Changes in store
DEVELOPERS the Marlin Group say they will address community concerns over a lack of retail space at Soho Square.
In closing arguments on the final day of resource consent hearings on Monday, lawyer Russell Bartlett said his client has already extended retail space and could add more.
The decision to grant resource consent for the $250 million project now lies with commissioners.
The proposal for five buildings and 52 residential apartments totals 47,738 square metres and in places reaches more than 31 metres high, double the 15-metre height limit.
Mr Bartlett urged the panel not to ask for a further redesign as he saw “little need for it”.
Retail space has increased from 499 square metres to 4380 square metres – including 1880 square metres of cafe space.
Mr Bartlett called the new version “much improved”.
“I think it ties things up in a very satisfactory manner.”
He also said the rooftop dome structure, proposed for Williamson Ave, could be reduced if the commissioners thought it necessary.
In his right of reply Mr Bartlett addressed significant submissions made during the hearing, held over the past three weeks.
Of the 863 submissions received, 809 have opposed the development. Grey Lynn and Ponsonby residents yesterday made their final pleas for the development to be turned down.
Maree Quinn questioned what the proposal had to offer the community, saying the huge bulk of office space was “built to squeeze the profit out of the last square inch”.
Dr Ruth Watson, who lives within 500 metres of the development, agreed a lack of retail space could turn it into “another danger zone or graffiti site”.
“Access to businesses is hardly an attractive community gift,” she said.
Speaking about the proposed ground level “Soho Street” walkway running through the development, she said: “I hardly ever seek out walkways between offices when I’m in public space.”
Hopetoun St resident Patricia Reade said the dark alleyways and corners would become a hangout for pimps, prostitutes and drug dealers at night.
Other submitters expressed concern about the impact on traffic in surrounding streets.
Auckland city councillor Graeme Easte made a personal submission, calling the proposal “over paid, over sexed and over here”.
He encouraged Marlin Group not to go to the Environment Court if the resource consent is declined but rather to “seek some genuine community input” to achieve a good outcome.
When asked by commissioner Karyn Sinclair what a good outcome would be, he said something “considerably smaller”.
“At the moment it turns its back on Ponsonby Rd,” he said.
In response to Mr Easte, Mr Bartlett said there was never going to be neighbourhood consensus on the proposal.
“The idea that after this meeting we’re going to sit around singing Kumbaya and talking about it – forget it.”
Mr Bartlett also dismissed any idea of reducing the height of the Soho development saying it was not only unnecessary but would have “profoundly negative” effects.
Ponsonby’s future? An artist’s impression of the proposed Soho Square development.