COMMENT -‘Development had supporters’

A property developer puts his case for a 71-unit residential development in Cockle Bay despite having been refused resource consent by commissioners last month. The applicant Box Property Ltd has appealed the decision.

Our proposal for this site was supported by a number of very experienced town planners and urban designers (from private practice and council).

Within the council, we are aware of only one urban designer who was steadfastly opposed to the development.

Our planning and legal advisers do not believe the decision by the Independent  Commissioners accurately reflects the intent of the integrated residential development provisions (IRD) within the unitary plan. The issues are complex and it is not our intention to litigate this through the media.

The contentious site on Sandspit Rd. The reality is no one likes the disruption of development in their neighbourhood, be it roading, infrastructure or housing, says the developer. Photo Nick Krause

What we will say however is that all Aucklanders are exposed to the rapid growth of the city’s population (50 percent in the last 20 years).

Currently, the Auckland urban area has a shortfall of 50,000 homes and projections are that a further 400,000 homes will be required over the next 20 years.

The reality is no one likes the disruption of development in their neighbourhood, be it roading, infrastructure or housing. However, the plan to accommodate the Auckland urban area’s rapid growth has been determined and it is towards a city with a quality compact urban form that allows opportunities for more intensive living and working environments and for more housing to be built around areas of activity and close to good transport options.

Auckland Council has obligations to plan for this growth under the National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity.

Local authorities are required to prepare a housing and business development capacity assessment and to regularly monitor market indicators, including price signals, to ensure there is sufficient development capacity to meet demand.

What we are seeing come into play at Sandspit Rd is anticipated in the Policy Statement; Ideally, urban planning should enable people and communities to provide for their social, economic, cultural and environmental wellbeing through development while managing its effects. This is a challenging role because cities are complex places; they develop as a result of numerous individual decisions, and this often involves conflict between diverse preferences.

The Howick Ward is part of Auckland City and with its coastal setting, beaches, generous areas of parks and green space, good schools and community facilities, it is a desirable place to live. The council is investing significantly in improving infrastructure, roading and public transport (for example the AMETI Eastern Busway).

The idea that the Howick Ward is out of bounds for intensification is not equitable or sustainable. The concept of IRD’s was born from the independent hearings panel in response to a submission by Ryman Healthcare for retirement villages to have special exemptions in order for retired people to be able to remain in their communities.

The panel decided to broaden the definition, rather than hand retirement village developers a competitive advantage.

As a result of this decision, we are now able to broaden the mix of owners including typically, first-time homeowners, families who will appreciate the proximity of Howick College and Cockle Bay School and retirees who will appreciate the benefits of apartment living without facing the erosion of their equity under the retirement village model.

To conclude, there is a process which we will follow prior to this appeal proceeding to the Environment Court. We will enter into mediation with the council and submitters in an effort to agree on possible concessions which may be acceptable to all parties.

David Jans

Box Property Ltd