Archive | Isthmus east

Widdup says joint venture will speed up development

Council will be on master plan taskforce

“I think this will speed things up,” Westfield director John Widdup said of the joint venture with Auckland One Ltd, announced today, to jointly develop their combined 7ha of Newmarket.

Quite how that will happen, he doesn’t know yet. Nor does he know precisely what will be developed.

He does know it will be done in association with the Auckland City Council, which he expects to nominate members to a Newmarket taskforce next week.

Mayor talked of taskforce in May

When the mayor of Auckland, John Banks, launched Westfield’s revised — and very downscaled — proposal for the former Mercury Energy site in Newmarket in May, he talked of a task force on Newmarket.

Mr Banks said today the parties to the Newmarket joint venture could now move the single development forward based on shared objectives, including ensuring the commercial integrity of local Newmarket & Remuera shopping environments were not simply protected but enhanced, and constructive solutions to traffic & transport issues were worked through.

“When you integrate this proposed development together with our motorway network completion & public transport programmes, an exciting future emerges for Newmarket,” Mr Banks said.

The council’s planners, meanwhile, have continued to deal with resource consent applications in the normal way and have been working on the early stages of a Newmarket “framework strategy.” Now the council will be a party to the plans for the south end of the former borough, which could make the planning process more complicated, although it’s probably similar to the council’s role in working for a better development at the old Lunn Avenue quarry in Mt Wellington.

Prospect of a truly integrated development

But Mr Widdup said having the council on the task force to develop a master plan “opens up the prospect of a truly integrated development.”

Mr Widdup said the management agreement, under which Westfield NZ will take over management of 277, would come into effect on 1 October but would be phased in.

Auckland One chief executive Michelle McKellar said 277 wouldn’t be rebranded immediately, though it would get a new look once the whole development is in place. “It will be the blue uniform, not the red uniform, so it won’t be marketed as a Westfield centre.”

Good elements of each side can be enhanced

Mr Widdup said it wasn’t as if the developers were starting from scratch — each project so far had good elements which could now be enhanced & integrated, with the infrastructure co-ordinated.

Westfield’s early plans for its patch got up to 65,000m² of retail & entertainment space before being cut back to a more realistic 49,000m², though that still raised questions about the retail capacity of Newmarket, especially in a confrontation with 277 and the existing Broadway strip.

Mr Widdup said commercial & possibly residential uses might now be incorporated in a comprehensive development. That fits in with the latest stage of the council’s framework strategy.

Given Westfield’s management role, plus its development & construction arm, will Ms McKellar & Auckland One have more than a passive investment role to play? Mr Widdup thinks so: “They will be taking a role of advising on the development side of things. Passive? I wouldn’t say that.”

Ms McKellar was even more emphatic: McKellar plans to be more than a passive investor’s agent

Council wants Newmarket framework strategy done by June 2003

Westfield launches scaled-down Newmarket centre in May

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Ports of Auckland to set up second inland port

New site at Otahuhu

Ports of Auckland will establish its second inland port in August, at Otahuhu. The first inland port is at East Tamaki.

Chief executive Geoff Vazey said on Friday that setting up inland ports was in line with the company’s strategy to set up a network of container terminal & shuttle services at strategic locations in the Auckland region.

“We are determined to become more involved in the container transport logistics chain. Our purpose is to get closer to cargo owners and make it easier for them to get their containers to & from the seaport.

“We’re increasing capacity without utilising expensive waterfront land. This means we can make better use of our port assets,” Mr Vazey said.

Ports of Auckland’s first inland container port & shuttle service was established in February next to Fisher & Paykel’s manufacturing plant at East Tamaki.

Ports of Auckland Otahuhu will operate within part of a 22ha container-handling area recently leased by Sky Group of Malaysia, which operates container facilities at Port Klang. Sky Group will provide transport, cargo-handling & site management services for Ports of Auckland. Most of Auckland’s empty container depots are located in Otahuhu, and the company said close availability of empties would help improve container freight logistics.

