Archive | Land use

Fulton Hogan drops Huntly quarry from Stevenson purchase, Commerce Commission happy

The Commerce Commission has closed its investigation into roading & infrastructure construction company Fulton Hogan Ltd’s acquisition of Stevenson Group Ltd’s construction materials business, saying its concerns with the transaction have been addressed.

Fulton Hogan agreed to buy Stevenson’s construction materials business in May, intending to take full ownership of Stevenson’s 2 quarries & 4 concrete plants, transport, laboratory services and associated plant & equipment.

Fulton Hogan didn’t seek clearance under the commission’s merger regime, and the commission opened an investigation in June, primarily due to concerns the acquisition could reduce competition for the production & supply of aggregates (granular rocks, gravel or sand typically used in roading & construction) in Auckland & North Waikato. Fulton Hogan & Stevenson both own & operate quarries in Auckland & Huntly.

Commission deputy chair Sue Begg said yesterday Fulton Hogan had since agreed not to acquire Stevenson’s Huntly quarry as part of the transaction and it had now been formally excluded from the purchase.

“The decision to remove the Huntly quarry from the transaction addresses our concerns in this case. We are satisfied that Fulton Hogan’s purchase of Stevenson’s Auckland quarry assets is unlikely to substantially lessen competition, given the presence of other competitors in this market, and we have now closed our investigation.”

Stevenson’s focus has shifted to the development of its Drury quarry & land across to Auckland’s Southern Motorway, where it had 361ha of rural & quarry land rezoned in 2013 for a mix of industrial & business development.

Since then, Kiwi Property Group Ltd has bought 51ha at Drury to create a town centre, and Karaka & Drury Ltd (Charles Ma) has begun work on 2 residential developments at Drury, the first for 68ha and the second for 85ha, set to yield about 2700 homes plus a village centre.

Link:
Commerce Commission case register

Earlier stories:
15 June 2018: Commission opens investigation into Fulton Hogan’s Stevenson acquisition
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
30 August 2013: Drury South industrial area plan change & MUL extension approved
10 September 2017: Second round for Auranga precinct confirms Drury as major growth centre

Attribution: Commission & Fulton Hogan releases.

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Ameti busway plans release brings Pakuranga Plaza transformation back

Pakuranga Plaza owner GYP Properties Pte Ltd said at the weekend release of revised proposed plans for the Auckland-Manukau eastern transport initiative (Ameti) eastern busway means the company can finalise its own designs for redevelopment of the Plaza & its 4ha site.

Image above: Pakuranga Plaza when Westfield owned it.

GYP Properties, a subsidiary of Singaporean listed company Global Yellow Pages Ltd, bought Pakuranga Plaza, which sits at the junction of Pakuranga & Reeves Rds & Ti Rakau Drive, from Ladstone Holdings Ltd for $96 million in October 2014.

The listed company’s shareholders approved the diversification of the company’s core business to property investment, development & management in May 2015.

Mr Tan said: “We have been working on the Plaza redevelopment since we acquired the property, but until we had the final alignments with roading, and the bus interchange location & access points were locked down, it has not been possible to conclude our own designs.

“Masterplans incorporating significant residential & retail buildings together with commercial, accommodation & entertainment activities will be further developed over the coming months. They will be released once the resource consent process, currently anticipated to be sometime in 2019, is underway. However, we are pleased to confirm our 3 anchor tenants.”

Mr Tan said Countdown had confirmed, Farmers had renewed its leases and The

Warehouse tenure runs through to 2035.

“We look forward to participating in this transformation project from Plaza to town centre, and on delivering quality housing options with modern retail facilities that focus on services, entertainment and food & beverage, with strong linkages to community amenities.”

He said GYP Properties would engage with key stakeholder groups & the Howick Local Board over the next few months while its plans evolve.

Links:
Auckland Transport, Ameti project
Ameti eastern busway
3 September 2018: Designation approved for next stage of Ameti eastern busway
Pakuranga Plaza website

Earlier stories:
2 October 2015: 15-year plan to transform Pakuranga Plaza takes shape
17 October 2014: Stanley Tan buys Pakuranga Plaza

Attribution: Company release.

