Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Unitary plan “destroying” Struan Place

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Residents say Struan Place is one of the smallest streets in Highland Park and Howick and cannot sustain the size of the developments allowed under the Auckland Unitary Plan. Times photo.

The residents of Struan Place are protesting a possible housing development which will leave their small street over-crowded.

Residents have already had to contend with an overbearing development in the street and don’t want to see any further demolition or building.

The street’s homeowners have had to watch the sale of 2 Struan Place which has since had the original home knocked down and developed into two three-storey terraced houses, which is allowed by the Auckland Unitary Plan’s mixed housing urban zone.

The development has taken a significant toll on the neighbourhood with the two new houses blocking the neighbours’ street view and sunlight and invading their privacy, residents say.

There have also been concerns over unsafe building practices, noise and overcrowding.

When 3 Struan Place was purchased by another developer, with the intention to develop the land into three-level high density housing, frustration boiled over.

Maree Harman, a long-time Struan place resident, says they are feeling hopeless after the owners of the property next door to 3 Struan Place felt pressured to sell their property to the same developer.

When the sale goes unconditional on July 31 this year, the developer will own the neighbouring properties 3 and 5 Struan Place, she says.

“What we have heard is that the he plans to build up to six three-storey terraced houses here or sell the land to somebody else who will and our street just isn’t big enough,” Harman says.

She says if the development goes ahead it will bring the total number of three-storey terraced houses to eight.

Two three storey terraced houses have been built at the bottom of Struan Place blocking sunlight to the neighbouring property. Residents are poresting the development of more multi-storey terraced houses on Struan Place. Times photo.

The two properties have already been listed with Ray White Flat Bush, which advertised it as potential building development, she says.

“Potential to propose 3 level high density housing, similar construction project has already started on the same street,” the listing states.

The street only has 10 plots of land, all of which either have only one house on it or a house and a small granny flat.

“We have one of, if not the smallest street in Howick. I just don’t think if somebody from council who was signing off on these consents visited our street would reasonably be able to say our street can sustain such large developments,” she says.

“I have raised my family here and now our small close-knit street community is being taken over by these huge houses that will block our sunlight, invade our privacy and add to the already overcrowded street.”

An existing Struan Place home next to the two three storey developments at 2 Struan Place. Times photo.

Harman says she is concerned about fire and emergency services being able to access the street when needed, especially while the construction is ongoing, the increased risk of fire spreading and how water and waste will be managed.

Harman is not alone in her concerns and had more than 15 neighbours join her earlier this month to meet Councillor Sharon Stewart and local MP Simeon Brown.

Brown says the main concerns raised included contractors blocking the streets, creating noise throughout the week, and the environmental impact caused by the size of the development.

“I understand their concerns about the impact this large development will have on their small residential cul-de-sac, which is unfortunately allowed under the Unitary Plan,” he says.

Brown says he is working with Stewart to ensure residents maintain access to their homes, and ensure that the building consent conditions are being complied with on the construction site to minimise the impact on the neighbourhood and surrounding environment.

Harman and other residents on the street have raised the matter with council numerous times and are asking for consent not to be given to any more three-level high density housing development proposals on the street.

“Ideally we want [council] to revisit the unitary plan and realise that a mixed housing zone should not be applied to streets as small as Struan Place.”

Auckland Council resource consents manager Ian Smallburn said that despite having received a number of emails from residents and Simeon Brown about the development in Struan Place, they have not yet received any applications for 3 or 5 Struan Place.

Smallburn says all consent proposals are assessed in accordance with the relevant zone requirements of the land, which in this case would be ‘Mixed Housing Urban’.

“In the case of a resource consent application, a comprehensive assessment of a proposal within the subject site/s is made, including how the proposal interacts with the street,” he says.

Smallburn says a site visit is usually undertaken and all the concerns raised by the residents of Struan Place are considered when granting resource consent.

He says under the Unitary Plan requirements the street is wide enough for both council services and emergency services to access the street, and all proposals are assessed for the provision of services and how they manage stormwater.

There are also strict yard requirements to meet to safeguard properties from fire spreading.

And while the building of taller houses will mean less access to sunlight and privacy, this “has to be countered against the need to use land more efficiently and provide a lot more houses within the Auckland urban limits,” he says.

Smallburn says the Auckland Unitary Plan (AUP) requires less parking per dwelling which serves the council’s long-term strategy for encouraging the use of public transport.

Harman says she and the resident of Struan Place will continue to fight to stop the development of anymore multi-storey high density housing

on the street.

“This is our home and we want it to stay that way. We won’t let them destroy our street,” she says.

The Times has attempted to locate and speak to the owner of 3 and 5 Struan Place.


Struan Place a Mixed Housing Urban Zone

Under the Auckland unitary plan, Struan places falls in a mixed housing urban zone.

The Residential – Mixed Housing Urban Zone is described in the Auckland Unitary plan as a reasonably high-intensity zone enabling a greater intensity of development than previously provided for.

“Over time, the appearance of neighbourhoods within this zone will change, with development typically up to three storeys in a variety of sizes and forms, including detached dwellings, terrace housing and low-rise apartments,” the Unitary Plan states.

“This supports increasing the capacity and choice of housing within neighbourhoods as well as promoting walkable neighbourhoods, fostering a sense of community and increasing the vitality of centres.”


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