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Broadway Mall Partnership gets stage 2 changes approved

Planning consent, 24 May 2002:

Newmarket, 180 Broadway, Auckland City Council’s planning fixtures sub-committee granted Broadway Mall Partnership (Yeo Toon Yit, half-owner, of Singapore, Lim Ming Siam & Lim Teck Hoo, a quarter-share each, both from Brunei) an extension of time to 31 January 2005 and some changes in conditions to the consent granted in June 1998, and made the approvals non-notified.

The partnership plans to start work on stage 2 of its Broadway Mall project, between the railway tracks & strip of shops fronting Broadway.

One of the changes will occur at Whitcoulls, on which the partnership has an unconditional purchase contract and which will provide Broadway access into the mall behind the strip of shops.

The existing access to the railway station, along a lane beside Whitcoulls and across a service lane, will be changed to provide a covered walkway and pedestrians will no longer have to negotiate the service lane, which will be moved & integrated with the parking access from Remuera Rd opposite Nuffield St.

Planning consultant Richard Blakey said that under the 4-year consent which was due to run out in June the partnership had completed stage 1 & the first phase of stage 2. The partnership now wants to complete the rest of stage 2 in phases, and won agreement for its $2 million financial contribution to be phased as well.

Under the original consent, the whole development was to contain 36,000m² of apartments, retail space, parking & public areas. The changes take the total to 43,501m².

The floor-area schedules now, with the original consent figures in brackets, are:

Office 5957m² (6955m² )
Retail 8427m² (8394m² )
Mall 1763m² (1704m² )
Storage 314m² (416m² )
Food hall 906m² (none)
Apartments 8197m² (9911m² )
Circulation/service 7717m² (3404m² )
Total 43,501m² (36,616m² )
Floor:area ratio 2.46:1 (2.074:1) compared to a permitted maximum of 3.5:1The project will contain 292 apartments & mixed-use units (apartment spaces which the developers believed might be taken up for commercial occupancy) and the original design provided for 1362 parking spaces, of which 173 would be for public use.

The redesign provides for larger apartments and resiting of units on floors 5, 6 & 7 of stage 2 to provide higher standards of accommodation.Extra apartment space will total 2674m² .

Extra circulation space will total 4313m² , including a landscaped courtyard.

Total parking will increase from 1387 to 1536 spaces, and the public spaces will rise form 184 (an earlier increase) to 286.

One of the councillors’ concerns, traffic congestion, was discussed but allowed to rest, though there will be a review clause on traffic management.

The subject will need to be addressed as Newmarket faces redevelopment of the Mercury Energy site by Westfield NZ Ltd, which originally proposed having 3000 parking spaces and 200 shops, redevelopment under way by Auckland One Ltd at 277 Broadway & across to the Levene Xtreme site, and redevelopment by Retail Holdings Ltd of the 255 Broadway site, for which consent has been granted.

A traffic survey on Remuera Rd by Middleton Rd, done by Traffic Design Group Ltd, showed a 7-day average daily traffic volume of 6900 vehicles eastbound & 9300 westbound.

Click to return to Auckland City consent activity 24 May 2002

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Westfield knocked back on all counts in Kiwi’s Sylvia Park victory

Panmure & Otahuhu told to fend for themselves, Maori relationship claim rejected

Kiwi Income Property Trust has won Environment Court approval for the plan change allowing its 21ha Sylvia Park business centre, which joint managing director Richard Didsbury said would be open by mid-2005.

The development will be staged on the site at the heart of the Auckland isthmus, beside the junction of the Southerm Motorway & South-eastern Highway, and is likely to take 10 years to complete.

Its cost over that period is likely to exceed $400 million. Mr Didsbury said international architectural firm Gensler had been engaged to develop the master plan, and it could be late next year before work on site actually starts.

Resounding knockback for trade competitor

The court decision was a resounding knockback for the attempt by Westfield NZ Ltd to stifle the development on the grounds of trade competition (not allowed as an appeal basis under the Resource Management Act and, of course, not stated as the appeal basis).

