Archive | Land use

Judge overturns year-old highrise consent next to heritage substation because of non-notification

High Court judge Rebecca Ellis has set aside a year-old resource consent for a 10-storey 39.5m building Equinox Capital Ltd proposes to build in central Wellington because the owners of a 2-storey heritage-listed former substation next door weren’t notified.

In her decision issued last Wednesday, Justice Ellis wrote: “In summary, I consider: (a) Sydney St Substation Ltd should have been given limited notification of Equinox’s resource consent application; (b) there was a material error in the 14 October 2016 decision not to publicly notify Equinox’s resource consent application; and (c) there were material errors in the 14 October 2016 decision granting Equinox’s resource consent application.

“There have been no matters raised which persuade me I should not exercise my discretion to grant relief here. I therefore make orders setting aside the notification decisions & the substantive resource consent decision, all of which are dated 14 October 2016.”

The dispute concerns buildings (heritage & proposed) a few doors from the courthouse, on what was Sydney St until 1993 and is now Kate Sheppard Place in Thorndon, a street noted for its “Elizabethan & Jacobean” architecture.

The category II heritage building is the old Sydney St substation at 19 Kate Sheppard Place, which has historical significance as one of the first substations constructed to distribute electricity in Wellington after the Mangahao hydro power station began operation in 1924.

Justice Ellis said it also had “some architectural significance due to what has been described as its ‘quirky mixture of architectural styles’”.

The lower of its 2 storeys originally housed the transformers & other substation equipment. The upper level has always been a home. “That unusual & experimental combination of utilitarian & residential design is regarded as adding to its architectural interest. A heritage covenant was placed on the building in 2011.”

In 2013 the Government sold the substation building to Sydney St Substation Ltd, owned by Trevor & Jillian Lord. They renovated & strengthened the building to some acclaim, with the assistance of a Wellington City Council grant. The entirety of the building is now used for residential purposes.

Justice Ellis concluded: “There can be no real doubt that the substation’s heritage value was highly influential in the decision to purchase it, and to renovate it at some expense. To suggest that an adverse effect on the substation’s heritage value does not, equally, adversely affect its owner seems unattractive. So if there is a minor adverse effect on the heritage value of the building there is a minor adverse effect on Sydney St Substation Ltd.

“Even if there is some flaw in that logic, there remains the further & more substantive (“anticipated development model”) issue. The views I have expressed about that strongly support the conclusion that the adverse effects on the owner of the substation (in terms of the matters of which discretion is restricted under rule 13.3.4, namely design, external appearance, siting & placement of building mass) have been understated and are at least minor.

“On any of the above analyses, therefore, Sydney St Substation Ltd was an affected person and should have received limited notification of Equinox’s resource consent application.”

In contrast with the judge’s view, the council notification said: “There are no affected persons in respect of this application (sections 95B/95E). It is noted that neighbours have registered an interest in works occurring on the subject site. Neighbour interest does not deem them to be affected parties under the tests of the act or qualify as special circumstances under the act in this case.”

The judge said most other buildings in the vicinity were multi-level office blocks “of limited street appeal”. The Lords sought judicial review of Wellington City Council’s approval of resource consent “authorising the construction of another such building immediately adjacent to the substation, on a site which is presently a carpark. In short, Sydney St Substation Ltd says that the council was wrong to grant the consent and also wrong to even consider it on a non-notified basis. They say that the substation will be significantly adversely affected by the proposed construction.”

Equinox (Chong Du Cheng & Kerry Knight) has plans for 63 apartments, a 39-room hotel with ground-floor lobby and ground-floor commercial space with a total floor area of 32,422m².

An important factor in the judge’s consideration was that the proposed building would exceed the height limit of 35.4m in the “low city” area, set out in the district plan.

According to the district plan guidelines, “Where a new development adjoins a heritage building that is 4 storeys or less, its height should be not more than one storey above the heritage building, over an area extending approximately 5-8m along & back from the street frontage at the common boundary with the heritage building”.

Link: Substation judgment

Attribution: Judgment.

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Council counts over $100 million/year in procurement gains

Deputy mayor Bill Cashmore says Auckland Council achieved $106.1 million in procurement benefits in the last financial year.

