1493251866853 - Residents enlist expert help in fight against development of Okura

Residents enlist expert help in fight against development of Okura

Residents of a coastal village, where a developer has plans to build more than 750 houses, are preparing to do battle in court in order to protect the “wilderness feel” of the area.

Todd Property wants to subdivide 150 hectares of land in Okura, a suburb on Auckland’s North Shore bordering an estuarine marine reserve and regional park.

The developer’s plans were stymied last August when Auckland Council’s Governing Body quashed the Unitary Plan Independent Hearing Panel’s recommendation to extend the rural-urban boundary to allow the development.

But the developer is appealing the decision to the Environment Court on the basis of Auckland’s need for housing, inclusion of public land and the protection of the marine environment.

* Unitary Plan decision stops development of Okura estuary on Auckland’s North Shore
* Developer prepares to fight for 750-plus houses next to marine reserve
* Residents of Auckland’s Okura concerned about sediment running off from building sites into marine reserve

Long Bay-Okura Great Park Society member Pete Townend said ​the society was working with a lawyer and had specialists who disagreed with Todd Property’s specialists.

Townend said the development would increase congestion and the chance of marine pollution.

The society was concerned at the possible effects development would have on the marine reserve and Townend said they had evidence from experts negating claims development could occur without affecting the reserve.

“The public is not blind to the mess that is seen coming out of the streams around this coast,” he said.

Todd Property managing director Evan Davies told the North Shore Times in late March the development would extend the existing Long Bay Regional Park by 55 hectares but Townend says that would come at a cost.

“The cost of these benefits will be the destruction of the wilderness feel that currently awaits visitors … the walkers on the Okura Bush walkway and northern regional park, and boaties on the Okura Estuary will all lose forever, the wilderness feel of the area,” Townend said.

“It’s just bizarre we can get so many people to say no to these guys and yet they keep on coming back over and over and over.”

Davies said Todd Property’s proposal would be a better outcome than the alternative,which he said was a gated community with no public access anywhere

“How we have a great park society campaigning so determinedly to not make their park greater, I find quite confusing, and we want to ensure the alternative perspective is available to those who are interested,” he said.

But Townend disagreed.

“How can you possibly think putting 1000 houses on farmland is good for the environment?”

The parties were expected to go through a mediation process later in the year, before appearing before the Environment Court. A court date had not yet been set.

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