Archive | Neighbourhoods

Coastal subdivision prices skyrocket

Top Arrigato lot at Pakiri priced at $368,000/ha

Asking prices on the Arrigato subdivision at Pakiri, out to the east coast from Warkworth and over the hill from Leigh, are $100,000/ha higher than those proposed 4 years ago.

The key difference is that the subdivision now has resource consent for the full 14-lot breakup of the old farm, which ran from the isolated southern end of Pakiri Beach, along the start of the cliffs that wind round to Leigh, and very steeply up to Pakiri Rd.

Property developer Ian Gillespie bought the farm in 2 transactions in 1995, paying $3.2 million for 169ha. He sold some and began the process of subdividing the rest, about 148ha, into the Dovedale Estate.

By the time the consent and court processes were completed, Mr Gillespie had sold. Meanwhile, the price has rocketed. Mr Gillespie’s Dovedale project was priced at $9.64 million.

In new hands (Susan Hamilton and Kim Spencer at Kitchener Homes Ltd), the subdivision has been partly reshaped and the asking prices now total $24.7 million, plus $1.6 million of landscape and planting bonds.

Mr Gillespie’s original purchase was at $16,535 a hectare, followed by purchase of a smaller patch at double that price. His Dovedale indicative sale prices were at an average $65,312/ha, serviced and planted. The top price of $1.3 million included a house on 12.7ha.

Back from the water the price level got down towards $37,000/ha, while a prime 4ha lot was priced at $124,250/ha.

Four years later, the asking prices have jumped by just over $100,000 a hectare to $165,816/ha, plus an average $10,745/ha bond.

The most expensive lot four years ago, 12.7ha high above the cliffs, has jumped $1 million in price to $2.3 million but the most expensive offering now is 22.8ha running back from the beachfront. The asking price is a cool $5.5 million, plus a $201,000 bond, according to a subdivision update from Craig Matheson at Barfoot & Thompson, Whangarei.

That lot is worth $241,228/ha. The adjoining 9.5ha is priced at $3.5 million — $368,421/ha.

Mr Matheson said applications for new titles were lodged with the Rodney District Council this week and offers would be considered “on an informal tendering basis.”

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Integrated revegetation management structure for Pakiri

But no agreement on holding back titles until canopy achieved

Auckland Regional Council has won acceptance that an integrated management structure should be put in place to carry out planting & maintain revegetation on the controversial Arrigato subdivision at Pakiri.

But the new owner & subdivider of the farm, Kitchener Homes Ltd (director Susan Hamilton, with husband Kim Spencer also a shareholder through family trusts), hasn’t accepted another regional council proposition, that individual site titles be held back until planting is completed and it looks like a 75% canopy will be achieved.

The management structure proposed by the council’s manager of policy implementation in the strategic policy department, Hugh Jarvis, made sense all round: instead of dealing with up to 14 owners, a contractor would cross the new boundaries (which Mr Jarvis said should also, sensibly, be unfenced), getting a new planting programme underway, carrying out maintenance which wasn’t done after the first planting (an omission which resulted in a success rate down to 5% in some places), and ensuring weed & pest control after the canopy was achieved.

Mr Jarvis made his suggestions in a detailed proposal to the Environment Court today on how to implement conditions for a resource consent, granted in 1999 but held up through appeals. The hearing on conditions began on Monday and will close early on Wednesday after final submissions from counsel for the development companies, Arrigato Investments Ltd & Evensong Enterprises Ltd, Richard Brabant.

Mr Jarvis suggested a management trust or body corporate owned by the buyers of the subdivision sites high above the southern end of Pakiri Beach, a proposal which would have to be taken back to the buyers. More than half the 13 available sites on the 148ha farm have conditional buyers.

Rodney District Council proposed a bond to tie the subdivider & land buyers to the planting & maintenance programme, but Mr Jarvis was less enthusiastic about that.

The suggested bond was about $890,000, though the project budget including maintenance is about $2.1 million and landscape architect Dennis Scott, for Arrigato, suggested he could do the work for about $1.6 million.

That gives a range of $29,000-60,000/ha for revegetating the farm to re-establish a forest of native trees.

“From my experience with rural subdivision in other parts of the region, I have concluded that the successful use of bonds to ensure environmental results beyond the immediate establishment of plants has been mixed,” Mr Jarvis told Judge Gordon Whiting & Commissioner Robert Gapes.

