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Residents up in arms over Albert Park development

RESIDENTS of Albert Street who have concerns over traffic, noise and their own security are strongly opposing an application for a residential facility for students and casual workers that the applicants say will bring real benefits to the community.

Gisborne District Council’s hearings committee yesterday heard an application for a discretionary activity resource consent for the former Albert Park Rest Home.

After hearing submissions from the applicant and residents, the committee adjourned to deliberate. The staff recommendation is for the application to be granted.

Monarch Holdings is seeking consent for a facility with a capacity of up to 40 residents on the 7166-square-metre site that has been vacant since the rest home closed in 2014.

For the applicant, Daniel Kingsford said the facility was sitting unused and was entirely suitable for this proposal.

It had been on the site for over 40 years and was an established component of the physical environment. It had been well maintained and was still in good condition. Continuing to maintain an unused facility of this scale was not sustainable.

The traffic plan estimated there would be 53 people movements a day. Gisborne students had a low level of vehicle ownership. He did not believe there would be any impact on parking in Albert Street.

The facility would have a live-in manager, and alcohol and drugs would be prohibited. Some residents had concerns about safety but the perception that they or their properties were at risk had no basis, he said.

He was not aware of any more suitable buildings in Gisborne. In his opinion the facility could be operated in a manner that would ensure the effects were minor. It offered real benefits to the community.

Property consultant Brian Johns said Eastern Institute of Technology management was keen to see the facility open. It would provide accommodation for just $146 a week.

Major cash injection with refurbishmentGisborne already had an oversupply of rest homes. There would be a major refurbishment costing $300,000.

Albert Street resident Chris Olsen does not like the idea. If it could not be reopened as a rest home he would prefer to see it pulled down and the area used for housing, he said. The interior of the building was a mess.

Seasonal workers and forestry teams worked long hours, starting and finishing early, and their comings and goings would disturb the neighbourhood, he said. If the applicant thought a manager could control people, “think again”.

Opponent Tania Gear said the facility would not be as the applicant expected. Students did drink alcohol and did have cars. It was not easy to tell 18 to 20-year-olds what to do, she said.

Gisborne had high unemployment — should out-of-town seasonal workers be brought in? Because the price was so low, the lowest common denominator of tenant would be attracted. The value of properties in the area would fall.

Tracy Flood said people in the area just wanted to live an undisturbed quiet life without the constant concern of ongoing disturbance or issues.

She was concerned that cars entering and leaving the property would cause sleep disturbance. The carriageway was below the minimum width and she challenged the figures in the traffic management plan.

She had seen the noise management plan and said she would not feel safe if she had issues, for fear of being targeted.

Becoming an open accommodation and visitor facility meant the facility would be open for all, including mental health clients, street children, those with a criminal past, people trying to escape abuse, people with alcohol and drug problems, and other at-risk people.

Her and her daughter’s personal safety was a very big concern. They would feel at risk physically and mentally. If the overflow became kerbside they would not be comfortable walking to the dairy or even their letterbox, she said.

They would also fear leaving the property. The Albert Park boundary contained 20 properties and residents of only three of those were consulted.

She asked the committee to suspend or decline the application or to impose sufficient conditions to make it compatible with the surrounding area.

ALBERT PARK: Inspecting the site before a hearing yesterday were Gisborne District Council hearings committee members Alan Davidson (chairman), Craig Bauld, Rehette Stoltz and Amber Dunn. Picture by Paul Rickard