7 May 2019

Elderly women take a stand as Auckland Council fights its own organisation

7:46 am on 7 May 2019

A group of women in their 70s and 80s say they're no biddies as they prepare to give evidence in the Environment Court against an Auckland Council development.

L to R: Julie Singh, Ruth Batten and Nancy Smith

Valerie Turner, Ruth Batten, Julie Singh and Nancy Smith. Photo: RNZ / Rowan Quinn

The six women in the Carrick Place pensioner housing wrote powerful letters to the council about a five-storey apartment block planned for the corner of Valley and Dominion Roads by the council's own development company, Panuku.

If it goes to that height, it will dwarf their small flats which back onto it.

Auckland Council refused Panuku permission to build to five storeys last year, but Panuku is fighting the decision in the Environment Court and the women will have their say at that hearing.

The women, who all had health problems, wrote to the council and the mayor, Phil Goff, saying they loved their 10-unit pensioner housing on a quiet cul-de-sac.

Julie Singh, who was in her 70s, said the flats were a lovely oasis of calm and that would end when the flats were built.

"Please show consideration for we retirees who just want a peaceful life," she said in her letter.

Eighty-five-year old Valerie Turner survived the World War II bombing blitz of London as a child and was still shaken by loud noises.

She was dreading earthworks for an underground carpark.

Panuku development Carrick Place, Auckland

An artist's impression of the proposed development. Photo: Auckland Council / Panuku

"Please don't dismiss my petition as just from some old biddy who doesn't know what she's talking about," she said in her letter.

"I do know and I ask you to find it in your consciences to rectify what is troubling so many of us."

Nancy Smith, who will speak for the group in court, said they were not against the development - the area needed it - but five storeys was too high.

"It's quite daunting, quite dominating and as retirees we came here to live in a peaceful situation and that is all going to be destroyed," she said.

"Most of the retirees here and senior people have lived in Auckland most of their lives, have contributed to rates and watched Auckland grow and I think we deserve some consideration."

Ruth Batten, who was nearly 80, said she was baffled that a council company was behind the apartments and that they were not affordable or social housing but for wealthy people.

The council seemed to have no control over its Council Controlled Organisations, she said.

Panuku said it could not comment on the case until it had all the evidence from all sides of the case, which was likely to be heard in the Environment Court in July or August.

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