,” Mrs Mackereth says.

Many residents, she says, have pointed out that the Crawford Reserve site was bought and the park designed by Manukau City Council to protect these views for posterity.

“It must not be allowed to be encircled by rows of apartments of 13 metres high, effectively blocking the views.

“People understand how incongruous 400 apartment buildings opposite historic Stockade Hill will be, how they will cut off our views and be totally out of place.”

HRRA intends to approach the Mayoral hopefuls to ask if they will support a plan change if elected, as well as asking the Howick Local Board members and Howick Ward councillors, Dick Quax and Sharon Stewart, on what they will do to support the campaign.

Mrs Mackereth says it’s a pity nothing was done in response to the association’s petition during the council’s deliberations last week. But Mr Quax has given an assurance, for next time.

He says: “You and your organisation have our assurance that, if we [Mr Quax and Mrs Stewart] are re-elected, we will move to have a plan change introduced to remove the zoning on the seaward side of the Howick village. This would give the community the opportunity to have a say which has been denied to them up to now.”

The AUP will be publically notified tomorrow (Friday August 19) followed by a statutory 20 working day period for limited appeals closing on September 16.