Seventy apartments for Sandspit Road

Design illustration of the proposed apartment buildings for Sandspit Road.

Tensions are high on Sandspit Road with the looming threat of a large-scale apartment building development opposite Howick College.

A proposed redevelopment of 30 and 40 Sandspit Road, commonly known as the old Steward Motors site, will have an apartment building with approximately 70 apartments, a swimming pool, and a cafe open to the public.

On Monday evening the Cockle Bay Resident’s and Ratepayers Association gathered with around 20 concerned community members to discuss the proposal.

The development makes a sham of the Unitary Plan, says Cockle Bay residents and Ratepayers Association chairperson Laurie Slee.

“They are doing this with very limited notification, thus restricting possible objections.”

Slee says the site is currently zoned Single House Zone which means it allows for a single house on a section no smaller than 600m² according to The Auckland Unitary Plan.

A criterion for the zoning is that it is to “maintain and enhance the amenity value (that is, the quality of the present environment) of established residential areas”, he says.

“The zoning therefore permits some nine houses.  This complies with the zone description, which states that mutli-unit developments are not anticipated.  In contrast, the developer wishes to construct no less than 70 apartments on an area of only 5417m²,” he says.

“This is despite the very debatable use by the developer of the “Integrated Residential Development” (IRD) definition.

“This definition was originally intended for only two small locations in Auckland, and that the key objectives of the classification were around retirement villages and supported residential care.”

Slee says that because the development will include a swimming pool, a BBQ and possibly a café, the developer claims it should be permitted.

An aerial view of the proposed site on 30 and 40 Sandspit Road and 2 and 4 Reydon Place.

“The application could, therefore, be something of a “Trojan horse” that impacts all of Auckland.  Any developer can aggregate sites (as this developer already has) and seek approval,” he says.

Local residents have many grounds for objections, Slee says, including traffic congestion, safety for school children from Howick College and Cockle Bay Primary, storm water issues and loss of amenity value.

He says they also have concerns over compliance with the resource management act, non-compliance with height restrictions and the extensive earthworks threatening downstream watercourses and siltation of local beaches.

“Our local Residents and Ratepayers Association seriously questions whether the application complies with the intent of the IRD,” he says.

“We call on our elected Councillors and all Local Board members to consider whether the current notification processes are equitable; what should be done to encourage wider notification and to reflect on parallels with the High Court decision questioning Council processes on the helipad in Herne Bay.”

Auckland Council says a decision will not be made on the application until all required steps in the consent process are complete.

The applicant and submitters will have the opportunity to put forward their case to independent commissioners at a hearing, who will then make the final decision.