Even so, it was effectively Westfield’s opposition that delayed approval by 21 months, from the date Auckland City Council approved the plan change, 9 March 2000.

It was also a rejection of non-specific Maori interests in land as a basis for declining consent.

And it gave a clear signal to declining suburban centres that they can’t rely on court protection from new developments to save them from extinction. They must adjust to new competitive forces, either by competing successfully or changing their identities.

Council’s quarry ruling took different view on local infrastructure effect

This is an interesting conclusion in its acceptance of the Panmure town centre’s uncertain future, an uncertainty heightened by the proposed development of Sylvia Park at the other end of the Mt Wellington Highway, on top of the Harvey Norman Centre retail development at the Panmure end of that highway.

The conclusion seems at odds with an important part of the Auckland City Council’s rejection 13 months ago of the Fletcher Challenge/Brierley Investments proposal for a town centre on the 105ha Lunn Ave quarry, slightly closer to Panmure and also near the Glen Innes shopping centre.

On Lunn Ave, the hearing panel said the proposal “would result in considerable adverse effects on surrounding centres and the social & community infrastructure they contain & the physical resources which these centres comprise. The applicant offered to provide no community facilities for the development nor any mitigating measures at other centres.”

Proposal allows for 148,000m² business centre

Kiwi Income’s Sylvia Park proposal covers 21ha on a site developed in the 1940s as a supply base for US armed forces and nowadays used for warehouses, light industrial activity & a depot for shipping containers.

The Environment Court panel, headed by former Principal Environment Judge David Sheppard, allowed a plan change rezoning the site business 8 to allow for a town centre. That allows for a business centre with a gross floor area of 148,000m², including a maximum 75,000m² for retail premises, entertainment facilities, taverns, cafés, restaurants & other eating places. Of that 75,000m², a maximum 61,000m² can be for retail premises.

In a transitional 25m strip between the main town centre area & adjoining residential 6A land, the maximum gross floor area of development will be 6000m², of which at least half has to be residential.

The plan change provides for threshold points by which certain core activities must be provided, mostly community facilities.

The altruism of Westfield & 255 Broadway

All of this was opposed by the country’s biggest shopping centre manager, Westfield NZ Ltd (another arm of the group, Westfield Trust, owns those centres), which has redevelopment plans for its Manukau City Centre & Pakuranga Plaza centres and wants to develop a large new mall on the Mercury Energy site in Newmarket.

The owners of 255 Broadway also opposed the Sylvia Park proposal, but provided no independent evidence or submissions.

The whole trade opposition case was thus advanced by Westfield — not on its own behalf, of course, but on behalf of declining suburban centres such as Panmure & Otahuhu.

Court approach to trade competition

This is how the court approached the issue of trade competition (to be disregarded) & the submissions by Westfield purporting to be on behalf of endangered centres: “We accept that in deciding these proceedings we are not to have regard directly to the trade competition effects of the proposed Sylvia Park shopping centre on other businesses.

“We are to assess the consequential social & economic effects on the people & communities served by the existing shopping centres cited.

“To do that we first need to make findings about growth in the relevant market: retail floor space in other centres, growth in population, and growth in retail spending.

“Secondly, we need to make findings about the extent of the impact on trade competitors from which the social & economic effects are claimed to follow. The third step is to make findings about the social & economic effects consequential on the loss of trade.”

Court accepts impacts, says other centres must adapt

The court found: “It is more probably than not that retailing at the proposed Sylvia Park would result in initial losses of trade at the Panmure & Otahuhu centres generally of about the proportions estimated by Dr Doug Fairgray (11% & 14%), and consistent with the opinions expressed by Mark Tansley [both expert witnesses for Kiwi].

“Those effects would abate in the short term, due to factors in the previous paragraph [of the judgment, not in this story], and to adaptations in their business areas in response.”

The factors previously cited were faster household growth than previously supposed in the area, and the offsetting of a diversion of trade to Sylvia Park by growth in retail space in other centres and the probability that household retail spending would increase over the next five years.

