This week’s story is about one person who lives on a street in Ostend not liking the look of a new residence being built on the same street. Now this new building has the necessary resource consents demanded by New Zealand’s very exacting Resource Management Act (RMA) and Auckland Council’s Hauraki Gulf Islands District Plan (HGIDP) - a plan determined after years of expensive consultation with the people of Waiheke. And as anyone who has built here recently will know, it will have cost the land owner a substantial amount of money to satisfy Council planners and building inspectors, before they even put a spade in the ground. Despite this, and despite not even living within view of the new building, it is this one person’s opinion that the house doesn’t fit the ‘character’ of the street.
This house is someone’s dream. As for ‘character’, these days, the prevailing residential character in Ostend and in large parts of Waiheke could probably best be described as ‘eclectic’. So, who cares what the complainant thinks? She’s entitled to her opinion of course, but frankly it is of no particular interest to anyone. The RMA and the HGIDP state the planning rules up front and the land owner has the right to work with them or around them, anything to get the necessary consent. Once they have that consent then they are entitled to build whatever development has been approved. Waiheke Marketplace displays a total lack of journalistic responsibility and has no word from the owner themselves. In other words it’s at best a media beat up, at worst, small town bullying.
A similar story featuring serial, vexatious complainant, Greenie, Susi Newborn was run in the Gulf (Green Party) News last year. Newborn didn’t like the look of a house being built at the end of the street she lives in, despite it not being anywhere near her own property and in no way affecting her view. She also didn’t like the owner or her parents, yet this non-story found its way into the news. That the landowner had the necessary consents should have been reason enough to cut this story off at the pass. Who cares what Newborn thinks?
Then we have the horrendous case of media bullying orchestrated by some neighbours and some of the current members of the Waiheke Local Board, including Chair Paul Walden, against a resident building a house on their own land at Wharetana Bay – again, with all the necessary consents. By a concerted campaign of intimidation, they literally hounded the would-be resident off the island.
For years, Waiheke local media has resisted Council’s attempts to educate residents about what the RMA and HGIDP permit and what they don’t. What you can expect to happen on residential, commercial and industrial land and what you can’t. When you can have your say and when you can’t. Why – because rarking up the locals and printing stories about someone not liking the look of someone else’s house is much more fun. It reeks of the politics of envy.
Talking of planning matters, Green activists and the media, it’s interesting that those who so love to hound others have all chosen to remain silent on the biggest threat to the character of the island in decades. I refer of course to the bid by the Walden Family to rid the island if its Green Belt so they can make an 80 house sub-division on their land in Onetangi (see blog How Green Is My Valley).
Many houses and buildings don’t meet my personal view of what I consider tasteful or in ‘character’, but I defend the right of the owner to build the home of their choice on their own land.