The Tasman Ave view of Housing NZ’s proposed development at 90 Carrington Rd.
Rose Dowsett challenges Housing NZ to stop pushing the rules on one of its Mt Albert developments… and become a good neighbour.
OPINION: What rights do we have when Housing New Zealand decides to shoehorn a development into a site that just isn’t big enough for it to fit and comply with planning rules?
The answer, sadly, seems to be no rights at all.
Just one local example is the proposed HNZC development at 90 Carrington Rd and 3-5 Tasman Ave.
The corporation has submitted a proposal to Auckland Council for resource consent to replace an existing duplex containing two single-bedroom units and a two-bedroom house, with two, three-storey apartment blocks containing a total of 18 one-bedroom units.
The council has created new planning rules for increased density under the Unitary Plan and, as a large landowner in Auckland, the corporation reportedly pushed during the process to squeeze in more units per square metre. They got what they wanted – and now they need to stop pushing for more.
This is not about nimbyism (“not in my back yard”); I happen to live across the road from this development and Housing NZ and its tenants are part of this neighbourhood. Rather, it’s about complying with the new rules.
The corporation needs to be called out for their use of non-notified, resource consent submissions where they continue to push the already increased density “boundaries”.
Put yourself in the shoes of the single-storey home neighbour whose north boundary (their sunny side) is on the boundary of the proposed three-storey development.
The new rules contain a height-to-boundary requirement that offers some reassurance that winter sun can still get through.
However, HNZ is opting for an alternative height–to-boundary consent that is highly concessionary and, therefore, should only be acceptable if the affected neighbour is consulted – and if it’s the only non-complying rule.
In this case the corporation’s scheme is also non-compliant with rules dealing with landscape, outdoor living space, daylight and front yard rules.
What this shows is that HNZ is attempting to shoehorn a development into a site that just isn’t big enough for it to fit and comply.
If the corporation is not held to account by council planners (which I still hope will be the case) or by the public, this type of “push until you get push back” approach will become their normal way of operating. If that happens, any neighbour’s north boundary is at risk.
Separate to this planning approach, the corporation needs to up their game in the treatment of existing tenants.
In this particular case consideration must be given to a tenant of 31 years who may be forced to re-settle (he has already been given three months’ notice).
If this development goes ahead in some form or other, an HNZ representative, with the power to act and with the tenant’s welfare in mind, needs to have a face-to-face meeting with the tenant to provide reassurance that like-for-like accommodation within the same community is there for him if that’s what he wants.
So, Housing New Zealand – how about communicating, consulting and becoming good neighbours?