Fletcher Residential has won the right to build a huge new Auckland housing project on a controversial site at Oruarangi in Mangere.
A decision has just been issued by the Accord Territorial Authority, chaired by Leigh McGregor, allowing rezoning of the 33.4ha block of land next to the Otuataua Stonefields Reserve near Auckland International Airport.
Fletcher plans to build 480 new dwellings, largely single-level, and on 400sq m sections.
The project has been a focus for protest, with 300 people holding hands there in March in a bid to stop the development on what an archaeologist described as "the paddock next to Stonehenge".
But Lawyer Sue Simons for Fletcher described the vision for the project as "the creation of an affordable residential community that achieves quality environmental outcomes and recognises cultural values and associations with the area."
Special Housing Area status has already been conferred on the site.
Former Conservation Department regional heritage manager Dave Veart had told protesters in March that the land was of international significance. The foundations of houses and gardens using the area's natural volcanic scoria dated back 700 years to the earliest stage of Maori settlement, showing "incredibly intensive" agricultural land use over hundreds of years, he said.
Fletcher sought permission to have land at 545 Oruarangi Rd rezoned from future urban to a combination of mixed housing suburban, public open space-conservation and green infrastructure corridor.
The business, owned by NZX listed Fletcher Building, has agreed to retain lava caves that extend into its special housing area and will have a buffer zone zoned green infrastructure corridor immediately adjoining the housing area.
Fletcher's application was found to be generally consistent with plans for the area.
"Sufficient and appropriate infrastructure will be provided to service the qualifying development," the decision said.
"The land is currently zoned future development in the operative Auckland District Plan. In other words, under the provisions of both the operative plan and the proposed plan, the site is already earmarked for urban development," the decision said.