Development’s opponents vow to fight on

Local residents Sel Pratt, left, and Laurie Slee say they’re determined to keep fighting against a proposed apartment development in Sandspit Road, Cockle Bay. Times photo Chris Harrowell

Two of the opponents of a proposed east Auckland apartment development say they’re as determined as ever to stop it from going ahead.

Box Property Ltd initially planned to build 71 apartments with 113 parking spaces on the former Steward Motors site in Sandspit Road and Reydon Place.

The land is over the road from Howick College and Cockle Bay School and is in Auckland Council’s ‘single house zone’.

Box Property says the project is an ‘integrated residential development’ (IRD), but its opponents disagree.

The council denied the initial resource consent application in 2019, saying traffic and environmental concerns were too prevalent.

Box Property has since downsized its plans to a proposed 54 units with 84 parking spaces.

It’s appealed the declined consent application to the Environment Court.

The company’s efforts have faced outspoken resistance from numerous locals including the Cockle Bay Residents and Ratepayers Association, chaired by Laurie Slee, and Sel Pratt, who lives in Reydon Place.

Slee disagrees the proposal complies with the definition of an IRD, which tend to be rest and retirement homes, he says.

“We are [also] very concerned about the environmental impacts.

“The site is contaminated with asbestos and petroleum products.

“There’s a whole series of environmental issues, which were touched on by Forest and Bird in their submission.

“We’re very concerned with school safety and the traffic.”

Pratt says the ongoing battle over the development has led to multiple people in his street moving because they’ve “had a gut’s full”.

“They just got away from it. Four households have gone and I’m next.

“I will leave but I’m committed to fight on. [One couple] said, ‘the minute you go on the market, we’re going on the market’.

“At no time at any of these discussions has anyone in the street said it [the development] will affect our properties. We are not nimbys and never will be.”

Box Property director David Jans says Auckland has a “significant” housing shortage as a result of its population growing by 100,000 new residents each year.

It’s “inequitable” for people to expect because they live in an area with positive features such as coastal views and beaches they’re “exempt from sharing the inconvenience and extra strain on infrastructure and traffic that this increasing population has resulted in”, he says.

“I can understand why many of the local residents are upset.

“They don’t want the disruption and inconvenience of the construction phase and they don’t want to have more traffic to contend with.”

Jans says he believes the proposed development will significantly improve the site.

Once it’s completed, its opponents will be “pleasantly surprised” at how it blends in with its surroundings, he says.

He believes concerns expressed by residents relating to traffic are unfounded.

“The traffic issue goes away during the school holidays and re-emerges during school terms when parents drive their children to and from school.”

Jans says it’s frustrating to receive so much criticism but “it comes with the territory”.

“We do get positive feedback from sectors of the community which I am unable to disclose as they feel they could be conflicted in supporting a project given the extent of exposure it has received as a result of well-coordinated opposition.”