“The attractiveness of rural & coastal land in the Auckland region for rural-residential development, and the high prices obtained for prime sites, coupled with the risk of failure as demonstrated to date, means that there is a high risk of the bonds being forfeited & written off as a business expense against the cost of the section.”

Mr Jarvis went on to set out detailed conditions, which he said should replace more general terms agreed by Arrigato & the district council.

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Poorly structured start to raising population on Auckland’s northern fringe

Hibiscus Coast intensification process starts

Rodney District Council, now under the control of a fast-tracking commissioner, released discussion papers last Thursday on development scenarios for Orewa and the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, and on higher density for Orewa.

But it was a limited release. The commissioner, Grant Kirby (below), found as he sat in the mayoral chair in Rodney’s council chamber that he was talking about documents nobody else had a copy of.

Commissioner Kirby also found merit in a staff planner’s suggestion that workshops be run to get popular involvement. But if workshops are in the programme, they’ve been well hidden. Submissions need to be in by 31 May so they can be used in completing the district plan. A timetable for notifying the district plan may be produced this Thursday.

After his first sitting as the commission in place of a full council meeting, council staff rustled up some copies of the development scenarios document for the media but were short of copies of the Orewa density document. Frantic copying was to be done, but they’re still short.

The council advertised these documents today, saying they would be available for inspection at the usual places such as the council offices and libraries. They can also be bought, though counter staff had to find out the price and had no copies immediately available for sale.

After the resignation and suspension of the mayor, Doug Armstrong, and councillors in March and April, some aspects of the council’s work were well behind schedule and Mr Kirby has worked quickly to rectify that.

Sitting last Thursday, Mr Kirby had discussion with his two advisors, regional councillor Brian Smith and planning commissioner Ken Graham, new community liaison officer Kaaren Goodall, and staff dealing with various topics. And at the end of each topic there was no need for counting votes, it was a simple matter of saying “I adopt the recommendation,” although a few times he varied the content of the recommendation first.

So in this fashion Mr Kirby was able to fast-track his meeting. Even so, he has made it clear he wants to see community involvement.

In line with regional blueprint

The discussion papers relate to accommodating a much greater population in Rodney, and particularly on the Hibiscus Coast over the next 50 years, and they fall in line with the regional growth strategy put together over the past four years.

But in Rodney they are unlikely to get the kind of consideration being given to such propositions elsewhere in the region.

Mr Kirby picked up on a suggestion from the council’s principal planner (projects), Rob Bates, that “it would be beneficial to workshop it, and [have] displays.”

Papakura District Council has been doing precisely that on areas earmarked in the regional growth strategy for major urbanisation and, at Hingaia, greenfields development. The Papakura council ran a series of charrettes, with the format guided by the same company which has produced the Hibiscus Coast development scenario documents, Urban Initiatives.

There is another distinct difference between the two exercises: at Papakura, residents were asked to discuss what society, environment and neighbourhoods they would like to see, but the documents created for the Hibiscus Coast seem to be driven by pure numbers.

For the Hibiscus Coast, it is a case of setting a figure to be reached in 50 years, then seeing where these people might fit (oh, and how they might be talked into using public transport). Unlike the Papakura discussions, there is nothing in the Hibiscus Coast scenarios about jobs, whether Whangaparaoa will continue to be a dormitory suburb with a large proportion of its population heading south to work every day, whether heavier than service industry might be formed in the neighbourhood, whether new residential greenfields and perhaps new commercial and industrial greenfields developments might be created.

A peninsula like Whangaparaoa is very much about environment, so it is conceivable that residents might try to restrict the type of growth that could be foisted on them to get the numbers up. They will be relieved to know Mr Kirby and the planners do not favour more infill housing to achieve that aim, which means the sources of that windfall will continue to dry up and more value will be placed on sites chosen for higher-density development.

The proposal is to add another 15,000 people in Orewa, beyond growth already predicted, and 5000 more on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.
Under the proposed growth scenario, the Hibiscus Coast population would rise at an average 1000 people a year, reaching 81,000 in 2051.

It works on a steady ratio of 2.6 persons per dwelling, which means an average of 380 homes a year would need to be built to accommodate the growth.

