Jami-Lee’s column: Protecting Sandspit Road

I applaud the continued resilience of locals fighting the Sandspit Road development proposals.

More than 70 apartments, sitting between three schools on an already congested road, is wholly inappropriate.

It is nothing short of reckless disregard for existing homeowners, hundreds of children trying to get to school safely, and thousands of downstream homes that suffer from antiquated sewer and stormwater infrastructure.

This fight brings back memories of our shared community action over the years.

It was in that same spirit when I was on the city council that I led the charge to buy back into public ownership the Old Library Building in Howick. Our move saved that site from seeing high rise apartments.

Sandspit Road is the newest location which sees a push for large scale apartment building.

If our local board and councillors wanted to do right by Cockle Bay, they would similarly front up with funds to purchase the Steward Motors site.

Public support would be wide for a community or educational facility to jointly serve the three neighbouring schools. We could also save locals from the heartache of what otherwise would take form there.

Another threat to local rights sits in Parliament in the form of the Urban Development Bill. It has its origins in National Party policy that’s now being implemented by the Labour-led Government.

This Bill allows big brother in Wellington to swoop in, designate areas as “Specified Development Projects”, take over planning and consenting, and remove most rights of appeal along the way.

Once in place, these powers would see hard fought for local wins eroded by Wellington bureaucrats designing intensified developments in desirable existing suburbs.

Imagine a scenario where local heroes like Janet Dickson or Matthew Brajkovich successfully fend of development at Stockade Hill or Sandspit Road, only to have a government agency take over a few years down the track and develop anyway.

The Urban Development Bill takes away local decision making and would see Wellington’s intensified development agenda imposes on small communities. It’s a bill I intend to vote against in Parliament. Other local MPs should do the same.

Jami-Lee Ross is an independent MP for Botany