My interpretation: In property terms, that amounts to a growth in capital spending to maintain income (amounting to a lower return), accompanied by cashflow growing at the rate of inflation (which is not real growth), which would mean no capital growth in existing centres — unless a general change in property use in each existing centre creates a new demand.

For the existing centres that means the miracle of rebirth. The court’s unequivocal statement is that they should get to work on the miracle.

Court rejects retail licensing ploy

Alan Bradbourne, for Westfield, doubted that these existing centres would respond to the loss of trade by evolving into business or community focal points, but the court found that assumptions of losses of 25% were overstated.

Here, the court made a firm statement rejecting trade competition opposition in the guise of sustainable resource management suggestions: “Although we understand why Mr Bradbourne recommended caution, retail licensing should not be introduced under the guise of protecting communities from the consequential effects of trade competition.

“Even if losses of trade to the extents estimated by Dr Fairgray persist for longer than the short term, we are not persuaded that they would jeopardise the ability of the Panmure & Otahuhu centres to serve as focal points for the local communities they serve.

“In short, we find that the social & economic effects on the Panmure & Otahuhu communities consequential on the loss of trade to the proposed Sylvia Park centre would not be nearly as great as alleged by the Westfield & Newmarket interests.

“We do not accept the claims that the sustainability of those centres would be destroyed, that their viability would be jeopardised, that their social functions would be significantly reduced, or that people would be disenabled in access to local shopping.”

Unbelievable Westfield traffic argument

The court then moved on to squashing Westfield’s unbelievable argument that the development would not accord with regional & district transport strategies because it would draw business from across the Auckland isthmus past other retail centres, so increased transport costs would be incurred in unnecessary travel.

Unbelievable, because anyone with a desire to build bigger & better regional shopping centres, as Westfield has, must have a target of drawing people from a wider catchment to their new centres. Judges look askance at any lawyer who presents a case one day entirely contradicting their case of the day before.

Judge Sheppard also noted that the Sylvia Park development would have railway & bus stations to encourage public transport.

Maori claims precisely rejected

The one other issue where the court presented a hard line against Sylvia Park opponents came in considering the Ngati Maru Iwi Authority’s objection, “founded on its claims that the people of the Marutuahu Confederation have a relationship with the subject land, that the land contains special sites having metaphysical value to them, that Marutuahu have kaitiaki responsibilities for those sites, and that construction activities provided for by the plan change would compromise that relationship & those responsibilities.”

Ngati Maru presented two witnesses, Mr WK Peters & the authority’s manager, Mr D Taipari. Asked by the court if he knew anyone “who personally has a traditional or cultural relationship with any part of the application area,” Mr Peters identified Tipa Compain, who was in court but wasn’t called to give evidence.

Mr Taipari said there were areas that would require preservation, but he couldn’t identify any.

“In summary, the evidence to support the assertions of the existence of special sites & waahi tapu in the application land was at best general assertions based on indirect sources. The witnesses did not profess to have detailed personal knowledge. Their testimony lacked the particularity needed to identify them in the way that the court could amend the plan change to protect them directly…

“The outcome is that we are not satisfied that there is reliable evidence of the existence, location & nature on the application land of the claimed sites that would justify making judicial findings about them. The authority’s claim that there exists a relationship of Maori & their culture & traditions with the application land, or sites, waahi tapu & other taonga in respect of it, was not made out.”

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Panmure’s liveable community plan adopted

First in liveable community series had some heartache on way through

Panmure councillor & works committee chairman Bill Christian says the Panmure community’s heart has been revitalised now the Auckland City Council has adopted the liveable community plan for the suburb.

It took 3 years of consultation and was adopted at last week’s council meeting.

“The process of planning for future growth has been difficult for the Panmure community and Auckland City has had to work hard to create trust and form a partnership approach.

“During the consultative phase we have seen the emergence of the Panmure Community Action Group and the revitalisation of the Panmure Commercial Association.

“Well over 300 residents have been actively involved in the consultation process through attendance at public meetings,” Cllr Christian said.

The process began with a discussion document, Panmure’s Future, which brought alarm from residents who thought the suburb might be subjected to development of a forest of 10-storey apartment blocks.

