Unitec plan upsets

Central Leader - - FRONT PAGE - By JENNY LING

FRUS­TRATED res­i­dents are ral­ly­ing against Unitec’s pro­posal to re­zone some of its land for re­de­vel­op­ment.

Mt Al­bert home­own­ers in sur­round­ing streets say they have been ‘‘left in the dark’’ over plans to re­zone 53.5 hectares to al­low a mix of res­i­den­tial, commercial and recre­ational uses ( Cen­tral Leader, June 20).

About 150 people turned up to a meet­ing at the Mt Al­bert Bowl­ing Club on Mon­day.

Mt Al­bert Res­i­dents As­so­ci­a­tion co-chair Fran­cis Mor­timer says there is ‘‘quite a lot of anger’’.

‘‘Unitec has ob­vi­ously been work­ing on their plan for some time . . . there was never any talk of the ex­tent of the pro­posed plans.’’

The sub­mis­sion was lodged un­der the Auck­land Coun­cil’s draft uni­tary plan in Fe­bru­ary.

Ideas in­clude medium den­sity hous­ing and the con­ver­sion of his­toric Vic­to­rian brick build­ings into apart­ments.

There are 177 build­ings spread across the for­mer 64.5ha Car­ring­ton Psy­chi­atric Hospi­tal site. Unitec plans to con­sol­i­date its cam­pus on 10ha at the south­ern end. Karen Burge, a Mt Al­bert res­i­dent who is head­ing the South End Res­i­dents Group, says in­creased traf­fic, hous­ing up to 24.5 me­tres high, and the loss of green space are among some of the con­cerns.

Turn­ing quiet cul-de-sacs into through-roads at Mark Rd, Rhodes Ave, Renton Rd and Lau­rel St would ‘‘fun­da­men­tally change the char­ac­ter of the neigh­bour­hood’’, Burge says.

‘‘Ev­ery­body lives here be­cause it’s in­cred­i­bly quiet, we don’t get through-traf­fic.

‘‘The people in the com­mu­nity ac­cept there will be a level of de­vel­op­ment on the Unitec site in the fu­ture.

‘‘Our con­cern is that while there may be ben­e­fits to the com­mu­nity, we don’t feel that ad­e­quate con­sul­ta­tion has taken place.

‘‘People need to have the chance to have more of an in­put be­cause the im­pacts on our com­mu­nity are po­ten­tially go­ing to be enor­mous.’’

Some res­i­dents only found out about the plans in mid June through the me­dia, Burge says.

That gave them one month to have their say on the 176-page doc­u­ment be­fore the July 22 dead­line.

Fur­ther meet­ings to help res­i­dents make sub­mis­sions will be held on July 15, from 7pm to 9pm, and July 19, from 9am 4.30pm, at the Metro Soc­cer Club at Phyl­lis Re­serve.

‘‘People are very con­cerned,’’ Burge says. ‘‘They feel they’ve been kept in the dark.’’

Res­i­dent Noelene O’Keefe, has lived in her Mt Al­bert home for 51 years. ‘‘It’s in­evitable that hous­ing will go there,’’ she says.

‘‘But it’s go­ing to af­fect a lot of people.’’

Mt Al­bert MP David Shearer is also ‘‘dis­ap­pointed’’ at the lack of con­sul­ta­tion.

Is­sues of through-roads, green space and high den­sity hous­ing are ‘‘be­ing qui­etly swept aside in des­per­a­tion to get this through to max­i­mum ben­e­fit to Unitec’’.

‘‘They’re look­ing very much in­ter­nally at them­selves with­out look­ing at the com­mu­nity.’’

Unitec chief ex­ec­u­tive Rick Ede says a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion process is now un­der way and will one day in­clude a hear­ings panel.

‘‘While there is a rel­a­tively short time for sub­mis­sions . . . we ex­pect that there will be on­go­ing dis­cus­sions.

‘‘Our aim is to get a de­vel­op­ment that makes Mt Al­bert, Pt Chev and Unitec a bet­ter place for Auck­land.’’

Plan­ning prob­lems: Mt Al­bert neigh­bours Karen Burge, left, and Noelene O’Keefe say res­i­dents have been kept in the dark over Unitec’s re­de­vel­op­ment plans.

Fu­ture look: An artist’s im­pres­sion of how Unitec might look in fu­ture.

Rick Ede

Fran­cis Mor­timer

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