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A milestone for the city rail link project, and a start on the next major section

The 2-year task of reinstating Albert St began last week while, over at Britomart, excavation for the city rail link tunnel can now proceed at full speed.

Image above: Work underway on the tunnel at the intersection of Albert & Customs St West.

The first is an obvious milestone in the development of the rail tunnel under Auckland’s downtown business area because, for most of the time the project has been underway, pedestrians have been able to peer down.

Britomart is far more complicated, requiring the railway station building – the city’s former chief post office – to be jacked up to enable excavation for the tunnel that will cross under Lower Queen St, under the Commercial Bay tower under construction on the former Downtown shopping centre site, around under Albert St & up to Karangahape Rd and on to Mt Eden station.

The Albert St tunnel project in September 2017 (my photo above) and (below) in September 2018.

The Government-Auckland Council company in charge of the rail project, City Rail Link Ltd, in its latest newsletter out last Thursday, counts some major steps forward:

  • Albert St reinstatement starts
  • Excavation under the Albert/Customs St intersection paves the way for construction of the tunnel box sections that will eventually link the Albert St trench to the rail tunnels being built under the neighbouring Commercial Bay development
  • The Britomart load transfer is complete and tunnel excavation can proceed.

City Rail Link chief executive Sean Sweeney said backfilling of the trench which runs directly beneath Albert St will eventuate in the roadway being reinstated & returned to road users by late 2020.

Backfilling with 50,000m³ of materials – a mixture of crushed concrete, crushed rock, sand & flowable fill – will take until mid-2019 to complete.

The work is being completed by Connectus – the McConnell Dowell Constructors Ltd & Downer EDI Ltd joint venture delivering the city rail link C2 contract.

Under the Customs/Albert St intersection, excavations have reached the halfway mark in preparation for building a key section of rail link tunnel box.

The twin underground tunnels being built under Albert St will connect at that point with those that have been built under the adjacent Commercial Bay development site.

Excavation is also continuing with the installation of supports for the trench walls and the removal of an old stormwater pump chamber. Construction of the tunnel structure under the intersection is expected to start this year, with a full connection being made to Commercial Bay by mid-2019.

On the C1 contract in Queen St, Downer & Soletanche Bachy JV completed the weight transfer of the 106-year-old category 1-listed ex-post office heritage building onto a series of underpinning frames, which will protect it from damage while rail link infrastructure is built underneath.

The City Rail Link website is full of images & more detail on the project.

2 time-lapse videos on the link’s website show a 6-month sequence of the city rail link tunnel box being built underneath Albert St. One camera faces south, and the other faces northern Albert St (downhill).

Links:
Albert St milestone
Video: Latest look inside the Albert St trenches
Britomart tunnel excavation is go

Attribution: Company release.

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Dominion Rd argument raises the question: What are we trying to solve?

How do we get around Auckland? Badly.

How should we get around Auckland? The first answer is: Well. And the argument over how to get between the airport & downtown Auckland is a fine example of how not to achieve that.

Below, Infrastructure NZ chief executive Stephen Selwood sets out his view of how to set the course for a decision:

Stephen Selwood.

Lingering debate over the form of rapid transit to Auckland Airport reveals a lack of clarity about the role for light & heavy rail, and this issue must be resolved when the business case is released.

The public is understandably confused about the purpose of the Dominion Rd light rail project & its role within the wider transport system. They are also confused about the potential for heavy rail connections to & from the airport.

This is a symptom of a wider strategic issue around how heavy rail is to support the future growth & development of Auckland, given the significant investment in the central rail link currently underway.

Under standard practice, we would normally first ask what issue we’re trying to address – congestion, urban regeneration or access to the airport? – and then we would decide what investments are required.

With the decision to proceed with light rail effectively made before a business case has been developed, best practice has been diluted, but not the need to be clear about what we’re trying to achieve.

Is Dominion Rd light rail designed to reduce congestion, support urban development or provide a rapid transit link to the airport? Is it all 3 or something different?

If the purpose is to improve access to the airport, then the business case should demonstrate that light rail better serves this objective than alternatives, including heavy rail.

If the purpose of the project is to reduce congestion, then business case analysis must demonstrate improved travel times for general traffic commensurate with the investment being made by road users.