Cllr Christian said the principles in the Panmure liveable community plan included managed growth in locations close to employment, transport routes & shops, the maintenance & development of strong communities, best practice urban design & economic development, and employment & funding for projects to help the plan work.

“Now that the plan has been adopted an action plan & funding strategy to implement it will be prepared & reported to the city development committee,” he said.

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Cheshire St language school gets parking dispensation

Planning consent, 5 July 2002:

Parnell, 13 Cheshire St, Auckland City Council’s planning fixtures sub-committee granted Lady Ruby Investments Ltd (Ian Calderwood & John Murdoch, Jonmer Projects Ltd) non-notified hearing & resource consent for a 16-space parking shortfall at the building occupied by the Oceania International College Ltd language school (Martin Wall & Masanori Sakamoto).

The committee made the consent conditional on the language school, which uses the first floor, being restricted to students under driving age, and a limit of 80. When resource consent for the language school was granted last October, the school said it would lease 21 of its 27 required parking spaces offsite, but found this parking wasn’t being used.

Click to return to Auckland City consent activity 5 July 2002

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277 gets non-notified hearing for next stage

Planning consent, 10 December 2002:

Newmarket, 277 Broadway, Auckland City Council’s regulatory & fixtures sub-committee granted Auckland One Ltd non-notified hearing for its application to proceed with the next stages of the 277 mall expansion back to Gillies Ave.

The full development will have 22,338m² gross floor area of retail space & 9338m² of office space.

The redevelopment on Gillies Ave, stretching across to Morrow St & Mortimer Pass, will be a 7-storey parking garage, integrated with the rest of the block. The parking building has been designed to match the volcanic-rock walls of Highwic House (on the Gillies Ave-Mortimer Pass corner) and across the street on Gillies Ave.

According to a report in the dossier supplied to councillors, the cladding is to comprise “a combination of feature rock gabion walls interspersed with an ivy-like natural jasmine. The cladding material has been chosen to reflect the characteristics of the surrounding environment in terms of both the exposed rock walls & vegetation that is in the immediate vicinity.”

The original 2 parking levels are converted in the redevelopment into a single retail level, and the existing 1st floor will be renovated & extended. These 2 retail areas are then integrated with the new retail space for which access is from the corner of Broadway & Mortimer Pass.

The National Property Trust, which has taken over Newmarket Property Trust and thereby gained control of the Rialto complex at the other end of the main Broadway strip, made an attempt to out a spanner in the works, expressing concern that the 277 development “may have the potential to adversely affect traffic conditions in Newmarket generally.”

However, Steve Reddish, senior associate at Traffic Planning Consultants Ltd, concluded in his review of traffic effects that the 277 expansion would not significantly increase traffic in the wider Newmarket area, though it would result in a noticeable increase around the 277 block.

Committee chairman Cllr Juliet Yates remained concerned that Auckland One had taken no notice of a suggestion made at council workshops on the fuure of Newmarket, that Morrow St & Mortimer Pass revert to 2-way traffic. Mr Reddish said he hadn’t considered the notion, and added that it would make matters worse, causing more turning & delays.

Cllr Yates didn’t get any joy on her hope for landscaping on the 3m adjoining Gillies Ave, either, because the replacement building will go to the footpath, as the old buildings have done.

The councillors appeared to want to come up with some obstruction. In the end, Cllr Mulholland moved non-notification, Cllr Christian seconded that and the pair voted; Cllr Yates appeared to take no part in the decision.

Click to return to Auckland City consent activity 10 December 2002

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Otahuhu courthouse flats consent deferred, prescription wanted for Otahuhu church hours

Planning consent, 2 August 2002:

Otahuhu, 8-10 Princes St, Auckland City Council’s regulatory & fixtures sub-committee granted St Stephens Holdings Ltd (Luke Carter) non-notified hearing but deferred determination of resource consent for its application to build 42 residential units in the former Otahuhu District Courthouse.

