No common ground over Mount Maunganui development

Keryn Taylor and David and Carol Adams looking out at the Commons Ave development site. Photo: John Borren.

Mount Maunganui residents are battling a proposed apartment building that will rise above existing the area’s height restrictions of nine metres. It will be 10.4m tall.

They say it will impact their daylight, privacy and comfort and set a precedent for the area.

And they could be right with councillor Steve Morris saying the Tauranga City Council is currently reviewing the Tauranga City Plan, which means height restrictions and boundary setbacks could change in the future.

“It will take a couple of years. It’s a huge document which outlines all the rules for development in the city,” he says.

The group is appealing the Commons Ave decision of independent hearings commissioner David Hill to grant resource consent to the developers TYBI Limited. It is now before the Environment Court.

The proposed three-level residential building on 3 Commons Ave includes four apartments and ten on-site parking spaces.

Each three-bedroom apartment is priced from $2,890,000.

It exceeds rules around height and shadowing, and how close the building should be set back from neighbouring properties.

The appeal states the bulk and scale of the building design through not complying with the height restriction, overshadowing envelope and boundary setbacks will result in an imposing and intimidating 10.4m high wall from boundary to boundary.

 Mount Maunganui resident Keryn Taylor lives directly behind 3 Commons Avenue.

 She says the development will result in loss of morning sun, lack of privacy and bring about leaks and dampness in her home.

 “The apartment is being built right up against our house. We are going to lose so much sunlight.

“I’m really worried about the damp it is going to cause on my walls. If the property is only 1.1m away, I am not going to get any airflow.

“We are in a high-density area, I expect there are going to be buildings here, but I expect them to be built within the criteria that the council lays out.”

Nearby property owner Geoff Laurent is concerned the development sets a new standard for buildings in the area.

 “With the approval of this block being built on Commons Ave, there’s a new standard that these rules don’t apply anymore.

“This abandonment of building rules will be the new normal for all developments within the Commons to Adams Ave area of the Mount.”

The appeal states other buildings along Commons Avenue and the Mall have generally complied with the overshadowing envelope, boundary setbacks and height restrictions.

“This application compromises the openness and social amenity of the neighbourhood and will set a precedent for further non-compliance.”

The Weekend Sun asked the council if developers will now be allowed to build structures that exceed the nine-meter height restriction in downtown Mount Maunganui. 

The council’s regulatory and compliance manager Barbara Dempsey says they are unable to comment on the development as the application is subject to a live appeal in the Environment Court.

TYBI Limited consultants Boffa Miskell also declined to comment on the matter for the same reason. It says mediation with those opposed is scheduled for mid-October.

 Neville Hunt lives next door to the proposed development, and he says the entire process has caused immense stress for him and his wife.

 “My wife and I are both retired, and we have felt hung out to dry in this situation and not listened to at all.

 “Our house is going to be completely overshadowed by the development – we are going to get about one-and-a-half hours of extra overshadowing each day. Alongside that, we will experience a loss of view line and loss of privacy.”

Both Neville and Keryn feel as though they have received little support from TCC throughout the process.

“I do not feel as though the council has sought to protect or serve their community at all, instead prioritising a continued drive for over-cramming properties in the heart of Mount Maunganui,” Keryn says in a letter to the council.

“While I recognise that the proposal is largely in line with the Tauranga Urban Strategy, I believe that the wellbeing of existing residents should be prioritized over providing greater residential accommodation.”

Cr Morris has suggested to council senior management residents need an advocate within the planning system.

“If there’s somebody behind an ethical wall in council that’s able to come alongside residents, guide them through the process and explain to them what their rights are that would be really beneficial.

“Other than some general information our residents don’t have an advocate who is able to help them, and that’s probably quite unfair.”

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