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Ouch! Forrest Hill feels the squeeze

Flagstaff Team

Growing pains… A three-storey block of seven terrace houses is being built on one site next to Max Whitehead’s Forrest Hill house, with another 12 units coming on the other side. He says his single- storey home of nearly 20 years will soon be “in a tunnel”. He sounds a warning for others.

”This could happen to you folks as well” – that’s Max Whitehead’s warning to other North Shore residents.

His single-storey family home in Forrest Hill is being sandwiched between fast-rising three-storey developments.

To one side of his house, seven terrace house units are being built. On the other side, he recently learned, 12 more are planned.

Whitehead says the home on William Souter St he has lived in for nearly 20 years will lose morning sun. “I bought my home because it faced north, it’s going to be in a tunnel soon.”

When the Observer visited, the road, which runs off East Coast Rd, was coned off just around the corner from his house to allow for yet more building. A real estate agent has told him another 12-unit development is going up on a large section a few doors along. A few more houses down, another home is on a large section is being sold.

“The parking in the street is already impossible,” Whitehead said. Instead of having two people next door it was likely there would be at least 14 on one side and more again on the other property.

“It’s all the utilities, all the parking, waste, traffic… it’s going to cause significant pressure.”

He worries Auckland Council is not taking the looming pressure on infrastructure seriously enough and that the public, unless directly affected, is apathetic.

Whitehead took his concerns that quiet suburbs were being changed dramatically to the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board’s community forum last month.

The employment-law consultant, who works from home, said he wanted to emphasise to elected members why he thinks they should speak out on proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (AUP) changes, which will make intensification even easier than that he already sees happening.

“When we’re going to see six-storey buildings going up, it’s going to get worse.”

Board member George Wood, whose home is further down the same Forrest Hill valley, said he could face this greater intensification, given the area was now zoned for terrace housing and apartment building.

He pointed to $2 million-plus prices being paid by developers for land in Sunnynook. Member Jan O’Connor said the new housing legislation would exacerbate this.

Board chair Ruth Jackson said intensification was already obvious in Auckland, but the looming changes were “pushing it over the top”.

Whitehead won’t face six-storeys on his street, but he told the Observer he thinks many people don’t realise how many homes can already be built next to them. In his area, to be zoned for three three-storey houses as of right, it’s clearly not that hard to get many more dwellings approved.

On the need for more housing, Whitehead pointed to the nearby Pupuke Golf Course. He loves his morning walks across its near-empty fairways, but says: “Thousands of people could live there and we’ve got five golf courses on the North Shore”

Spoiling leafy streets where people already live happily does not add up, he said. He points out his once quiet area is not elite and has not in the past attracted huge prices, but it does have the appeal of the double Westlake zoning and good connections. “It’s a nice comfortable suburb.”

Sections near his have sold for $2.5m and $2.46m. He too has thought of selling, but along with partner Maree Saunders and their 21-year- old daughter, Paris, it’s been their loved family home – until now.

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