A small community of residents who live alongside the Auckland Harbour Bridge is reeling over plans to take their homes for the $360 million SkyPath project.
On day two of the lockdown, the Northcote Point residents were surprised to hear from the NZ Transport Agency by email and telephone that their homes are going to be compulsorily acquired due to last-minute design changes.
The six properties on Princes St overlooking the Waitemata Harbour have a combined value of $15 million, which partly explains the cost of the shared walking and cycleway through to Takapuna blowing out in cost from $67m to $360m in less than two years.
Carol and Rod Brown, who have lived at her 1880s villa with a rich history at Princes St for 35 years, said the new design for the ramp at the North Shore end came as a total shock.
The house was built for the Brown family of Smith & Brown furniture fame and the first P-class yachts were launched at the bottom of the section, she said.
"We absolutely accept the fact that the pathway will go ahead. Our issues are relating to the positioning of the ramp," said Carol Brown, saying an earlier plan on February 10 only showed perhaps a square metre of air space being impacted.
Another Princes St resident, Caryle Blanche, writing on Facebook, said reckless spending at this time will not only see the loss of cherished homes when the money could be better spent elsewhere.
"Maybe I should donate my house sale money to the doctors, nurses, unemployed and everyone else who is helping us to survive," she said.
Senior project delivery manager Andrew Thackwray said the agency is aware the design process is unsettling and disruptive for property owners, saying it is treating their concerns with great sensitivity and keeping them informed of developments before they are made public.
He said the design of the shared path has been an iterative process with significant changes in a relatively short time.
North Shore residents are upset at losing their homes for the SkyPath project. (Image / NZ Transport Agency)
In February, he said, the agency said one house would be required but it was very likely the Princes St ramp design would change and likely affect more properties. More meetings were planned for March to share design developments, but the lockdown meant the update had to happen via phone meetings.
"The Princes St houses are required to allow the construction of the path at vehicle deck level along the bridge and to make the slope of the on/off ramp at Princes St more gradual and safer," said Thackwray, saying this was well supported in earlier consultation.
Today, NZTA released details of the six options considered for the Princes St ramp, all of which required the removal of a number of houses.
The preferred option is called the "zig-zag" option and involves the pathway extending to Princes St via a 5.5m wide ramp on a 1:20 gradient and the purchase of the six houses.
Thackwray said the zig-zag option provides safety and easy access to the pathway.
Carol Brown and her husband Rod slammed the report, saying it was cobbled together to justify NZTA's bad decision.
They said the points used in the assessment criteria of -2 value for money, -2 built heritage, +3 landscape and visual, +2 social/amenity, +3 noise operation, are conveniently designed to support NZTA's decision.
It is a disgrace, they said, that such little value is based on Northcote Point's important historic heritage value.
Public consultation of NZTA's resource consent application for SkyPath and running the Northern Pathway on the western side of SH1 to Esmonde Rd at Takapuna closes today, April 19.
The project, costing about $240 for SkyPath and $120m for the extension to Esmonde Rd, is part of a $6.8 billion package of transport projects announced by the Government in February, of which $3.5b will be spent in Auckland.