Alternatively, if the purpose of Dominion Rd light rail is to unlock & enable urban development, then the business case must present a co-ordinated land use plan indicating the residential & commercial property opportunity linked to the project’s delivery. This should include the rezoning which is required and the timeframes for development.

Importantly, if the objective is urban development, and if congestion & other transport benefits are not improved, then funding should be primarily sourced from urban development, rather than the National Land Transport Fund.

Targeted rates, capital gains taxes & land acquisition via an urban development authority are all options which should be assessed.

A strong, transparent business case, clarifying why the project is being delivered, its costs, benefits & how it will be funded & delivered will address public confusion over the reason for light rail and resolve the question of light or heavy rail to the airport.

Attribution: Stephen Selwood, chief executive Infrastructure NZ.

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Penlink prospect gets real

Penlink, a proposal dating back to the 1980s start to development of Gulf Harbour at the end of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, is an integral feature of the urban development of the Hibiscus Coast, 30-40km north of downtown Auckland.

Image above: The Auckland Transport/NZ Transport Agency map of the north-eastern infrastructure plan. Penlink is dotted line 3 at right.

Gulf Harbour has progressed, thousands more houses have been built on the peninsula, new business areas have sprung up at Silverdale, at the start of the peninsula, and the Millwater subdivision has spread from there across to State Highway 1.

But that integral link – once to have been 2 lanes each way from Redvale, across Weiti Forest land and over the Weiti River to Stanmore Bay – was again deferred in June, when Auckland Council pushed it back to 2028 in its long-term plan. It also shrank from 4 to 2 lanes.

The 7km Penlink road is consented and would reduce, by about 50,000 vehicles/day, the nearly 130,000 vehicles/day that travel through the nearby Silverdale business area to get to-from the motorway.

The one concession to the rising traffic congestion that has been a consequence of deferred action has been to introduce peak-hour use of the median strip at the start of the main peninsula road to double main-direction flow.

3-year campaign by Barnett

Enter Michael Barnett, chief executive of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, who has campaigned for 2 years to get Penlink built, after an approach from the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board.

Mr Barnett won an assurance from Transport Minister Phil Twyford in April that, if money could be found outside the coffers of the Government & Auckland Council, the toll road could be built.

Last Friday, Mr Barnett said it could be done: “An unsolicited bid by an international group to establish a joint venture with a NZ construction company to undertake the Penlink toll road project as a BOOT – Build, Own, Operate, Transfer – has been lodged with the NZ Transport Agency.

“The offer is to provide the majority of the estimated $400 million capital needed to build a 4-lane tolled Penlink road – including bridge over the Weiti River, busway, cycleway & possibly park-&-ride – recovering all revenue on an extended concession and transferring back to Auckland Council for free at the end of the concession.”

The proposal is from China Tiesiju Civil Engineering Group Co Ltd, a subsidiary of China Railway Group Ltd, which in turn is a subsidiary of China Railway Engineering Corp, a company listed in Hong Kong & Shanghai and controlled by the Chinese Government.

In June, Mr Barnett wrote: “It’s crazy that Auckland Council can give a low priority to a project that has one of Auckland’s highest benefit:cost assessments – 3.5 for a project costing $348 million – meaning that for every dollar spent it will generate nearly $3.50 in economic benefit.”

“It shows we have a flawed system. Here we have a new government wanting more public transport, walking & cycling, but then goes for a 2-lane option. Our recent survey which government & council are well aware of shows that the public want a 4-lane road with a public transport option.

“Meanwhile the announcement bringing forward Penlink has already fuelled property development in Silverdale & on the Peninsula, with a number of long-delayed apartment projects towards Gulf Harbour now underway.

“And gridlock on Hibiscus Coast Highway continues to get worse, with 10km traffic queues between the interchange with State Highway 1 & Orewa and also along the peninsula to the Whangaparaoa shopping centre.

“Construction & engineering consultancies have advised me that there is a construction void in the market; they have little or no work and which ‘ready to go’ Penlink is ideal to fill.”

The next move is up to the NZ Transport Agency.

The agency & Auckland Transport have had Penlink in their sights for years, and produced a presentation on their websites last year showing its role in diverting traffic away from Silverdale.

