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Current as of 28/09/16 07:39PM NZST
Property editor of the NZ Herald

Plans for $1.2b quarry house scheme uncertain

Plans for $1.2 billion of new residences in the Three Kings Quarry in Auckland are up in the air.

While the Environment Court has issued an interim decision which asked Fletcher Building to address a string of issues, Auckland Council has adopted the Fletcher proposal into the Unitary Plan.

Greg McKeown of Three Kings Community Action and a former Auckland councillor who is standing in this election, wants the court decision to rule and opposes the Fletcher plan being in the Unitary Plan.

But Steve Evans, Fletcher Building residential and land development chief executive, says nothing is clear because neither process is concluded: the plan is not operative and the court decision is interim. Until the two processes are completed, no one will know which rulebook applies, Evans said.

But McKeown wants the interim court decision to reign.

"We've got two decisions: one from the Unitary Plan - which gives Fletcher everything they want and leaves things low in the quarry - and another from a full bench of the Environment Court which says bring the land up, connect that with the town centre, connect it with the current soccer field, take apartments off the soccer field and then have regard for the volcanic landscape.

"It's really a more balanced decision between building more houses and building something that's gong to be a great asset for generations in the future," McKeown said of the Environment Court ruling.

We're continuing to work in the quarry, filling it in. We would start with building works as quickly as we possibly can. What's clear is that Three Kings is an important site.

Steve Evans, Fletcher Building residential and land development chief executive

Evans does not agree.

"The Environment Court has not ruled. It's only issued an interim decision which has allowed the parties to respond before we go back again. We're waiting on the court to come back to us with the time frame for judicial conferencing, or expert conferencing or mediation or what-ever pathway. The interim judgement or process was an opportunity for others to comment on what was said in court.

"We're continuing to work in the quarry, filling it in. We would start with building works as quickly as we possibly can. What's clear is that Three Kings is an important site," Evans said.

Asked to respond the court's decision saying that Fletcher advisers "have been amending their proposal on the hoof as issues emerged", Evans said he did not regard that as criticism.

"If we were amending it as a result of what we heard in court, absolutely. We try to respond where we can where there's a solution. We continue to want to consult and listen to the neighbours and they said fill the quarry to the surface but the judge said that's not the right solution," Evans said.

McKeown opposes the number of residences Fletcher plans.

"The problem with the Fletcher proposal is they build eight, nine, 10-storey apartments around the wall of the quarry which is out of scale with the environment. These apartments run a length of over 700m and form in essence a large wall which cuts off the rest of the community from the open space that people want access to.

"Fletchers are talking about 1200 to 1500 apartments. The Environment Court is talking about 800 to 1200. That's moving in the right direction," McKeown says.

- NZ Herald

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