March 2017 Newsletter

  • Water quality in St Mary’s Bay 
  • Big plans for Auckland Harbour Bridge Park
  • Proposed ‘over height’ development: 99 College Hill-18 Dublin Street
  • Daily parking coupons for 20 St Mary’s Bay businesses

Dear member,

A warm welcome to the first 2017 newsletter of  the St Mary’s Bay Association.

As those who attended the AGM in November heard, we had a busy 2016, spread over a wide range of activities.  The executive thought that 2017 might be a little quieter, but judging by our first meeting earlier this month, that may be wishful thinking.

A major issue at the moment is the water quality in St Mary’s Bay. We’re also involved in ideas for the establishment of a Harbour Bridge Park and we’re keeping a watching brief on a large development planned between College Hill and Dublin St. You can read more about these topics in this newsletter, as well as Auckland Transport’s plan to allow limited business parking in St Mary’s Bay.

Next newsletter we hope to be able to report on a bid to improve tree planting along St Mary’s Rd, an upgrade of Pt Erin, and of course other regulars such as the urban cycleway, SkyPath and a second harbour crossing remain on the agenda.

Water pollution in St Mary’s Bay 

The water quality in St Mary’s Bay, Westhaven and other western bays has been an issue for the SMBA for many years.  The primary concern stems from unplanned discharges of sewage, usually in periods of high rainfall, leading to sewage being mixed with stormwater in the ageing combined wastewater drainage system. However, that concern is now compounded by Auckland Council’s desire for inner city intensification and the consequent strain on already inadequate sewerage and stormwater infrastructure.

In January 2016 a very high bacteria reading was recorded near one of the outfalls in St Mary’s Bay, at a time when there had been no, or no significant, rainfall for some three weeks.  In our view this demonstrated that the problem was the aging and failing infrastructure rather than just mixing of waste and storm water.

We wrote to Watercare seeking prompt solutions.  We were probably one of several voices.  Watercare responded by setting up a working group comprising itself, Auckland Council, Panuku Development Auckland and Auckland Transport to investigate water quality in St Mary’s Bay/Westhaven.  That group has come up with several proposals, some short term and some medium term, to improve water quality pending a major project to install major new infrastructure – the Central Interceptor – to collect sewage from the Western Bays for transmission to the Mangere treatment plant. Costs are estimated at more than $1 billion. The start date has been deferred to 2019 and the project is expected to take 10 years to complete. However, the Central Interceptor is only part of the solution – the old clay pipes may need to be replaced as well.

You will have received a flyer in your letterbox in January outlining these proposals.  SMBA was told last year that it would be consulted as a stakeholder.  We intend to pursue that.

Auckland Waitemata and Gulf ward councillor Mike Lee is lobbying hard for Auckland Council to address this expensive problem, which he says has been swept under the carpet for too long. Read his summary of the situation on his website

A similar article appears in his column in the March 2017 issue of the Ponsonby News.

You may also have read the series of articles published in the NZ Herald (links below) in January 2017 about the drainage infrastructure issues affecting water quality around Auckland generally – although mainly in the central and Western Bays areas.  It is a big problem, and requiring a big spend on renewal of infrastructure to fix it.

Our concern is that the cost will either lead to truncated remedial options or will cause it to be delayed.  Our view is that this must be done right and soon.  We are working with our local city councillor, Mike Lee, and with our neighbours in the Western Bays, to understand the proposals and press for early and effective remedies.  We will report on this as the year goes on.

Big plans for Auckland Harbour Bridge Park

Panuku Development Auckland is shortly commencing design of a walking and cycling route from Curran Street in Herne Bay through to Harbour Bridge Park and Westhaven Drive.

‘Harbour Bridge Park’ is a key waterfront area that is so far undeveloped. It is bordered by Curran Street and the Northern Motorway with an additional triangular shaped green area to the eastern side of the motorway on ramp. It is used and relied on by a number of groups including AJ Hackett’s bridge climb and bungy operations.