Links:
Chamber of Commerce, Penlink page
Auckland Transport, Penlink presentation January 2017
NZ Transport Agency, Supporting growth – delivering transport networks, Silverdale, Wainui & Dairy Flat

Disclosure: I live on the peninsula, right where Penlink would start.

Attribution: Chamber of Commerce releases, NZTA & Auckland Transport.

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Port company names first tenant for Waikato hub

Ports of Auckland Ltd named the first tenant yesterday for its new 33ha freight transport hub at Horotiu, just north of Hamilton.

Open Country Dairy Ltd, 77% owned by Talley’s Group Ltd and New Zealand’s second largest exporter of whole milk powder, will take occupancy of the facility next year.

Ports of Auckland chief executive Tony Gibson said the earthworks were complete and building had started.

The Waikato hub – or inland port – is Ports of Auckland’s fourth, following developments at Wiri in South Auckland, Mt Maunganui & Longburn, Manawatu.

The Tainui iwi’s Tainui Group Holdings Ltd is establishing a much larger inland port in Hamilton, intended to cover 480ha of a total 820ha of rezoned space at Ruakura.

Mr Gibson said the Horotiu hub was part of Ports of Auckland’s strategy to support regional growth with freight hubs next to rail in regions that generate significant volumes of exports.

“The freight hub network will contribute to lower freight costs, reduces carbon emissions and offer a wider range of shipping services to North Island exporters & importers. The hub provides future customers with a unique opportunity. Businesses will be able to have their own sites with customised warehouse design & layout.”

Until the rail connection for Horotiu is built, freight will travel by road to Hamilton and then by rail to Ports of Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour sea port.

Attribution: Company release.

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Auckland home consents hit record

Building consents were issued for a record 12,959 new homes in Auckland in the year to August, 22 more than in the June 2004 year.

Nationally, 32,759 consents were issued for the August year, just short of the 32,851 in the June 2004 year but well short of the record 40,025 in the February 1974 year.

Statistics NZ construction statistics manager Melissa McKenzie said today: “The 2004 peak in Auckland homes consented was mainly driven by growth in the number of apartments. This new record is also driven by townhouses, flats & units, and retirement village units.”

Consents nationally for new homes in August were down 2.9% compared to August last year at 3075 (3166).

August consents in Auckland were up 9.6% to 1298 (1184).

  • More detail to follow.
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Equinox wins consent for Peninsula at Orakei Bay Village

Equinox Group Ltd has obtained resource consent for its luxury residential development beside the Orakei railway station, in the Orakei Bay Village at the foot of Remuera – 12 years after getting involved in the original project as financier, and a year after transforming the small peninsula with a village retail precinct.

The new feature, The Peninsula, will have 32 apartments & penthouses priced from $2.7-13 million, looking back to the city across Hobson Bay.

Image above: Artist’s impression of The Peninsula at Orakei Bay Village.

They’ll be built at the most northerly point of the village, which has bars, eateries, boutique shopping & service stores and is anchored by Farro Fresh & Kings Plant Barn.

The design is for apartments of 150-660m², including covered lanais & balconies. Colliers will market the project and construction is intended to start next year.

The whole site at 228-246 Orakei Rd is partly freehold, partly leasehold, and the early intention over a decade ago was to build over the railway tracks, incorporating council-owned carparking land.

Equinox Group director Kerry Knight said yesterday the plans have been scaled back to remove the complexities of the previous requirement for development over the train tracks & a land swap with the council: “We are now only building on our freehold land, and The Peninsula is the premier waterfront location for residents in Orakei Bay Village.”

The original development proposal was by Tony Gapes’ Redwood Group Ltd. After he failed to get the project through all the council hoops, and the complications of leasehold interests, Equinox took charge of the project, but put it on hold in 2015 after further issues with Auckland Council & Auckland Transport made funding impossible.

The site for the Peninsula, right on the water’s edge, is where King’s Plant Barn was previously located.