Cllr Cashmore, who chairs the strategic procurement committee, said on Thursday the council was a significant purchaser of goods & services and had started to deliver impressive results from process improvements.

“It’s an area where we are doing more to both save money & deliver sustainable benefits within our community. We’re doing this by teaming up with council-controlled organisations when we go to the market, reducing our costs in areas such as recruitment & software maintenance and through new technology that delivers greater efficiency.

“Last financial year, $29.5 million of additional value/year for the next 5 years was generated through our new maintenance contracts. 88% more trees will be pruned annually and significantly more weed control delivered across the region.”

Cllr Cashmore benefits included “sustainable procurement”, which meant leveraging off purchasing arrangements to deliver tangible social, economic & environmental benefits. One example is the Te Auaunga Awa (Oakley Creek) project, which saw the regeneration of one of Auckland’s longest urban streams, flowing from Hillsborough through Mt Roskill, Owairaka & Waterview to the Waitemata Harbour. The project also saw 17 young Aucklanders recruited into training.

“Our procurement approach is maturing and it’s great to see these results being delivered for our communities & ratepayers. There is a lot of potential for the council to use its purchasing power wisely and deliver broader benefits to our communities. We will continue to build on these benefits.”

Attribution: Council release.

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Kaipara election dates set

Kaipara’s election to replace mayor Greg Gent will take place from Friday 26 January to midday on Saturday 17 February, which means the postal vote will close on the first day the election can be held.

Mr Gent, elected last October when an elected district council resumed control after 4 years of management by Government-appointed commissioners, announced on Monday he’d resign in November.

The council said today Mr Gent’s resignation would take effect on 15 November, 5 days before summer election rules come into play.

“Under the Local Electoral Act, where a vacancy occurs before 20 November 2017 the by-election cannot occur before Saturday 17 February 2018. Under this scenario, nominations would open Friday 24 November and close at midday Friday 22 December. The voting period would be from Friday 26 January through to midday on Saturday 17 February, conducted by postal vote.

“The public notice of the result would be Wednesday 21 February  and the newly elected mayor could take office at that time. The estimated cost for the by-election is $38,000. The bulk of this cost is for the production & distribution of the mailer & voting document.

“If the newly elected mayor was an existing councillor then they would have to resign the councillor role and this would trigger an additional vacancy & by-election. The cost of this is likely to be around $20,000.”

Related story today: Kaipara mayor resigns after a year

Attribution: Council release.

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Kaipara mayor resigns after a year

Kaipara mayor Greg Gent.

Kaipara mayor Greg Gent announced on Monday he intended to resign after the council meeting on Tuesday 14 November – 13 months after an elected council took over from Government-appointed commissioners.

He said he’d decided to resign due to unspecified personal reasons. His resignation will mean a by-election is required, but it can’t be held until February.

The Kaipara District Council said deputy mayor Peter Wethey would assume all the responsibilities of the mayor from Mr Gent’s departure until the by-election.

Mr Gent, a Ruawai dairy farmer with substantial business & corporate governance interests, was a director of New Zealand’s largest co-operative business, Fonterra from 2001-11 and chaired Northland Dairy Ltd & Kiwi Co-op Dairies Ltd before Fonterra was formed. He still chairs Dairy Holdings Ltd, has chaired the Southern Cross Health Trust since 2014, is a director of NZ Institute for Plant & Food Research Ltd and was a member of the Northland District Health Board from 2010-15. He was independent chair of Pengxin NZ Farm Management Ltd from 2013-October 2016, and resigned as a director of FMG Insurance Ltd on 17 August. He was made an officer of the NZ Order of Merit in 2012.

Mr Gent chaired the 3-member review team that led to councillors resigning in 2012, when the commissioners took over, and said in a pre-election statement: “That gave me a unique insight into council, particularly around the systemic failure of governance. I do not want us to slip back into the hole that we have spent the last 4 years climbing out of.”

He also said at that time: “The role of mayor will require me to reduce my current portfolio, which I am prepared to do.”

He gave up one board seat at election time and one since.

Mr Gent was not surprisingly criticised by the Mangawhai Ratepayers’ & Residents’ Association & its chair, Bruce Rogan, for his role in the appointment of the commissioners, who opposed every attempt by the association for redress over the imposition of rates to pay for the Mangawhai Ecocare sewerage system after its cost blowout was exposed. The district council secretly borrowed $58 million for its capital cost and Parliament passed a Validation Act as the association was heading to court for a judicial review.