Highest density is proposed for central Orewa, with building heights up to 10 storeys and potential net density of 30-50m² per unit. In Orewa South and Red Beach, the scenario is for buildings up to five storeys and net density of 50-100m².

Most other higher-density areas show suggested building heights of three storeys and net density of 100-150m². Because the proposed intensification would be at specific points, the planners say most existing developed areas should not be negatively affected.

The Urban Initiatives action programme proposal starts with “a structured programme of community consultation” on intensification and finishes with rezoning to meet the assessed needs. What the council has done, instead, is seek hurried responses.

Orewa density increase

The Orewa town centre density options paper supports the case of developers wanting to build modestly sized towers (up to 10 storeys) and suggests an increase in basic maximum building density from the current floor area ratio (FAR) of 1.5:1 to 2.5:1.

Maximum site coverage now is 50% and this would increase to 90%. For larger comprehensive developments covering at least 2700m², a maximum FAR of 4:1 is suggested.

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Intensive housing under spotlight

Shore councillors discuss new approach to higher density

North Shore City councillors regularly shudder when the subject of Oteha Valley is raised, because the terraced housing in the strip between East Coast Rd and the Northern Motorway is not at all what they had in mind in allowing higher density residential development there.

A strategy & finance committee review of intensive housing yesterday was one meeting in a series by which councillors hope to gain more control over what is built.

It followed a June meeting on the subject and councillors want the plan on how to implement a new strategy to be put before them at their November meeting, or earlier if possible.

One report presented to the committee yesterday by John Dennis of Research Solutions showed that although outsiders think new-style terraces and apartments are intrinsically bad, residents themselves are happy enough.

“A large segment of neighbours [of higher-density projects] simply believe that no-one should live in high-density housing. That is going to be a problem for councils,” Mr Dennis said.

These findings were part of a study of five Auckland region intensive-housing areas (Oteha Valley and Birkenhead on the Shore, Ranui, Epsom and Botany). While the general picture was one of moderate happiness, however, one graph showed Oteha Valley residents were far less happy than the rest about outside privacy, construction quality and design.

But here is more to it than a simple overall picture will convey: councillors are concerned about recreation and open-space provision, proximity to facilities, shops and transport, down to the practicality of being able to plant trees where the built-up and paved areas dominate, and the effect of so much impermeable surface.

There are councillors such as Andrew Eaglen, who does not want growth to be regarded as inevitable, Tony Holman, who talks of holistic approaches and a need to pay more attention to ecology, and Joel Cayford, concerned at the view that the market should drive everything and wanting to see incentives for intensive housing to be built in existing built-up areas instead of taking more greenfields space.

Cllr Eaglen, along with Cllr Margaret Miles, has been sitting as a hearings commissioner on the rezoning of expansion land at Albany, between North Harbour Stadium and the motorway, the western side of Oteha Valley Rd and the proposed Westfield town centre.

Most of that block of land is owned by the overall developer of the former Housing Corporation block at Albany, Neil Group, which has devised plans for the expansion zone as its next stage in developing the whole area.

The Neil scheme includes a medical centre and hotel in one precinct, vehicle-related businesses in another, and the company also wants to be able to put housing on parts of the site, without stipulating precisely where yet.

The councillors are therefore in the position of imposing a set of design rules where the owner has already established likely uses. Uses will change over time, which the set of rules needs to take into account.

Meanwhile, under the Resource Management Act councillors are required not to think prescriptively, a way of thinking which these councillors naturally fall into as they try to envisage a new town centre and its fringe business area. The act requires councils to provide enabling guidelines.

When it comes to the provision of more intensive housing, Shore councillors have been aware of demand for this type of home and a strong desire among developers to provide it. They have also been confronted by neighbours who don’t want potential slums, high walls, loss of privacy from dwellers looking down on them, and have tended to side more with the status quo, which keeps us all living close to ground level.

Mr Dennis told the committee development needs to be more integrated, and whole-area planning is needed so developers will have more certainty. Infrastructure (such as public transport) should be in place early, not come later.

David Mead, of planning consultancy Hill Young-Cooper, said in a report being prepared for the Auckland Regional Council and Regional Growth Forum that the Auckland region did not have enough growth management planning to deal with intensification, which just happens to be a major plank of the regional strategy.

“We rely too much on the controls in the district plan instead of infrastructure [being in place], consulting [with parties and the community]. The council has to take a strong leadership role.”

