A $250 million development planned for a site near Takapuna beach appears a step closer after the city's top planning official gave his opinion.
Roger Blakeley, Auckland Council's chief planner, indicated support for turning the suburb's strip shopping to face the beach.
"In principle we are excited about their ideas of opening up development to the beachfront rather than turning their backs on the wonderful view. We are discussing with them how their proposal can integrate with council's wider aspirations to improve The Strand," he said.
On Saturday, John Copson of Crown Group revealed his vision for the 1ha site he owns, 53 to 73 Hurstmere Rd. He wants five buildings on the site, arranged around a central outdoor area, with wide promenades between Hurstmere Rd and The Strand to open the suburb's link to the sea.
Copson's development, which he plans to start in 2014, would have 186 apartments selling from $1.2 million, 460 carparks, a business hotel, shops, cafes, restaurants and other retail aspects. He said he wanted the suburb to become vibrant again.
Jeremy Whelan of Ignite Architects said the plan was transformational.
"This project is the big swing shift to get Takapuna going," he said, criticising "gun barrel" alleys between Hurstmere Rd and The Strand and planning rules which resulted in "wedding cake" architecture, where buildings were stepped back in tiers to comply with setback and height-to-boundary provisions.
But Chris Darby, chairman of the Takapuna-Devonport Local Board, said he was concerned about Takapuna.
"My worry is that following the repositioning of Takapuna as a metropolitan centre, becoming part of the city-fringe, getting identified for priority spend and all that underpinned by robust planning guides like the Takapuna Strategic Framework and subsequent precinct plans ... that we sit on our La-Z-Boy chairs, watch the waves come in and miss the boat on creating a quality living, learning and earning centre. I do not think Takapuna should be pitched as a sleepy seaside suburb."