Jeremy Smith reports that Kāpiti’s housing crisis, and Waikanae Beach’s special character, were the focus of sharp exchanges over two hours at the latest KCDC meeting.
Here’s his report:
“Councillor Rob McCann wanted to know how “special character could house anyone” in a discussion about how some buildings at the Beach could go up to four storeys high.
Waikanae Beach ‘could end up looking like Queensland’s Gold Coast‘
Waikanae Beach resident Pat Duignan said the Beach was an asset for the entire Wellington area which could end up looking more like Queensland’s Gold Coast with high rises right against the beach.
The “high rises” could devastate the area particularly Tutere Street which runs parallel to the beach, Duignan said. “It’s appalling really.”
The debate was sparked by the council’s draft intensification plan change which faces a government-imposed deadline in August- six months away.
Medium density must come
Legislation passed under urgency just before Christmas requires selected councils- including Kapiti – to incorporate medium density housing in selected zones.
In Kapiti these zones include Paraparaumu, Raumati Beach, Paraparaumu Beach, Waikanae town and Waikanae beach and Paekakariki because of its role as a transport hub.
Asked why Waikanae beach residents were the only group so far formally opposing the high- rise requirement Duignan said he wondered if Paekakariki people understood the implications of high rise buildings.
It’s the difficulty “the central government bulldozer is making for you,” Duignan said.
He said appeals against the plans will go to a panel- “this one’s the government agent,” and beyond that the Minister (of Local government) has the final say.
Labour councillor speaks out
Rob McCann ( Labour councillor) said intensification would do something towards the housing crisis, ‘remembering the government may override us anyhow. We need to be bold and to be brave.’
Duignan who had previously made a preliminary submission talked about what he called a ‘slow lane’ for Waikanae Beach.
Rob McCann said making an exception for Waikanae beach would see everyone given an exception. With so many people in Kapiti unable to find a home “some of the rules would have to change.”
Mayor Gurunathan said the “clean slate” was an abstract notion. “You would be undermining all the work Kapiti had done on its plans.
“I recognise the housing crisis, we need a local response but not an intensification at all costs.”
He said this was not nimbyism. “We need a balanced approach, a response in the Kapiti way.”
The councillors voted to send the plan for public discussion during April.