Mr Mead said urban design codes should be a starting point for discussion and negotiation rather than an end point. “You can’t come up with a set of rules that say this is how every development should be.”

[This story will continue later today.]

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Webster withdraws injunction stopping Takapuna Telecom House sale

Landco gets deal with Tauber

The GMO Trust Ltd (Greg Olliver of Landco Ltd) has secured the sale of Telecom House in Takapuna after Bridgeway Projects Ltd (Allan & Julie Webster) withdrew a High Court injunction to stop Andrew Tauber from buying the building.

Mr Webster was working towards a purchase on the morning of Friday 27 September with Paul Webb, now no longer a director of Bridgeway. Counsel for Bridgeway, Willie Akel, told Justice Tony Randerson in the Auckland High Court yesterday that GMO was to consider the offer and get back.

But, in the afternoon, Mr Webb went out with Andrew Tauber, “his very close & long friend,” and presented a separate offer to GMO. “At the same time the plaintiff’s files disappear. The plaintiff’s file is in fact with Mr Webb, and that’s going to be returned,” Mr Akel said.

After telling the judge the injunction application was withdrawn — “I spent 3 hours reading the stuff last night,” Justice Randerson responded — Mr Akel said costs had been agreed with Mr Webb & Mr Tauber, but not Mr Olliver.

To Mr Akel’s mention of a possible breach of fiduciary duty and breach of confidentiality by Mr Webb, the judge commented: “But all you had against Mr Webb was an opportunity to buy. You never had an agreement and were never likely to get one.”

The judge was told Mr Olliver had spent $24,671 dealing with the injunction. The parties will file memorandums on those costs.

Mr Webster, formerly a director of A1 Smash Repairs Ltd and Whyte Adder No 18 Ltd, is now director of Webster Properties Ltd and Wellshop Ltd and, with Julie Webster, of Christopher Allan Investments Ltd, Whyte Adder No 6 Ltd, Trojan Buildings Ltd, Robela Investments Ltd and Bridgeway.

Mr Webb, formerly a director of Bridgeway Projects Ltd, Summit Security Ltd, Pyrenees Ltd and Cityjet Ltd (the last 2 in receivership), is now a director of Chester Casper & Co Ltd with Gary Palmer.

Mr Tauber is a director of Auckland Apartments Ltd with Allison Tauber, Company Planners Ltd with Lisa Tauber, Honk Ltd, Honk Food Ltd and Honk Land Ltd, Princes Street Ltd (which proposes an apartment development on Princes St — click here for that story), Yogi Trustee Co Ltd and New Ltd.

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Points to defeat compulsory acquisition

Landco continues to work on its own Long Bay subdivision plans

Three points may conspire to defeat North Shore City and Auckland regional councillors’ desire to add to the Long Bay regional park by forcibly acquiring land held by private company Landco Ltd (Greg Olliver).

One is a requirement to show the proposed 44ha addition to the park — and therefore the proposed designation of that land and its consequent acquisition by the councils — is needed.The councils failed to act forcefully before, during the 40 years in which the Robinson family controlled the 198ha property behind the regional council’s 110ha park, and didn’t act in the time it took Mr Olliver to settle his purchase of the Robinson holding company, Durafort Investments Ltd.

The second is that the councils have seriously undervalued the four prime sites they want to take, according to Mr Olliver.He isn’t publicly putting numbers on them, just as the councils refrained from revealing their highest bid figure on Tuesday.

The third is that, once separate titles are issued for subdivision sites, sales could flow.Mr Olliver advertised the 2.5ha old bach site along the beachfront in March, seeking “25 well heeled beach bums” to buy home sites, and got plenty of responses.

Although he has been accused of trying to push the compensation price up, Mr Olliver said he had serious offers for that land, including an offer for the whole of the bach site.

The regional council wants that area plus some more behind it, totalling 4.26ha, to add to the regional park.

Councillors Margaret Miles (North Shore) and Bill Burrill (Region) said at a press conference at Long Bay on Tuesday they had had valuations done, but in response Landco had produced counter-claims, not valuations.

Wrong, Mr Olliver contended after his return to Auckland on Thursday. “We provided them with our valuation details. We’ve had it valued for what someone would pay for it today. They didn’t [provide valuations]. They just said their offers were at the upper end of valuations.”

