Opposition Stiffens to Canal Housing Project
For release 9 May 2006
Opposition Stiffens to Canal Housing Project
Critics of a proposed canal-based housing project near Clevedon, south-east of Auckland, say that opposition to the development is hardening as the deadline for submissions draws near.
The Wairoa River Maritime Village would see 297 homes built in close proximity to each other on man-made canals near the river's estuary.
A Proposed Plan Change, by Manukau City Council, would alter the zoning of the area concerned from 'Rural 1' to a specially created zone. This would facilitate the development and lessen restrictions placed on it by the Resource Management Act. Submissions on this issue close on Wednesday 24th May.
"Increasing numbers of local people are letting us know they support our campaign," says Mary Whitehouse, spokesperson for the 'Clevedon CARES' organisation, set up to fight the Plan Change.
"We're encouraged by the fact that 160 of the 315 submissions already submitted to Manukau City Council are opposed to the development. Of those opposed, 125 come from the Clevedon area, many of them being detailed and well-informed.
"It's also been heartening to learn that a wide range of significant organisations have lodged submissions opposing the Plan Change, including the Auckland Regional Council and Watercare Services Limited.
"Although the deadline is getting closer, it's not too late to make submissions supporting our stance against the Plan Change," she says, adding that information on how to make a submission can be found on Clevedon CARES' newly launched website.
Mary Whitehouse also suggests that opponents of the canal development add their names to Clevedon CARES' online petition. This too can be found on the organisation's website: www.clevedoncares.co.nz
"It's essential that we defeat this Plan Change, not least because intensive housing of the type proposed has no real place in a rural area such as ours. Moreover, the addition of nearly 300 extra households will effectively double our local population, putting a huge strain on schools, shopping, health and other facilities and infrastructure.
"The Proposed Plan Change is for a residential development only. But a wide range of businesses and services would need to be established to serve the new community. Inevitably, many of these would be situated in Clevedon itself or in the neighbouring countryside, irrevocably destroying the special character of the area. At the same time, the Plan Change could lower the legal barriers to other forms of unwanted development," she says.
Mary Whitehouse describes Clevedon as a uniquely charming village and as an important part of New Zealand's heritage.
"There are hardly any other old settlements around Auckland that have such a cohesive and defined village atmosphere. Unlike the proposed canal development, Clevedon is a true village that has grown gradually and is the natural centre of the local rural community. It would be tragic if it lost its special character," she says.
Other concerns cited by Clevedon CARES involve water take and sewage management and the large-scale dredging and sediment disposal required by the project. A further concern is for the native bird species, which feed off shellfish beds in the river estuary.
In addition, there are fears over increasing traffic flows on North Road, which runs through Clevedon and provides the only vehicle access to the proposed development. North Road has already been the scene of a number of fatal accidents and plans to upgrade a small section of the road do not address these fears adequately.
"There are not just local issues at stake here. As the ARC's submission points out, the Plan Change is contrary to the Strategic Direction of the Auckland Regional Policy Statement and the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement, as it would not concentrate development in areas where the natural character has already been compromised.
"Ultimately the Manukau City Council has to decide whether it truly wants to push aside policies aimed at restricting the spread of Auckland into country areas, with all that means in terms of traffic congestion, environmental damage and suburban sprawl. We hope Council will choose wisely.
"We are not against all new developments in the Clevedon area. But they need to be of an appropriate type and scale. And, as preconditions, we need a council plan for the area and sufficient infra-structure to cope with more people. We have neither of these at the moment," Mary Whitehouse adds.