Mr Rogan stood unsuccessfully against Mr Gent for the mayoralty last year.

Attribution: Council release.

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Statistics House demolition confirmed

CentrePort Ltd confirmed yesterday that Statistics House in Wellington would be demolished because of damage sustained in last November’s Kaikoura earthquake, now that insurers have decided the building is not economically viable to repair.

CentrePort will apply to Wellington City Council for consents to safely demolish the 5-storey office block. Chief executive Derek Nind said: “We’re pleased to have final certainty on the matter and will start planning for the building’s removal, working with our tenants, neighbours & other key stakeholders for its safe demolition.”

CentrePort is still working with its engineers & insurers on the status of the BNZ building.

Government Statistician & Statistics NZ chief executive Liz MacPherson welcomed an end to the uncertainty: “This announcement by CentrePort means we can draw a line under our past connection with Statistics House. Stats NZ staff have been progressively moving on, both physically & mentally, from Statistics House after the quake 11 months ago.

“We will be forever thankful that the quake happened just after midnight last November when nobody was in the building, rather than at midday during the work week.”

She said Statistics NZ was fully insured and was still working with insurers to determine a settlement. Staff have occupied other buildings in central Wellington since late 2016 and have leases in place for at least another year.

The Government Property Group is looking more broadly at accommodation for Wellington-based agencies, including Statistics NZ.

Attribution: CentrePort & Statistics NZ releases.

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Monthly building consents up on a few spikes, annual growth sluggish

The building consent figures for new homes issued on Friday were a comparative bright spot. Full figures including comparisons with last year are at the foot, below what I hope is an interactive graph.

Statistics NZ (which now calls itself Stats NZ) said 30,736 new homes were consented in the August 2017 year, compared with previous peaks of 33,251 in the June 2004 year and 40,025 in the February 1974 year.

Stats NZ said: “Monthly building consents for new homes reached a 13-year-high in August 2017, driven by a spike in apartments & retirement village units in Auckland.”

First, it’s not a record.

Second, it’s not enough.

Third, pricing remains askew.

The 3166 consents for new homes were up by 404 on the previous month and by 332 on the previous August. The increases involved several “spikes”, none of which involved standalone housing.

Of Stats NZ’s 4 categories for new homes:

  • Standalone house consents were up by 125 from July and 10 from last August to 2025
  • Apartment consents were up by 17 from July and 152 from last August to 384
  • Retirement village unit consents were up by 150 from July and 223 from last August to 295
  • Suburban townhouse & flat consents were up by 112 from July but down by 53 from last August to 462.

The total floor area was up 14.6% to 550,000m² from 480,000m² in July & 7.2% from 513,000m² last August (Stats NZ said 7.1%), on a number of consents up 14.6% from the 2762 in July and up 11.7% on the 2834 last August. I used to calculate precise shifts in size & costs until Stats NZ explained that the staging of consents for apartment developments, but not the precise matching of costs, meant my calculations were wrong.

In theory, more homes for a smaller increase in floor area would mean the average size/dwelling has fallen, which makes sense given increases in more intensive living quarters, but it’s too hard to calculate from these figures.

Consents for houses in August were just behind those for May (2025 versus 2039) and well ahead of any other month in the last year.

The intensive sectors

The apartments picture looks strong in the last 2 months (367 in July, 384 in August), and the retirement village segment of the market had its biggest month since November 2015 (295, versus 321 in that standout 2015 month).

The intensive housing sector that’s been strongest is suburban townhouses & flats, running well above 300/month in every month except 2 (December & January last summer) since January 2016, and topping 500 twice. Last August was one of those 2 plus-500 months, so the comparative decline to 462 this August is not exactly a fall in the overall context.

Context for the 13-year high

Statistics NZ’s comparison with a monthly figure 13 years ago also needs to be put into context.

Over the last 2 years, total consents for new homes have fallen below 2000 only in January (so twice), and this is the second time they’ve exceeded 3000 (3005 last November, 3166 this August).

