November 30 deadline for Auckland's biggest new housing scheme

The Environment Court this morning ordered mediation or conferencing for parties fighting over the future of Auckland's biggest new housing scheme.

Environment Court judges Brian Dwyer and Jeff Smith today set November 30 as the new date when the parties are due report to report to the court on the outcome of their discussions over the Three Kings quarry where hundreds of apartments and terrace houses are planned.

On July 29, following a hearing which ran from June 13 to June 24, the court made an interim decision that a string of issues must be addressed before Fletcher Residential could develop its new $1.2 billion housing estate in the quarry, worked for decades.

Read also: Court demands change for Fletcher's Three Kings quarry

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In a victory for opponents, the court had already asked that 13 separate issues be dealt with, ranging from where Fletcher had proposed to build to how it dealt with open space and sports fields.

A list of issues the court wants addressed includes:
• recognition of protection of volcanic features,
• view shaft issues,
• building form issues,
• appropriate rules on delivery of new sports fields,
• minimum dwelling sizes.

The South Epsom Planning Group and Three Kings United Group went to court against the council and Fletcher over large-scale redevelopment of the Winstone quarry into a new residential hub.

Today, Bill Loutit appeared for Fletcher Residential and Robert Enright for the Three Kings United Group, South Epsom Planning Group and the Auckland Volcanic Cones Society.

Counsel for a string of other parties also appeared including Auckland Council, Auckland Transport, Housing New Zealand Corporation and the Minister for the Environment.

Greg McKeown, Three Kings Community Action spokesman, at the quarry. Photo/Brett Phibbs
Greg McKeown, Three Kings Community Action spokesman, at the quarry. Photo/Brett Phibbs

November 30 is when planners and experts for the parties are due to report back but Judge Smith said he would be disappointed if arguments remained over ground levels in the quarry or a lava lake.

Enright sought that environment commissioner Jim Hodges be appointed to the mediation process now set to take place.

Steve Evans of Fletcher Residential.
Steve Evans of Fletcher Residential.

Judge Smith agreed that a commissioner would lead to a better outcome because it was the court's experience that resolution of issues was far more likely if such a person was appointed, he said.

Judge Dwyer opened proceedings this morning referring to the July 29 written interim decision which said: "Fletcher advisers have been amending their proposal on the hoof." The judge said he was not taking a swipe at the business.

"I am the author for the 'on the hoof' comment but it was not intended to be critical in any way," the judge said.