Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Cockle Bay dispute: Sandspit Rd development fight continues

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An on-going dispute between the developer of a proposed controversial residential development in Cockle Bay has again reared its head.

The developer has submitted a new consent application for a scaled-down version of 54 units – as opposed to 71 in an earlier submission – to be erected on the old Steward Motors site on Sandspit Road.

The land is zoned for nine single houses. A consent application was refused by council in 2019 who ruled traffic and environmental concerns were too prevalent to grant consent, leading to an appeal to the Environment Court by the developer.

In a deputation at a recent Howick Local Board meeting, Laurie Slee, chair of the Cockle Bay Residents and Ratepayers Association (CBRRA), relayed the groups’ continuing opposition to the proposed development, which would neighbour two schools.

Slee addressed a new consent application the developer David Jans of Box Property Investments, has recently lodged for an Integrated Residential Development (IRD) on the site.  “With 54 units included in the design, it is 17 units smaller in scale but still hugely in excess of the nine houses permitted under the zoning,” said Slee.

“The application was rejected by Independent Hearings Commissioners as a non-compliant application.  The developer then took the application to the Environment Court, naming Auckland Council as the respondents.  Cockle Bay Residents and Ratepayers Association, Howick Ratepayers and Residents Association and a group from Reydon Place all joined the Environment Court action as Section 274 respondents.

“The developer has requested that the application be referred directly to the Environment Court rather than following the usual notification processes.  Our preliminary reading of the very many documents accompanying the application suggests that it is still non-compliant and nor does it address the concerns regarding infrastructure capacity.”

National candidate for Botany Christopher Luxon also expressed his concern in a Facebook video post at the possibility of high-density housing being approved. He positioned himself outside the former Steward Motors and voiced his objection.

“Auckland City Council designated this area as a single dwelling zone which means, in theory, it could be developed with up to nine houses only on it yet developers are wanting to turn it into high-density housing and place a 54 resident dwelling at this location,” said Luxon.

“This can’t happen. There are better locations for high-density dwellings that have the appropriate infrastructure in place to support them. Anyone that lives in the surrounding area will feel the effects on their stormwater, roading, traffic and general infrastructure that needs to be managed.

“We can’t have multi-unit dwellings and not have the support infrastructure in place to support it. We have got to think more strategically about infrastructure in [not only] Botany but across Auckland.”

Concerned locals opposite the old Steward Motors site where development has been stymied. Photo Wayne Martin/Times

The developer disputes the views of the CBRRA.

Jans told the Times the IRDs are “discretionary activity within the zone along with activities such as retirement villages, boarding houses, visitor accommodation and service stations”.

When asked about an apparent failure to adhere to the consent notification process, Jans said, “This is not correct, the consent application will be notified.”

Jans also disputes Slee’s assertion that the application is non-compliant, saying he would “refer Mr Slee to section 7 of the report from (planning consultant) Mt Hobson Group”.

Jans also offered his retort to the BBRRA claims of a lack of infrastructure capacity by saying “Watercare and Auckland Council have reported on infrastructure, there is an area where a section of waste water line may need to be upgraded. Our city’s infrastructure has had to cope with an average increase of Auckland’s population by 110,000 people annually. Howick and Cockle Bay’s infrastructure is young in comparison to many other parts of Auckland.”

The upgrade to the line has significant costs involved which Jans says Box Property will have to wear. “Over and above this cost (likely to be $500,000) we will be required to pay Watercare $880,000 in infrastructure growth charges,” said Jans.

“In the event that the Environment Court do approve our resource consent application, then maybe Mr Slee should speak to Watercare to ensure they spend this money within the catchment it is derived from.”

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