If you check back to my February 2005 story (link below), you’ll see consents for new homes that January fell below 2000/month for the first time since February 2003 – another 2-year run of plus-2000s.

The added ingredient: the population rises

Over the 5-year census period 2001-06, the New Zealand population rose by 273,000 to 4.18 million (up an average 54,600/year). It’s now at 4.821 million (up an average 63,600/year over 10 years, or 16.5%/year more than during 2001-06).

At an average 2.7 persons/household, the extra population since 2006 needed an average 23,600 more houses/year, compared to 20,200/year more in the previous 5 years, so a 15.3%/year increase in construction required.

Those averages come with bumps, declines & cycles, and for several months the net inflow of migrants alone has been above 70,000/year. The total population has risen over the last 3 years by 83,000, then 100,000, and this year by 120,000 – and that most recent increase equates to demand for 44,400 homes.

The regulatory & banking responses

Not surprisingly, that huge excess of need over construction encourages speculation. The New Zealand answer, via regulators, has been to create measures discouraging speculation. Construction has been slow to rise.

As I wrote 2 months ago: “Consents for new homes exceeded 30,000/year in the 12 months to October 2016, the first breach of that round figure in 11 years, and there the altimeter has stuck.”

The latest annual figure for consents is 30,736, up just 3.7% on the previous 12 months and enough to cover the population rise of 2 years ago (assuming nothing is demolished and every home newly consented is built).

More intensification, or more difficult?

A feature of the latest consent figures is the 24.8% rise in apartment consents for the last 12 months, from 2409 to 3007. At the bottom of the global financial crisis downturn, 673 apartments were consented in the 12 months to August 2012.

Figures up to February 2015 are not easily compared to those before, because Stats NZ went from 2 categories – apartments in one, including retirement village units, all other housing in the other, seemingly including suburban townhouses & flats in the second category. From March 2015, the statistics were broken into the present 4 categories – houses, apartments, retirement villages, townhouses & flats.

In the 12 months to January 2005, consents were issued for 6065 apartments, up 23.5% on the previous year, in the second 12 months of an immigration spike. That figure was probably for apartments including retirement village units. Since then, intensification has been advocated more & more strongly, promoted, and the tally for all 3 intensive categories for the last 12 months is 9497 units, up 12.5% from 8439 in the previous 12 months.

The questionmarks

But there is a big questionmark over how many of those consents will turn into completed units, because of regulatory clampdowns on investors (including foreign investors) and impacts on first-homebuyers, including banking changes as both the Australian banks & banks in New Zealand (the big 4 owned from Australia) deal with tighter capital adequacy ratios.

One impact hard to spot from outside the finance sector is the size of apartment that a bank will lend on. A small upward shift in bankable unit size can make a one-bedroom unit impossible to buy, and can increase demand for 2-bedroom units, cutting the value of the smaller units (but not necessarily making them a buyable product) and increasing the value of the larger units.

Equally, there are questionmarks over how much immigration will be allowed, depending on who gets to become the NZ Government, and how much emigration there might be as Australia’s economy picks up, particularly in Melbourne construction & the mining sector.

Auckland consents up but slowing

Stats NZ started providing regional consent figures in 1991, and said on Friday 10,265 new homes were consented in Auckland in the August 2017 year, well short of the peak 12,937 in the June 2004 year.

The latest 12-month tally is up 4.2% from 9851 in the previous 12 months and up 19.2% from 8615 in the 12 months to August 2015. So, still rising but slowing, while demand continues to surge.

[The graph below is interactive on the Stats NZ website, and they’ve provided the code to make it interactive here, but it appears I have to use some special fingers as well as thumbs to make it work. Loads of comparative statistics lie below it.]

The national consent numbers for August and the year to August, compared to August last year, and the latest 12 months compared to the previous 12 months:

Total consents for new homes: 3166 (2834), up 11.7%; 30,736 (29,627), up 3.7%
Total values for new homes:  $1.37 billion ($1.18 billion), up 16.2%; $13.12 billion ($12.06 billion), up 8.7%
Standalone homes: 2025 (2015), up 0.5%; 21,239 (21,188), up 0.2%
Apartments: 384 (232), up 65.5%; 3007 (2409), up 24.8%
Retirement village units: 295 (72), up 310%; 1830 (2084), down 12.2%
Suburban townhouses & flats: 462 (515), down 10.3%; 4660 (3946), up 18.1%
Standalone share of consents: 64% (71.1%), 69.1% (71.5%)
Suburban townhouses & flats share of consents: 14.6% (18.2%), 15.2% (13.3%)

Auckland residential consents fall 28.8% for month

Consents for new homes in the Auckland region fell 28.8% this July compared to last July, but rose by 4.5% for the year. Consents for the month rose in 6 wards and fell in 7.

