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Council Accused Of One-Sided Approach

Clevedon CARES 16 May 2006

Council Accused Of One-Sided Approach

Manukau City Council has been accused of a one-sided approach by opponents of a canal-based housing project proposed for near Clevedon, to the south-east of Auckland.

"The MCC seems to have crossed the line from neutrality to active support for the Plan Change needed to facilitate the project," says Mary Whitehouse, spokesperson for Clevedon CARES, an organisation of local residents opposed to the change.

"We are concerned about the MCC's stance, both because Council is meant to take an even-handed approach and because the canal development is a thoroughly bad idea," she says, pointing to opposition to the scheme from the Auckland Regional Council and Watercare Services Limited, as well as from local people.

The development, known as the Wairoa River Maritime Village, would involve 297 homes being built in close proximity to each other on man-made canals near the river's estuary. The Plan Change involves rezoning land to cope with the requirements of the Resource Management Act. Public submissions on the proposed change close on Wednesday 24th May.

"At a meeting of the Clevedon Community Board on Monday 8th May, Manukau City Council CEO, Leigh Auton confirmed that Council had agreed with the project's developers to meet half of the cost of the Plan Change. This is not the level of neutrality we would expect from a publicly-funded territorial authority," says Mary Whitehouse.

"A further pointer to the MCC's commitment to the Plan Change was the recent notification of an upgrade to two stretches of North Road adjacent to the proposed development's site. Whilst it is possible to make a general case for upgrading the road, it makes no sense to do so solely in those areas, unless Council is determined to see the Plan Change go ahead.

"Similarly, we've been astonished to discover that selected local residents have received an invitation from the real estate company, Bayleys, to attend a presentation on 'Where Clevedon is going from the Manukau City Council's point of view', to be delivered by MCC Senior Planner, Brigitte de Ronde.

"All local residents, and not just a chosen few, should have the right to attend Ms.de Ronde's presentation. Moreover, the meeting should have been organised, as a matter of priority, by the MCC and not by a commercial organisation which could conceivably benefit from the development," she says.

Mary Whitehouse describes the Manukau City Council's apparent bias in favour of the proposed change as of potentially nationwide significance.

"The Plan Change would encourage the spread of urban-style housing developments and associated businesses and services into the countryside, in defiance of the ARC's policy of limiting Auckland's growth. This could set a precedent for circumventing regional planning policies anywhere in New Zealand.

"Intensive housing of the type proposed would be completely out of place in a rural area such as ours. The canal development would more than double our local population, placing a huge strain on infrastructure and destroying Clevedon's unique village-style atmosphere. In addition, large-scale dredging of the river and sediment disposal would be required, probably on a recurrent basis.

"If you put these factors together, the Maritime Village seems to be a very silly idea, making it all the more deplorable if the MCC is indeed seeking to push the project through," Mary Whitehouse adds.

"We can defeat this plan if sufficient people from Clevedon and beyond demonstrate their concern by making a submission to Council or by adding their names to our online petition. It is barely conceivable that Council would proceed in the face of widespread local opposition," she says.

Clevedon CARES' online petition can be found at www.clevedoncares.co.nz. The website also contains a guide to making submissions.

Ends

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