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New homes, new headaches at Whitby

Jul 16th, 2009 | By | Category: Latest News, News


NEW housing developments that will add more than 1000 homes to Whitby in the next decade are “piecemeal” and lack an overall vision, say some residents.

While those living in the Porirua suburb generally welcome the expansion, there are potential environmental and infrastructure impacts that worry Whitby Residents Association president Robin Gunston.

“The piecemeal nature of the developments gave us no real chance to look at [the impacts] in their entirety,” he says.

The suburb’s housing stock will have grown by almost a third once work on two major residential subdivisions reach completion.

While seeing the residential property boom as a vote of confidence in the Pauatahanui Inlet settlement, Mr Gunston says he is uncomfortable with the lack of an “overall vision” for the development.

Local resident Elizabeth Woolcott shares Mr Gunston’s concerns about the rate of change and says  both the golf course and a pine forest were sacrificed to make way for the developers.

“I was really sad to see Whitby Forest go,” she says. “I worry a little that the things that made Whitby special are being lost.”

The area’s future direction was the subject of a report, A Sustainable Future to 2030, summarising the results of a community survey carried out by the residents’ association last year.

Better provision of secondary education was a key need identified by the survey, with 82% of parents saying they wanted a public high school in Whitby.

The closest state secondary school is Aotea College in Paremata, seven kilometres from Whitby town centre.

whitbymain2Mr Gunston (left) says for families living further out in the surrounding hills, “it’s a hell of a long way”.

But Ms Woolcott disagrees the village needs its own secondary school. Aotea College offers excellent facilities and plenty of space to accommodate a rising school roll.

Parents just need some time to get used to the idea of sending their children to the decile-five school, she says.

Whitby’s changing face was one of the topics under discussion at a recent Settlement Support New Zealand (SSNZ) presentation, organised by Porirua City Council and held at the Lakeside Baptist Church hall.

The social event was a platform for education, health and welfare agencies to introduce their services and explain the kind of help they can give new settlers.

SSNZ Porirua co-ordinator Annette Woods says the area’s population explosion has been fuelled in large part by immigrants from the UK and South Africa.

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is a graduate from Whitireia's National Diploma in Journalism (Multimedia) who now works at Metro magazine in Auckland. While on the diploma programme she won the North & South Feature Writing Award.
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