Auckland residential consents for August, compared to August last year, and the latest 12 months compared to the previous 12 months:

Region: 1184 (970), 10,265 (9851)
Rodney: 92 (72), 1024 (953)
Albany: 249 (242), 3036 (2273)
North Shore: 19 (35), 500 (519)
Waitakere: 36 (68), 544 (593)
Waitemata & Gulf: 150 (49), 971 (1061)
Whau: 16 (73), 296 (303)
Albert-Eden-Roskill: 115 (117), 798 (632)
Orakei: 14 (21), 248 (357)
Maungakiekie-Tamaki: 164 (45), 601 (344)
Howick: 73 (42), 394 (585)
Manukau: 48 (20), 432 (441)
Manurewa-Papakura: 115 (112), 952 (1015)
Franklin: 93 (74), 969 (775)

All construction for August compared to August last year, and the latest 12 months compared to the previous 12 months:
Total: $2.127 billion ($1.745 billion), up 21.9%; $19.9 billion ($18.68 billion), up 6.6%
Non-residential: $706 million ($534 million), up 32.3%; $6.375 billion ($6.163 billion), up 3.4%%

Earlier stories:
28 February 2005: Auckland consents tumble in January, average construction cost surges
28 January 2005: Residential construction value up 92% in 4 years, average construction cost up 24%
30 July 2004: Residential growth continues at phenomenal rate in June

Attribution: Statistics NZ tables & release.

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A new understanding of seasonal adjustment

For most of the 18-year lifespan of this website, I’ve steered clear of using Statistics NZ’s seasonally adjusted figures, after attending a seminar where a senior statistician admitted they didn’t know how to deal with Easter.

I also steered clear of US statistics altogether when I discovered the US Bureau of Census & Statistics (now with a similar but slightly different name) used seasonal adjustment on a figures done on a sample base – double jeopardy.

Although you might think this annual event, Easter – with a date known long into the distant future – is something about which everything can be predicted reasonably accurately, and after which accurate comparisons can be made, apparently this was not so.

If they don’t know that, I thought, I’m not going to give you seasonally adjusted figures because they’ll just be guesswork.

Government Statistician Liz MacPherson.

But as a postscript to the monthly building consent figures on Friday, Government Statistician Liz MacPherson added this missive:

Upcoming changes to seasonally adjusted & trend series

“We are improving the way we calculate the seasonally adjusted & trend series in building consents issued. These changes will be introduced in the September 2017 release (published on 31 October 2017).

“All seasonally adjusted series will now include an adjustment for the timing of Easter. This will account for when Easter moves between March & April. This change will affect the entire time series.

“We are also updating the way we treat outliers in the trend for the value of non-residential building consents. Currently, we exclude consents with a value of $50 million or more from the calculation of the trend. This threshold will be increased to $100 million, backdated to 2006.

“Currently, these outliers are only excluded from the monthly trend. For consistency, we will now also exclude these outliers from the quarterly trend.”

About Liz MacPherson:

The Statistics NZ website says: “Liz is passionate about evidence-driven decision-making and sees her role is to ensure New Zealand decision-makers at all levels have access to quality information.

Her view: “Statistics are only valuable if people use them. We collect & analyse them, and it’s vital we make them available in the ways people want them.

“We want the outside world to know what data we have and to use it. If we understand our customers’ needs, we can produce more relevant products & services that are used to make better decisions.

“If we understand our suppliers’ environment, we can better manage their delivery of data and negotiate solutions.

“If we understand what drives our stakeholders, we can collaborate for success.”

After senior roles over 20 years at the Department of Labour, the Ministry of Economic Development and the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE), Ms MacPherson was appointed Government Statistician & chief executive of Statistics NZ in August 2013.