The former courthouse sits on a 4480m² site. The development proposal is to build 2 new levels above the existing roofline and to create 10 1-beddies, 32 2-beddies, a common room, and provide 54 parking spaces at the rear & on ground level.

The property is in the council’s new mixed-use zone and is within 30m of residentially zoned land. The parking provision would amount to a 30-space shortfall. The company also wants its reserves contribution to be bonded.

Vehicle access would be blocked during rubbish collections. Committee chairman Cllr Juliet Yates said she was greatly concerned for pedestrians on Princes St from a development of this nature, because of the rubbish collection. “Normally we require refuse collection onsite, not on the street,” she said.

The committee is likely hold a short-notice hearing on the consent application.

Prescription wanted for church hours

Otahuhu, 60 Huia Rd, the committee agreed to alter the wording of a condition on operating hours for the Free Church of Tonga but didn’t agree on replacement wording, which will be redrafted & approved by the committee chairman.

Essentially, the rewording will be prescriptive — Town & Country Planning Act-style rather than Resource Management Act-style.

The application was to extend the church’s operating hours to all times except standard business hours (7.30am-5.30pm Monday-Friday), when parking on Huia Rd is at a premium, but the committee was concerned at the openness of the hours.

“It’s unfair to allow that condition when we restrict taverns etc, not that we want to restrict their [the church’s] activities,” Cllr Graeme Mulholland said.

Council planner Anna Sinnott said the church was looking for flexibility. Under the present rules, “if they want to have an extra choir practice 1 night, they can’t.”

Click to return to Auckland City consent activity 2 August 2002

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Reserves deal enables Palmers to stay on Shore Rd

Popular garden centre site is on reserve land

Auckland City Council’s recreation & events committee agreed on 3 April to issue a minimum 15-year lease – instead of the recommended final & maximum 15-year lease, no renewal – to the owners of Palmers Garden Centre on the corner of Shore & Orakei Rds, Remuera.

The new lease may be longer than 15 years “if sufficient public benefits can be demonstrated.” However, the council needed to indicate that long-term the site was to be developed as a recreation area, which it did so the Conservation Department could process a transfer of land.

The Palmers site has been a nursery or garden centre since 1951, but is actually reserve land, mostly owned by the Crown with the rest owned by the council.

“Council has been keen to retain the garden centre as it is a good commercial tenant and a popular retail outlet with Eastern Bays residents. However there has been considerable debate about the merits of a
commercial operation on land having a recreation reserve status,” property officer Helen Wheatley wrote in her report.

“An alternative to the site being vacated was proposed and agreed to by the Department of Conservation, being an exchange of the Crown-owned area for a similar area of council land on the other side of Shore Rd, being land known as part of Martyns Field and Tonks Reserve. As well, the reserve status over the council-owned area would be uplifted. The garden centre site would then not be subject to the Reserves Act but instead be recreation ground, and council could issue a commercial lease to the garden centre owners, at its existing site.”

The garden centre owners are to pay for a boardwalk, associated fencing & handrails, plus a small focal area in front of the café for viewing the mangroves & Hobson Bay. Along the pathway and coastal edge, exotic weeds will be removed and native coastal species planted. “The café itself will provide a
welcome stopping point for people using the walkway around Hobson Bay. A children’s play area with a coastal theme will be provided near the café.”

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Council rejects private quarry zone change

Unhappy with Lunn Ave quarry ideas, councillors vote to take over rezoning task

Brierley Investments and Fletcher Challenge ended up as partners in the quarry at Lunn Ave, Mt Wellington, through their interests in Winstone and, after four years of planning, their way out looked set.

That was, until they got before a planning panel which didn’t just reject the companies’ proposed zone change allowing for a town centre to be established there. The panel set out page after page of reasons for the rejection, then decided to recommend the council carry out its own zone change to replace the rejected private one.

Auckland City councillors agreed to that course last Thursday night.

Brierley Investments’ takeovers of the late 80s brought it numerous property investments, and a half share of the Lunn Ave quarry was one, although the Winstone Aggregates business was passed on to Fletcher Challenge.

