No go on Soho Square

Auckland City Harbour News - - Front Page - By Jo­ce­lyn Rein

THE con­tro­ver­sial Soho Square de­vel­op­ment has been de­nied re­source con­sent, bring­ing re­lief for Pon­sonby res­i­dents.

Con­sent was re­fused be­cause of ad­verse ef­fects, in­clud­ing shad­ing, dom­i­nance and loss of amenity, on bor­der­ing prop­er­ties in Crum­mer Rd and Maid­stone St.

The ap­pli­ca­tion by de­vel­op­ers Mar­lin Group al­most dou­bled height and floor space lim­its un­der the district plan.

Crum­mer Rd res­i­dent Ken John­son says the com­mis­sion­ers got it right.

“I think the ac­tions of al­most a thou­sand peo­ple in this com­mu­nity need to be con­grat­u­lated.”

Grey Lynn res­i­dent Amanda Rees moved from Crum­mer Rd ear­lier this year be­cause of con­cerns about Soho and also sub­mit­ted against it at the hear­ing.“

I’m re­ally rapt that it hasn’t made it through.”

But she’s dis­ap­pointed Mar­lin Group plans to ap­peal against the de­ci­sion.

“It’s a shame that they can’t just build ac­cord­ing to what the district plan al­lows,” she says.

“They should be think­ing about what a com­mu­nity needs.”

Mar­lin Group said yes­ter­day it has lodged an ap­peal with the En­vi­ron­ment Court.

Project man­ager Paul Hud­son says they have taken en­cour­age­ment in some of the com­mis­sion­ers’ com­ments.

Com­mis­sion­ers said three of the five build­ings in the pro­posal were “not an is­sue” but sug­gested a re­duc­tion in the size of two oth­ers.

Mr Hud­son says Mar­lin will un­der­take a de­sign re­view be­fore an ap­peal hear­ing.

The group al­ready has re­source con­sent for a smaller de­vel­op­ment on the old DYC Vine­gar Fac­tory site, which com­plies with the 15-me­tre height re­stric­tion.

Ex­ca­va­tion work for un­der­ground carpark­ing has been com­pleted.

West­ern Bays coun­cil­lor Graeme Easte says he’s pleased with the com­mis­sion­ers’ de­ci­sion, but dis­ap­pointed Mar­lin is go­ing straight to an ap­peal.

In his sub­mis­sion, Mr Easte urged the de­vel­op­ers to en­gage with the com­mu­nity on a re­think of the whole de­vel­op­ment in­stead.

He says not every­one in Pon­sonby will agree on a vi­sion for the site, but there needs to be more con­sul­ta­tion.

“They’ve come at us and told us what they plan to do. That’s not con­sult­ing,” he says.

Mr Easte says a small group of sub­mit­ters would be meet­ing soon to dis­cuss pro­ceed­ing against the ap­peal.

Traf­fic and her­itage con­cerns were the main is­sues of con­tention for sub­mit­ters at the hear­ing, but com­mis­sion­ers found they were not sig­nif­i­cant fac­tors.

They said the three his­toric build­ings nearby, Pon­sonby Rd’s Al­len­dale House, home to the ASB Com­mu­nity Trust, the for­mer Pon­sonby fire sta­tion on Wil­liamson Ave and Lord Pon­sonby’s An­tique’s build­ing, would not be sig­nif­i­cantly af­fected.

ASB Com­mu­nity Trust chief ex­ec­u­tive Jenny Gill dis­agrees, say­ing the im­pact would have been se­vere.

“If you al­low build­ings that are out of scale with the neigh­bour­hood you de­stroy the his­toric na­ture of that.”

She is de­lighted at the de­ci­sion and says the trust will par­tic­i­pate in the up­com­ing ap­peal.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

No go: Amanda Rees says she is rapt an ap­pli­ca­tion for the Soho Square de­vel­op­ment has been turned down.

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