Every month, as you can see this month, Statistics NZ adds to the changes and the supply of information improves, despite the difficulties the organisation has faced following the Christchurch earthquakes, and again as a result of last year’s Kaikoura quake, which rendered Statistics House in Wellington unoccupiable.

Here’s one of those improvements introduced in July:

We’re making Stats NZ data easier to find

“This release is also available on our beta site, where we’re testing new formats for information releases & news. Help us make data easier to find by visiting the site, reviewing the content that matters to you, and sending us feedback.”

A change last month was to provide interactive charts. One I’ve used today comes with the code to make it work on this website as well as Statistics NZ’s – but, for the moment at least, the interactivity doesn’t work here:

Attribution: Statistics NZ releases.

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Notification sets Whenuapai on course for urbanisation

Auckland Council will publicly notify the proposed plan change tomorrow to rezone 124ha at Whenuapai from the future urban zone to urban zones. The submission period will close on Thursday 19 October and independent commissioners will hear submissions in the first half of 2018.

In the map: The central purple zones are for light industry. The yellow to brown zones are for a range of residential intensities.

It’s the first step in urbanisation of rural Whenuapai and is in the first batch of plan changes under the new unitary plan, now operative in part. Others approved for notification by the council’s planning committee on 5 September were for extension of the Auranga subdivision at Drury and for Fletcher Residential Ltd’s subdivision at the Three Kings quarry.

The plan change for stage 1 development in the south-east corner of Whenuapai provides for 124ha of light industrial land and capacity for 4-5000 homes.

Planning committee chair Chris Darby said a large amount of infrastructure was required for the greenfield area, and the plan change aimed to ensure infrastructure was in place to support all development.

Issues it addresses include managing stormwater run-off and ensuring there are opportunities to enhance the degraded stream & coastal environment, mostly through planting along streams.

The proposed plan change would also protect an historic heritage area in Clarks Lane and an anti-aircraft battery site on Spedding Rd.

Assuming plan change approval, stage 1 construction is likely to occur between 2018-28.

Stage 2 of the larger Whenuapai area is constrained by the new Northern Interceptor wastewater pipeline due to be built in 2026, and transport infrastructure outlined in the supporting growth strategy, which is necessary to support development. A further plan change will be required for stage 2.

Cllr Darby said: Notification of the plan change for stage 1 is a positive sign, showing that we’re moving from the planning phase to actually making land available for real homes that people can live in.

“It follows successful structure planning for the area – the first in a number of structure plans that will eventually pave the way for up to 137,000 new homes in north, north-west & southern greenfield areas.”

Attribution: Council release & committee agenda.

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Second round for Auranga precinct confirms Drury as major growth centre

Drury, 35km south of Auckland’s city centre, is the new centre of activity in the Auckland region, with construction of between 6100 & 10,800 homes anticipated on 1000ha there within 10 years.

That’s a potential population explosion of 30,000 people in an area that was all greenfields 2 years ago, apart from the small Drury township which, at the 2013 census, had 1200 homes and a population of just over 3500 – up by only 140 in 6 years.

Image above: The masterplan for the first stage of Auranga.

A planned, and very large, piece of it is the industrial expansion by Stevenson Group Ltd from its quarry in the hills east of State Highway 1 across to the highway. The company secured planning approval in 2013 to rezone 361ha of rural & quarry land for a mix of industrial & business development.

In 2015, Charles Ma’s Karaka & Drury Ltd had its 68ha Drury precinct 1 proposal approved as a special housing area, projecting its whole development would yield 1000-1500 new homes over 7-9 years, with the first homes ready for occupation by the end of 2017. The land was rural, but zoned future urban under the proposed Auckland unitary plan.

Kiwi Property Group Ltd spotted Drury’s potential and bought some of 51.3ha at Drury in April, with agreements to secure the balance, to create a new town centre next to Stevenson’s site. Kiwi’s 3 greenfield sites are next to the junction of the Southern Motorway, Great South Rd and the North Island main trunk railway line.

Auckland Council’s structure plan map for Drury-Opaheke. The future urban-zoned land, including Auranga 1B, is in yellow. Stevenson’s Drury South industrial precinct, in purple, is at the lower right of the map.