Plenty of far higher offers, says Olliver

Mr Olliver told me last year he was a long-term developer. He said on Thursday: “If I wanted to sell the land, I can sell the whole to three parties for a whole lot more/ha than they [the councils] are offering. I’ve had more than a dozen offers. Theirs would be the lowest/ha, and they’re wanting the best as well.”

Landco was served on Thursday with designation notices under the Public Works Act, which would lead to compulsory acquisition if negotiation failed.

The two councils said the process required a three-month negotiation period. After that, the Land Valuation Tribunal would give a valuation which the councils would be required to pay.

Meanwhile, Mr Olliver continues to work on subdivision plans, which differ in material respects from the proposed structure plan the city council issued last October. He questioned the quality of the council plan then: “Their structure plan has Otehas on the ridge behind the beach.”

For the beachfront, he said, “we’re preparing an application at the moment for subdivision.”

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Cornerstone’s Sentinel sells fast

30-storey apartment block for Takapuna Village site

Half the apartments in Cornerstone Group Ltd (Rick Martin)’s 30-storey Sentinel tower in Takapuna were sold before the display unit opened on Saturday.

Cornerstone’s sales team began signing contracts with existing clients on Thursday and had 50 of the 120 apartments under contract by the end of the day.

Sales ranged from the cheapest, an 83m² 2-bedroom 2-bathroom unit on the lowest, 4th-floor level for $604,000, to a $3.675 million sub-penthouse on the 28th floor.

The Sentinel will be built on the old Takapuna Village site between Lake Rd, Auburn, Huron & Northcroft Sts in central Takapuna. The development complies fully with North Shore City Council planning requirements and a resource consent application will be lodged soon. It will have ground-floor retail, 3 parking levels and will be airconditioned.

Mr Martin said he initially expected the Sentinel to be 50% sold by the end of January and had a target to have it all sold by the end of April. “We’ll obviously be well ahead of that.”

Cornerstone has sold more than 560 North Shore & Rodney apartments worth more than $207 million in the last 18 months, including the 152-unit Nautilus tower in Orewa.

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Okura subdivision raises tension

Wetland covenant part of plan to chop 2.1ha in half

Both sides of an Okura subdivision application forced me to Rodney District Council’s proposed district plan 2000 to check the accuracy of their statements during the hearing last Thursday.

Fortunately the whole proposed plan is on the council’s website. It’s a pity both sides of the argument didn’t read bigger chunks at a time, instead of selectively pulling out pieces to suit their argument. Consultant planner Vijay Lala’s report for the council didn’t help either in its discussion of wetland subdivision which was irrelevant to this proposal.

And the council didn’t help an outsider’s understanding of the issues by advertising one start time, and starting the hearing a few hours earlier — though I suspect that, given the repetition in the sessions I was present for, I may not have missed much.

Real estate agent Richard Milne, who has lived on a 2.1ha lot at 16 Rodeo Drive, Redvale — just over the North Shore border into Rodney — wants to cut his property in two, keeping 1ha including the existing driveway, and incorporating a covenanted 4000m² of wetland in the new 1.1ha lot.

The council hearings committee completed its hearing on Thursday and expected to reach its decision this week.

New countryside living rural zone has no wetland provision

The property is in Rodney’s proposed countryside living rural zone, which the plan makes clear doesn’t include provision for subdivision on the basis of wetland protection.

Although I didn’t hear Mr Milne’s lawyer, North Shore councillor Wyn Hoadley, give her opening submissions, what she said in closing (after a hearty performance from her planning specialist, Graeme Parfitt) made me feel she was presenting a fragile argument.

She highlighted the 2000m² of bush protection (irrelevant to the section of proposed district plan applicable to the application, and irrelevant to a proposal based on wetland protection) and added in 1600m² of riparian protection.

ARC wetland definition “confusing”

The definition of wetland given in opposition by regional council ecologist Shona Myer “was quite confusing,” Mrs Hoadley said.

What I would have liked to hear there was how the Myer definition was confusing, because I found it one of the least confusing periods of the afternoon. Ms Myer found the wrong plants and other life forms for the designated area to be defined as wetland. Rather, she said, “I would classify it as riparian vegetation.”

In other words, she found the plants that grow beside a stream, not those of a swamp.

