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Small Sections Approved in Beachlands

Saturday 11 October 2014, 9:45AM

By Garth Dawson

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AUCKLAND

Sections sizes of between 400 & 500 sq m have recently been approved in the Spinnaker Bay subdivision by the Auckland Council Independent Hearing Commissioners. These sizes are nearly half the size of the current minimum size designated for coastal communities relying on tank water for their water supply..

This decision over turns the previous accepted minimum section size of 700 sq m for this area. A size that was a compromise between greater urbanisation and retaining the look and feel of the area. Once that managed the resource responsibly and took into account the impact on the greater environment.  A compromise was made to have smaller sections and high rise developemtns in the Pine Harbour Marina area. The developers argued that the marina was a separate area from Beachlands and therefore should not be constrained by the same rules as Beachlands Developments.

Now we are seeing that, with this decision, that Spinnaker Bay is not part of Beachlands either.... Interestingly, Kiapara Holdings are behind both developments.

It is some of the comments by the Commissioners that are of interest. One of their statements being that "the area could no longer be called semi-rural", even though the trip into Botany or Manukau takes you through rural farmland and past forestry. They also go on to say "that the will develop in the future as a urban residential community".

The local Community Association (PCCA) released a policy document about 7 years ago. This document was developed in consultation with the communities of Beachlands and Maraetai. A number of community workshops were held to identify and clarify the viewed of the community about how they saw their community and the priorities that should be focused on for future developments. The final document was voted on and given their seal of approval.

One of the key themes that is talked about in the policy document is that the communities of Beachlands and Maraetai are Coastal/Rural. That is that they have developed on the coastal fringes of Auckland and are separated from the major urban areas by large swathes of rural land. In fact it is a 20 minute drive to the urban areas of Howick, Botany, East Tamaki and Manukau. It also goes on to talk about the feel of the area - the out of town feel.

Talk to any number of the residents of the area today and they still echo these sentiments. This is what has attracted them to the area. It's charm and character. Part of this charm and character is the openness abound the homes. The view shafts to the Tamaki Straight and across to Waiheke or back to Howick and Auckland City. It is also that the area has a very strong community feel and character.

Questions arise from the comments made by the Commissioners.

Has the decision already been made by developers and the Council on what Beachlands and Maraetai will look like, regardless of the Councils statements to the local Community that little will change?

Hvae they already decided how long will the urbanisation of the Whitford, Beachlands, Maraetai areas will take?

Have they already made their minds up about other proposed developments in the area? Have they already doomed an idyllic coastal area to be like all other parts of Auckland - just a place to sleep at night and then spend the weekend at the shopping mall?

One gets a sense that the desires of the Beachlands and Maraetai communities to retain their vision for the area that developments are sensitive to the area, are being ignored. That developments will go ahead that are built on similar patterns to others in the region. That the developments are dictated by developers and their paid puppets of expert urban designers.

And that the Commissioners readily accept this view, and that no real alternatives to the "me too" developments are allowed to exist and that communities do care about what is done to them and how their communities grow and are affected by developments.

Where do communities visions for themselves get taken on board and adopted with gusto and reverence rather than looked at and commented on with scorn by the developers and maybe the Councils?