Plan change accepted for notification

Last Tuesday, Mr Ma’s company was at Auckland Council’s planning committee seeking approval to extend its Auranga subdivision from the initial precinct 1, and to rezone the 84.6ha extension as mixed housing urban & mixed housing suburban, providing for about 1300 more homes. The committee accepted the private plan change, which will now be publicly notified & opened to submissions.

There was potential for a hiccup, because the council had already turned down Mr Ma’s request to rezone part of this land in 2015 for 2 main reasons: concerns about the impact of the proposed development on existing transport infrastructure, and the need for a structure plan to be prepared for the wider area.

Structure & catchment plans are the bane of developers’ lives because they invariably follow the developer’s bright ideas – the country has not been mapped out in precise structure plans well in advance of development dreams yet to be dreamt.

The council plans set limits which are often inconvenient, slow in arriving & expensive. For both developer & council, those plans are a cost incurred well before any likely return from development, and subsequent rates payments.

In this case, the council has embarked on its own structure plan process for a wider area running from Drury up Opaheke Rd to Papakura. However, the report to Tuesday’s committee meeting by principal planner Barry Mosley & planning manager Celia Davison acknowledged that Mr Ma’s company had lodged its private plan change before the council embarked on its own Drury-Opaheke structure planning process and it wouldn’t compromise that process, as the land subject to the private plan change request was relatively confined, the proposed land use was the most appropriate and wouldn’t foreclose the consideration of other appropriate outcomes.

“In short,” the council planners wrote, “the council’s ability to pursue a full range of options for the Drury-Opaheke area through the structure plan process will not be constrained by the private plan change request.

“Secondly, bulk infrastructure is already proposed to service land within the adjacent Drury 1 precinct, and preliminary assessments indicate that this bulk infrastructure can be logically & efficiently designed to service the Auranga B1 land & parts of the wider Drury area.”

The council planning committee adopted its refreshed future urban land supply strategy on 4 July, confirming its 1016ha growth target at Drury west of State Highway 1. The council expects land release in that wider area to start in 2022 north of State Highway 22, and in 2028 south of State Highway 22.

Ma to leverage off infrastructure he’s creating in first precinct

Charles Ma at the launch of Auranga stage 1 in October 2016.

Mr Ma’s company intends to leverage off the infrastructure he’s creating in the initial Auranga area to develop the proposed B1 private plan change area.

The whole area requires new trunk wastewater sewerage, with connecting branches. A wastewater pump station is being built at 207 Bremner Rd in the Drury 1 precinct, designed to service a population of 10,000, including the residential component of Stevenson’s Drury South development and its Drury South industrial precinct.

In addition, a site is being reserved for a Watercare Services Ltd pump station that can service additional dwellings and enable Watercare to develop a wider wastewater network.

Watercare & Veolia Water Solutions Technologies NZ Ltd (which took over Papakura District’s water supply before the super-city was created in 2010) are working through a number of possible solutions to ensure security of water supply for Drury. The council planners said: “At this point there is reliance on one bulk supply point via connection to water sourced from the Waikato River. A possible solution to ensuring a backup water supply is to establish a second bulk supply point with connection to a Hunua water source.”

They said transport infrastructure upgrades would be required to enable development within the Drury 1 precinct, and Mr Ma’s Karaka & Drury was finalising an infrastructure funding agreement to enable delivery of upgrades, which will also largely unlock the potential of the Auranga B1 land.

The Karaka & Drury company intends to provide all necessary stormwater infrastructure within Auranga B1.

The council planning committee approved a structure planning programme for Drury-Opaheke on 1 August, to be completed within 12 months. Key strategic issues to be considered in that include:

  • the location of & appropriate number of centres
  • transport infrastructure, including the location & number of train stations
  • the location & mix of residential & commercial/industrial land; and
  • the location, size & function of parks, reserves & community facilities.

The council planners said in their report aspects of the Auranga plan change would need to be tested through the submission & hearings process, but added: “The scope & extent of the changes sought do not, in themselves, threaten the purpose & principles of the Resource Management Act when considered at this preliminary stage. The private plan change request is therefore considered to be in accordance with sound resource management practice.”

