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Housing squeeze shocks residents

Flagstaff Team

Feeling the squeeze… Dafydd Richards is among residents dismayed at the Lake Rd development

The intensification of housing in the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board continues apace, with proposals for one of the more extreme examples leaving neighbours reeling.

“It’s heartbreaking,” says one resident, shocked at the plan to build 48 units on two back sections of Lake Rd, Belmont, in the block opposite Takapuna Grammar.

The case magnifies many of the frustrations residents feel about how developers can change the character of established residential neighbourhoods under Auckland Council’s Unitary Plan. The impact is being felt across the board area, with single homes often replaced by multiple units, some three storeys high.

Sunnynook, Forrest Hill, Milford, Takapuna and Hauraki are among areas where larger sections are being snapped up for new builds that in many cases do not require notification to neighbours.

Dozens more multi-home resource consents were lodged with Auckland Council for the local board area from October to January. Examples for the last two months include – Takapuna: 11 dwellings at 3 Campbell Rd, seven dwellings at 5 Burns Ave, and five at 16 Killarney Ave; Milford: four at 26 Wolsey St; Forrest Hill: three each at 12 Tiber Rd and at 31 Linwood Ave; Sunnynook: four at 11 Regency Pl, and five at 12 Sequoia Pl. October and November were even busier.

Demand for housing is driving the new builds, and controlled intensification to cater for population growth was always the aim of the Unitary Plan, but residents are increasingly expressing concerns that what is being built by some developers goes beyond what was envisaged.

The Unitary Plan allows two dwellings to be built as of right on sections in the mixed housing suburban and mixed housing urban zones, with a resource consent application needed to bump up this number. The suburban zone is capped at two-storey builds with the urban zone allowing for three-storey townhouses.

But developers citing “less than minor” impacts for variations on the plan can push the rules around matters such as distance from boundaries, site coverage and parking.

The large-scale Belmont development is a resubmission of an application that was withdrawn last year after planners indicated changes were needed. It retains the same 48 dwellings, to be built in five, three-storey blocks, with one-bedroom units starting at 43sq m. Traffic from the 4903sq m block of land at 209 and 211 Lake Rd will share a driveway with neighbours concerned about safety and congestion. The council’s senior planner for resource consents found “nothing exceptional or unusual” about the proposal to warrant public notification.

A limited notification was recommended so 20 neighbours could make submissions. An independent hearing panel will make a decision in due course.

This article originally appeared in the 5 March 2021 edition of the Rangitoto Observer.

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