It was certainly less confusing than a key paragraph of regional council policy implementation manager Hugh Jarvis’ evidence on district plan requirements, where he put together two incorrect versions of two clauses in the proposed district plan, an irrelevant statement of what would have to be protected if the subdivision complied, and a conclusion out of all that that this would be a non-complying subdivision.

Mr Lala’s council planning report made it amply clear that under the operative district plan, plan change 55 for rural areas and the proposed plan, the lack of provision for subdivision based on wetland protection in all three documents made the proposal non-complying.

Sacred area to preservationists

Okura is virtually a sacred area to those who want to preserve one of the few parts of the Auckland region, and one of the few estuary/river areas, not to have been urbanised over a long period. A 1996 Environment Court judgment by (now retired but still very busy) principal environment judge David Sheppard & two commissioners declared that the metropolitan urban limit should move slightly north to sit between the Long Bay & Okura catchments.

Placing Long Bay inside the urban limit has embroiled the Shore council in a development-versus-extended park argument, while the Shore & Rodney councils have taken slightly different views to how urbanisation in Okura should be controlled.

Mr Milne’s property runs down to a narrow arm of the Okura River to the councils’ border, on the Rodney side. Some of the submitters opposing his subdivision proposal would be against any subdivision, as Mrs Hoadley suggested.

Jarvis wary of subdividers seeking easier ways

Mr Jarvis of the ARC, on the other hand, suggested a recent trend in Rodney for subdividers who have failed under the bush lot provisions to then resubmit their proposals “using the perceived less stringent requirements for wetland subdivision.

“ARC officers have visited a number of sites within the last few months which are seeking wetland subdivisions for riparian vegetation or modified ponds etc.

“ARC officers are concerned that the protection of such areas undermines the genuine protection of significant wetlands in the region and results in additional subdivision without benefit to the district.”

He gave scenarios of 464 new houses within the catchment under a 2ha minimum lot size, but 1189 houses if the minimum lot size was 1ha. (Across the river, in North Shore City, the riparian lots are all more than 4ha).

Area not urban though lots small, says Parfitt

Mr Parfitt, in his submissions, said several lots around Rodeo Drive were less than 2ha, but the area wasn’t urban “not because of the lot size but because all but one owner have used topography, bush, built back from the road… It confirms the effects-based approach: It is not section size that matters.”

He said the 2ha average lot size was a compromise, and it wasn’t possible to prove 2ha was “the right answer” for the catchment. While he said rules “only have a minor role to play in the resource management assessment,” with a tradeoff to achieve a positive outcome, Mr Parfitt said “the only rule in the district plan it [the Milne proposal] doesn’t comply with is the average site size. It complies with the minimum. The policies envisage subdivision below the 2ha level.”

Mr Parfitt drew a distinction in the 1996 court ruling that opponents of subdivision don’t make: The court didn’t find Okura “should remain rural,” he said. “It said it should not become urban. It’s countryside living.”

Jarvis emphasises 2ha as minimum

Mr Jarvis, on the other hand, said “long-term protection of the environment is dependent on preservation of the 2ha minimum.

“What the debate gets down to is how much additional development is appropriate to achieve positive outcomes in the catchment. To allow everybody to subdivide because they might improve it in some way will only increase the risk to the catchment.”

Under the proposed countryside living rural zone, the Rodney council has said subdivision can go down to an average 2ha. It has also stipulated conditions under which the minimum lot size can be 1ha (where the average doesn’t fall below 2ha and where — a point not made by Mr Parfitt in his closing submission — every subdivided lot below 2ha is paired with a lot of 2-3.9ha).

That pairing, importantly, isn’t offered in the Milne subdivision.

Philosophical divide

It’s easy to get het up about places like Okura — from the protective side because the drive to urbanise seems insatiable and must be stopped, while from the developer side the prevention of subdivision can be hugely expensive & time-consuming.

Rodeo Drive is as much a branch off a main road (East Coast Bays Rd) as it is a component of coastal ecology, so it has the subdivision element of general rural & near-motorway land as much as it has the sensitive element of feeding into an estuary.

An influence which is probably not considered fully by any of the participants in the legal process is the lawnmower cut: We’re too busy to cut the lawns, and the busier we get the less open space we can handle. So instead of the old 10 acres (4ha), 2ha became sufficient open space and now 1ha is becoming sufficient for extra-busy city people who live in the country.