The two big listed companies were also partners in floating Seabil, which took on a portfolio of Brierley properties and a selection of Fletcher interests, including the Fletcher Challenge head office complex at Penrose. That portfolio was subsequently merged with the former Robt Jones Investments to become Trans Tasman Properties.

Fletcher breakup changed position

There was no great hurry to redevelop the quarry, because the quarry still had several years of mining to conduct, but over the past four years the plans were put together, discussed with Auckland City Council and its planning staff and finally promoted as a subdivision project called Lake Park two years ago.

The 105ha site would have a 13ha lake, more than 700 residential lots, some warehouses and retail space.

Brierley has not been an intentionally long-term holder of many of its property interests, and in this case the development strategy provided an exit.

For Fletcher Property, the decision to break up the group this year gave the development plan the impetus it hadn’t had before. Not only was the Fletcher group being split into two sell-offs and two standalone companies, but the Building division went about decimating Fletcher Property’s development arm.

General manager Paul Duffy and most of his crew are gone, leaving only a handful to tidy up the remains. That would have meant the subdivision being put on the market with plans in place and some contracts secured.

The hearings panel report, council’s decision to write its own zone change and need for the joint venture partners to take the long road through the Environment Court to overturn the council decisions places all that in jeopardy.

Four years’ planning, two-week hearing

The application for a zone change went before independent commissioners Mike Hayman and David Chandler, councillor and Tamaki Community Board member Bill Christian and Cllr Juliet Yates, who chairs the council’s planning & regulatory committee and also the planning fixtures sub-committee, over a fortnight in August and September.

The application was to introduce a new business 10 zone to provide specifically for development of this town centre, which would contain a range of business activities, including up to 50,000m² of retail space and 10,000m² of offices.

In the residential 2 zone, an increased density of one unit to 250m², with no height limit, was proposed, to accommodate 700-900 units.

Findings and recommendations

But the hearings panel found the applicants’ information and evidence did not demonstrate that the site was suitable for a town centre and business area of the size proposed, and that the change proposed “would set in place a development pattern which has not been adequately supported by convincing evidence and which was seriously questioned by the evidence of submitters.”

The council accepted the panel’s view that any plan change should provide more certainty about the form of development. It was not satisfied that the evidence showed there was enough demand in the area for retail development on the scale proposed, nor evidence of the catchment required to sustain the proposed town centre.

The council said it was not necessary to introduce a new zone when the district plan already had two zones, business 8 and 9, for sites in transition.

On traffic, the panel was not satisfied with the applicants’ assessment of potential effects, said a thorough re-evaluation should include analysis of public transport which might serve the site, and that this re-evaluation should fully involve the council.

Reverse sensitivity was dealt with inadequately and the panel said more open space was needed.

Report goes beyond other retailers’ interests

Major retail groups Westfield, Kiwi Income, Progressive and Foodstuffs, all with vested interests, opposed the development. But the panel’s report went beyond those vested interests, saying the proposal “would result in considerable adverse effects on surrounding centres and the social and community infrastructure they contain and the physical resources which these centres comprise.

“The applicant offered to provide no community facilities for the development nor any mitigating measures at other centres.”

The report said more homes should be provided, and could be absorbed by the market.

But the recommendation adopted by the council also said the existing business 5 and 7 zones were inappropriate for any desirable form of future development of the quarry, so the council should initiate its own plan change. It said a wealth of information had surfaced at the hearing and the council should proceed with its own zone change without delay.

To enable some early development progress — and acknowledging the “already significant outlay” by the applicants — the panel said a separate plan change should be produced for subdivision of the northern and eastern areas suitable for housing.

One thing councillors didn’t like was an advice note saying “consideration should be given to advancing the date for the construction of the Eastern Highway in light of expected traffic effects arising from the development of this site.”

Said Cllr Kay McKelvie: “It’s a backdoor way of getting the eastern highway built.”

However, the council received the report and adopted the recommendations after the acting director of planning services, John Duthie, said that to reject the advice notes would technically open the panel’s decision to challenge.

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