Local boards differ on timing

Papakura Local Board members didn’t support the Auranga plan change request now as they considered it premature and that it would place significant pressure on existing infrastructure: “They have also expressed concerns that the request, if accepted (and when combined with current development existing & proposed in the wider area), would adversely impact on the Drury motorway exchange & infrastructure.”

However, the Franklin Local Board supported the proposed plan change in principle, saying it was a logical extension of the existing special housing area & Drury 1 precinct. Franklin board members were also pleased it sought to develop a sustainable new community in an area that is well placed to deliver new centres, jobs & infrastructure improvements, and it could be progressed alongside work on the Drury-Opaheke structure plan. The Franklin board said the council & Mr Ma should seek a partnership approach to make the 2 processes complementary.

Council development programme office general manager John Dunshea told the committee water from the Flanagans Rd bulk supply point would also pass through the Auranga land to the Hingaia Peninsula, which had been constrained by the lack of bulk supply.

Cllr Daniel Newman said Hingaia had already been live-zoned from future urban when it didn’t have the infrastructure to take new housing, but he expected the whole area east of State Highway 1 to face challenges “sooner than in a decade” – Drury East in particular.

“That will make this footprint in this part of Auckland attractive to the market and we will have to do structure planning to implement that.”

Planning committee agenda, Tuesday 5 September
11, Auckland unitary plan (operative in part) – private plan change request from Karaka & Drury Ltd – Auranga B1

Earlier stories:
7 April 2017: Kiwi Property plans new town centre next to Stevenson’s Drury development
31 October 2016: Work starts on 3 striking special housing area projects
24 August 2016: Work set to start after fast approval for Auranga special housing area at Drury
4 July 2015: 2 large special housing areas for Franklin
30 August 2013: Drury South industrial area plan change & MUL extension approved
4 September 2012: Drury South plan changes notified

Attribution: Council committee meeting & agenda.

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Council starts public process for city centre & waterfront planning refresh, plus 3 subdivision plan changes

Auckland Council’s planning committee agreed yesterday to a refresh programme for the city centre & waterfront, but it will be 10 months before the final version of it is decided.

It’s also complicated by requirements evolving for the America’s Cup yachting contest to be held in Auckland in 2019, and where the estimated 30,000m² of land for the bases plus water spaces for the yachts might go.

The large programme of works for city centre & waterfront would be implemented under a review of the original central business district & waterfront plans completed in 2012.

But first the councillors & Independent Maori Statutory Board members have to put their money caps on, in their roles as the finance & performance committee, to prioritise works. That committee’s scheduled to meet (twice) in a fortnight.

And then the whole shebang has to go out to public consultation early next year as part of the council’s long-term plan review, returning to the council for signoff just before the start of the new financial year on 1 July 2018.

3 plan changes & a tidy-up under the new unitary plan

A second novelty yesterday came in the form of 4 plan changes – the first batch under the super-city’s unitary plan, which combines an updated composite of all the district plans of the councils 7 territorial predecessors and also includes an updated regional policy statement.

The unitary plan is still not fully operative, with parts of it before the courts. 2 of the proposed changes to it before the committee yesterday were private – from Karaka & Drury Ltd (Charles Ma) to extend its Auranga subdivision at Drury, and from Fletcher Residential Ltd, recognising an agreement with opponents of the company’s Three Kings quarry residential development.

The other 2 plan changes were brought by the council, one for its rezoning of land at Whenuapai from future urban so development can start on part of it over the next 4 years, with later stages set for development starting in 2028.

The last change, from the council, is to correct technical errors & anomalies discovered in the unitary plan.

  • You can check the detail in the refresh and the plan change proposals through the links below. I’ll roll out articles on each of them, and yesterday’s debate, over the next few hours.

Planning committee agenda, Tuesday 5 September
9, City centre & waterfront planning refresh
11, Auckland unitary plan (operative in part) – private plan change request from Karaka & Drury Ltd – Auranga B1
12, Auckland unitary plan (operative in part) – private plan change request by Fletcher Residential Ltd – Three Kings 
13, Auckland unitary plan (operative in part) – proposed plan change – Whenuapai 
14, Auckland unitary plan (operative in part) – proposed plan change – administrative plan change – to correct technical errors & anomalies

Story, 1 September 2017: Grand downtown & waterfront plans raise the question: The money?

Attribution: Council committee agenda & meeting.

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