Res­i­dents want some light shed on de­vel­op­ment

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Carly Tawhiao

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.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

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.

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