Residents want some light shed on development
Ponsonby residents are accusing the Auckland City Council of keeping them in the dark over a new multilevel building.
The development, to be built at 34 Douglas St, is made up of office and residential units valued at $2.2 million.
Work began on the 266 square metre site to obtain permits in 2007 with consent granted for the sixlevel building in May this year.
Because of the area’s mixed use zoning, the council ruled there was nothing unusual or exceptional about the proposal to warrant notification – but locals disagree.
“Our neighbourhood is to have a large, privacy destroying, light blocking, traffic increasing, ugly concrete building inflicted on it and the council deems us not affected,” says Jane Fromont.
She says the first clue that a 15-metre-high building was going up next door was in June.
“I noticed work being done on the original villa that was there and at first thought they were re-piling it. But then it got cut in half and taken away,” she says.
The Douglas St resident, who has metastatic breast cancer, purchased her Summit Building apartment two years ago.
She says the reality of becoming house-bound next to a building which will block her sunlight has been difficult.
“I’m managing to stay alive and mobile and unbeaten, but I’m deeply saddened that someone can steal my light and sell it,” she says.
“I just wanted somewhere nice to live for the last years of my life, and looking out the window is one of life’s free and underrated pleasures.”
A lack of parking and reverse manoeuvring on to the local road is also addressed in the council report as being “generally acceptable”.
However chairman of Summit Building’s body corporation Philip Hull is unconvinced.
“Douglas St is better termed an alley than a street. Frequently it’s totally impassable, necessitating dangerous reversals,” he says.
“If the council’s concerned about pedestrian fatalities on Ponsonby Rd why is it simultaneously encouraging dangerous driving practices by overcrowding one of Ponsonby’s most congested alleys?”
Western Bays Community Board chairman Bruce Kilmister says residents unhappy with the decision can lobby the council.
“For significant construction of a complete building that could seriously impact on them, I’m amazed that they haven’t been notified about what’s going on, even as a basic courtesy,” he says.
“When fiscal return dictates aesthetic values, it impacts on the value of all the surrounding properties.”
Stephenson and Turner architect Ross Brown is one of four trustees who own 34 Douglas St and wouldn’t comment on the development, other than to say the council’s planning regulations are effective.
Council’s manager for resource consents Ian Smallburn says issues such as amenity, streetscape and privacy effects are all considered to determine whether an application requires notification.
He says the only way to seek recourse over the decision made would be through a High Court judicial review.
Non-notified: From left: Philip Hull, Jane Fromont and Bruce Kilmister want to know how the council’s planning rules can consider them unaffected by a large nearby development.