Earlier stories:
14 March 2014: Orakei Point plan change over last hurdle
1 April 2011: Gapes’ Orakei Pt plan change approved
11 June 2010: Tramco throws Orakei Pt development scheme into disarray
9 June 2010: Orakei Point development far from fait accompli
17 January 2010: Council notifies Orakei Point plan change, but commercial agreement missing
9 October 2009: Orakei Point gets council-sponsored plan change
7 October 2009: Council pushes ahead with Orakei Pt plan as locals reiterate congestion concerns
16 September 2009: Latest Orakei masterplan gets a better reception
29 April 2009: Orakei criticism muted this time
15 July 2008: Braying at a developer’s consultant no way to demonstrate council leadership
11 July 2008: Mayor launches blistering attack on Redwood at presentation to councillors as Gapes holidays in Fiji
17 June 2008: Gapes unveils Orakei Pt masterplan
18 March 2008: Redwood’s Orakei consent declined week after master plan agreement reached
10 March 2008: Mayor gets agreement to intervene in Orakei consent process
7 February 2007: Community board supports residents’ group opposing development, wants comprehensive plan done for Orakei Rd
10 December 2006: Now it’s Tony Gapes’ turn to propose Jacobsens site development

Attribution: Company & agency release.

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Institute of Building looks for young voice on national council

The NZ Institute of Building has created a new role on its national council for a young practitioner advisor, charged with providing a millennial voice. Expressions of interest close on Monday 1 October.

The institute is seeking registrations of interest from young construction practitioners who fit the following profile:

  • Ideally under 30
  • Ideally located in Auckland, Wellington or Christchurch
  • Employed full-time in the construction industry
  • Either trade-qualified or holding a construction-focused qualification
  • Considered a strategic thinker, and
  • Can point to a career already marked with accomplishments.

The requirement is to attend 6 one-day council meetings/year, unremunerated except for travel costs.

Attribution: Institute release.

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Argument erupts over speaking rights on marinas

Auckland Council’s management of its non-existent marinas policy is going from bad to worse.

At the council planning committee’s meeting a fortnight ago, chair Cllr Chris Darby allowed opponents of marina sales time to speak in the public input slot but rejected the speaking request from Empire Capital Ltd property & development manager David Boersen for being too late with his request.

Anyone wanting to address that committee on marinas was going to be late with their request, because the council didn’t post the relevant material on its online agenda until the morning of the meeting.

One group that did provide input to the planning committee, the Auckland Marine Users Association through chair Richard Steel, applied the previous Thursday to speak, but had less than 24 hours to prepare its presentation because of the lateness of the marinas report.

At the weekend, Mr Boersen was listed to address the council’s finance & performance committee tomorrow about the planning committee’s marinas recommendation – and the Marine Users Association has fired off a letter to the mayor & all committee members, arguing that his request shouldn’t have been granted.

Mr Steel said in his objection it was inappropriate for Mr Boersen to address the finance meeting without an opportunity for input by other interested parties because the first part of the recommendation (to hold a workshop) was a planning committee matter, and the second part (not to proceed with the sale of any marina land pending completion of the forward plan) wasn’t a finance committee agenda item.

Mr Steel wrote: “If the finance & performance committee meeting wished to consider this recommendation on 18 September there is no reason why it should not have been on the main agenda and other interested parties given the opportunity to speak as a part of public input.”

Against the association’s less than 24 hours to prepare, Mr Steel said Mr Boersen had been given a fortnight.

Mr Steel said the finance committee should decline Mr Boersen’s speaking request, or allow other interested parties to speak at the same meeting.

My comment:

  1. Public input at the council isn’t confined to what the council has on its agenda.
  2. The 2 committees are essentially the same people (all councillors, a possible change in Independent Maori Statutory Board representation). People wanting to provide public input are sometimes sent to a committee which the council thinks is more relevant, but not always.
  3. The public input section of council meetings is not about debate, although more than one side might address the same topic at the same meeting.
  4. Auckland Council owns marinas and needs policies & strategies on both ownership & operation, and therefore on sale.
  5. Separately, the council needs policies & strategies on waterfront use, including marinas it owns & those it doesn’t own.
  6. Empire Capital, as an owner of marinas, has been advancing development scenarios for several years. It’s sensible for the company’s position to be understood.

Earlier story:
4 September 2018: Council wades into deep water in marinas debate

Attribution: Committee agenda, Marine Users Association.

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