Letter to the Editor - Alarm over sub-division
We represent TIKA Incorporated, a Society which has been formed by a diverse group of local design professionals interested generally in having broad ranging and constructive input in ongoing development in the Kaipara Region – but in this instance to comment on the ongoing degradation of the existing character of the Mangawhai Village township and surrounds through badly planned development.
We are concerned and alarmed at the current application under the RMA to subdivide the last significant tract of harbour frontage in the village, 40 Pearson St, which bounds the estuary between Pearson St and Dune View Drive. The site of 4.5ha is proposed to be subdivided into 48 titles, averaging around 680sqm with some as small as 500sqm per site. An overlay map of the surrounding development shows this density is significantly greater than the surrounding lot sizes and far in excess of that allowed under the District Plan.
Pearson St, as it is now, is the last remnant of the old Mangawhai Village in character, casual, with wide verges and shared roadway between vehicles and pedestrians. This proposal to nearly double the use of this street at a stroke will
radically change the atmosphere and use of this part of the Village, and is in flagrant violation of the overlay zone density of between 750sqm and 1000sqm.
Additionally, as KDC seem to have accepted the negative affects as ‘less than minor’ (despite the radical departure from what is expected under the District Plan) a very limited number of people in the area have been deemed as Affected Persons having the right to make submissions in support of or to oppose the proposal. This is wrong. All of Mangawhai Village will be affected, and the Council could be challenged in their acceptance of this request by the developer.
Council documents show their own staff and Independent Consultant Planners have recommended that the proposal be turned down, primarily due to the mismatch of the proposed density with the existing grain of development, and reveal they find the reasoning behind the need to reduce the provisions of the District Plan unconvincing. Given this robust defense of their planning guidelines by Council staff, should we still be concerned at the outcome at the hearing of this proposal under independent commissioners?
Recent history in the development of the Village shows that nothing can be taken for granted. While much effort has gone into community consultation over the past few years, with Council staging meetings with the locals here to glean what they can of the aspirations of Mangawhai folk, nothing much of what was enthusiastically communicated about our vision – community linkage through pedestrian and cycle networks, better harbour access and recreation space, design that respects existing character and built densities, even a plea to actually act on these information-gathering exercises – seems to have been translated into an inspiring template for “Magical Mangawhai”.
Despite the 2005 structure plan actively discouraging grid section development, and promoting cycle and pedestrian links in the wider Mangawhai area, and restated in the November 2013 District Plan, any casual inspection of the current subdivisions underway or planned will reveal little of these stipulations. This application cites ‘Precedent’ as a mitigating factor, yet it in itself will set a dangerous precedent for all of Kaipara.
It is strange that Council have talented planners who are part of building a vision for sustainable development in the area, and yet, time and again, the vision that is held out is bargained down to nothing, for being too hard and, more ominously, under the threat of legal action by the large new players in land development riding the wave of one of the fastest growing regions in New Zealand.
The haphazard and casual implementation of any environmental protection points to the problems of an absentee administration, with a primary concern for rating results to support the wider regions infrastructure. Why else could Mangawhai until recently have no outstanding natural features listed in our District Plan, no areas worthy of protection? Perhaps that is why our beautiful Heads beach is now becoming festooned with holiday houses for the elites, again
with no-one in the then Council thinking this issue needed any notification or discussion?
Our group absolutely supports the planning staff at Kaipara District Council in their efforts to keep the “magic” in Mangawhai and the Kaipara. We call on senior management and the new Council to also do so, and to resist the incursion of a development culture that seems to have money as its highest value. The application as it stands must be refused.
If we accept this as the new template, despite all the work and resources the community puts in through our District Plan, we could be sliding into an updated slogan: Kaipara - where nothing seems to matter.
Malcolm Halley, Colin Campbell, Florian Primbs, Dave Launder, Isobel Gabites, Ulla Bode, Christian Simon, Rik Schijf for
“We are concerned and alarmed at the current application under the RMA to subdivide the last significant tract of harbour frontage in the village… into 48 titles, averaging around 680sqm with some as small as 500sqm per site.”