Coatesville leads the way

The shrinking of section sizes at Coatesville bears strong similarities to what might happen in urban limit neighbourhoods like Okura. Coatesville is steadily on the way down from 4ha to 2ha to 1ha to suburbia, based on the higher price obtainable for smaller lots. It is deemed unfair, in that scenario, to deny a landowner the financial gain from subdivision — the environment, it seems to me, is excluded from consideration.

From that observation you can see the pressure that will be put on Okura, around the edges at first, and unusually in this case in one council area to bring pressure on zoning in the other. You can see the value put on land on one side of a watercourse (maybe only a seasonal creek) being higher than on the other, and pressure resulting.

The regional planning strategy is intended to rationalise thinking in this sort of combat terrain, but the adversarial system of justice we use just as easily creates a battle between the planners and those who want to bring change outside the planners’ structure.

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Hotel/apartment conversion for old AGC House

Planning consent, 13 September 2002:

City, 52-60 Victoria St West, Auckland City Council’s regulatory & fixtures sub-committee granted non-notified hearing & resource consent to Orient NZ Property (Victoria St) Ltd (Danny Chan & Phillip Joe) to convert the former AGC House into a 140-room hotel/motel/serviced apartment complex with ground-floor café/restaurant and retail tenancy.

The building has the AA office block as 1 neighbour, and is a few doors down Victoria St from the Sky City casino.

Orient NZ Property, a passive trust for a small group of local & overseas Taiwanese investors, bought the building from RJI Ltd (forerunner to Trans Tasman Properties Ltd) for $9.5 million in 1993 and put it back on the market in 1996.

AGC decided in 1999 to move down to Viaduct Harbour, into the City Markets building remodelled by Symphony Group. Symphony assumed responsibility for the rest of the lease, to 2003, on the Victoria St premises.

In AGC’s place, Orient filled its 11-storey building with language schools.

As an office prospect the building had a poor future, with small floorplates & outdated services.

The redevelopment will be a big change: it will get west & east-wing additions and 4 more floors on top. The ground floor will have reception & services, the first floor 5 studios, administration, staff café, health club gym & a roof terrace, the third to 13th floors will have 11 units each and the top 2 floors will have 7 units each.

Click to return to Auckland City consent activity 13 September 2002

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Consent conditions change enables Finance Centre breakup

Planning consent, 24 June 2002:

Finance Centre complex, (The Telstra Business Centre at 191-201 Queen St, the Simpson Grierson building at 88-96 Albert St, Brookfields House at 19-25 Victoria St West, and Durham House at 10-32 Durham Lane), NZ Growth Property Trust (Trans Tasman Properties Ltd) was granted approval by Auckland City Council’s planning fixtures sub-committee to change consent conditions so the complex can be subdivided into more manageable investment units.

Trans Tasman got consent in 1998 to close the foodcourt and turn that space over to extra parking. Under the new change, parking is allocated to the different buildings.

But, for the purposes of the district plan, the overall development remains a single site which can’t be dealt with in pieces without the council’s consent.

The complex was built by Chase Corp Ltd in the late 80s, and bought by Trans Tasman from the Japanese financiers for $80 million in 1996. The new arrangement will allow it to be subdivided into 4 new lots, in place of 2 lots, with each new lot tailored round 1 of the 4 existing buildings. There will be no physical change.

The present parking on the whole site totals 458 spaces, including 107 required to be for short-term public use. Parking is allocated to the buildings at 1:200m².

Total ground-floor area is 6335m², and total lettable floorspace (excluding parking) is 48,165m². Net lettable area (excluding parking) is 40,848m².

The Telstra Business Centre, on Queen St, has a 1350m² footprint and 17 floors (levels 7-23) with 790m² plates for a total 13,430m² of office space, and net lettable area of 17,529m², including retail space such as Hugh Wright’s menswear store and the vacant former Stock Exchange pit.

Brookfields House on Victoria St has a 725m² footprint, and net lettable area of 10,592m², including office floors from levels 7-16 at 660m², 2 other office levels and retail on 2 levels.

The Simpson Grierson Building on Albert St has a 1485m² footprint, net lettable area of 11,044m², including office floors from levels 7-21 at 780m².

Durham House has the former foodcourt, the parking entrance off Albert St, the parking, a commercial gym and some retail. Its net lettable area is 1683m².Click to return to Auckland City consent activity 24 June 2002

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