A St Mary’s Bay Association committee representative recently attended a Panuku Development Auckland workshop aimed at exploring options for an overall vision for the area in the short, medium and long term. The area has a number of constraints including multiple ownership, NZTA’s maintenance requirements and significant in-ground infrastructure.

Panuku Development Auckland, through urban designers Landlab, are to summarise the workshop suggestions which will then be circulated for further discussion.

If you have any bright ideas for how this park should look or what activities it could be used for, do forward them to the SMBA committee via

Proposed ‘over height’ development:  99 College Hill-18 Dublin Street

Mansons TCLM have applied for a resource consent under the Special Housing Area legislation to redevelop a site towards the top of College Hill that runs through to Dublin Street.  The 2364 sqm site presently contains a two-level residential building originally developed as a motel, but which now contains 28 apartments.  The proposal is to construct 49 apartments, 32 within two four-storey buildings on the College Hill frontage and 17 apartments on the Dublin Street frontage

The site has a curious mix of zonings – “mixed use” zoning near the College Hill frontage and “single house” zoning leading to Dublin Street.  The latter is a low-density zone which, were it not for “existing use” rights, could only be developed with three dwellings as of right.

The four-storey proposal on the College Hill site does not comply with maximum height limit specified in the Unitary Plan at 13 metres (11 metres + 2 metres for roofspace).  It is totally out of scale with the existing development in upper College Hill.  No building in this sector of College Hill is more than three storeys, and most, including the historic Post Office and the other buildings at the main Three Lamps intersection, are two storeys.

In the simplest of terms, the bulk of this proposed development will dominate its surroundings and alter the character of this part of College Hill.  In SMBA’s view the height of the two buildings nearest to College Hill should be limited to that of the surrounding buildings. Similarly, the proposed three-level structure on the Dublin Street frontage, with a height of up to 10.4 metres, does not comply with the height limit in the single house zone of eight metres.

Moreover, the addition of a  third floor to the existing building and the expansion of the building footprint results in a site coverage of 58%, much greater than the permitted site coverage for the single house zone of 25%, resulting in far greater bulk than the existing building on the site (which is already well above the permitted density in the single house zone).

The effect of the additional floor is that the proposed Dublin Street building is totally out of character with the existing scale and grain of development in Dublin Street, which is mainly small single level or two-storey villas on sites of 300sqm-350sqm.  It will dominate the adjoining properties and affect their privacy.

In the SMBA’s view, the Dublin Street building should be no greater in bulk than the existing structure.

Because of these non-compliance issues with the now operative Unitary Plan, the SMBA considers that the resource consent should be publicly notified so that the affected parties may make formal submissions.  Unfortunately, as the site has been designated a Special Housing Area, the SMBA does not have standing to make submission – only property owners directly affected have standing.

Daily parking coupons for 20 St Mary’s Bay businesses

Auckland Transport has announced an all-day parking scheme for a limited number of businesses in the St Mary’s Bay and Freeman’s Bay residential parking zones.

The scheme is based on $5 daily coupons and limited to 20 businesses in St Mary’s Bay and 40 in Freeman’s Bay. The scheme will be administered through the Ponsonby Business Association and businesses must meet certain criteria, including:

  • No off-street parking
  • Only one coupon per day, per business.

The coupons will be specific to each parking zone but not linked to number plates. A similar scheme is planned for Ponsonby businesses once the Ponsonby Parking Zone is in place.

“We acknowledge the need for limited parking availability for businesses without any car parks, but would be concerned to see any expansion of the scheme allowing, in effect, multiple parks for commuter employees,” commented St Mary’s Bay Association chair, David Abbott. “It is important for business viability that customers can find a park easily in the 2-hour zone.”

He has also requested regular reports from Auckland Transport on parking zone statistics.

Warm regards,
David Abbott

For further information, please contact:

SMBA chair, David Abbott

SMBA secretary, Wendy Moffett

Neighbours keen to join the SMBA?

If you have neighbours who would like to join the St Mary’s Bay Association, details are here: Simply click on

  1. Complete the online form, then…
  2. Transfer the membership fee to the SMBA bank account.

Thanks to our sponsors