Developer scales down Orakei plan

By Craig Borley

The "Shanghai Surprise" has gone from Orakei Peninsula - replaced by a proposed six-storey development that will go out for public consultation over the coming weeks.

The Redwood Group that wants to build on the peninsula has scaled back its initial plans after fierce criticism over proposals for a 13-storey site tabled in June.

Orakei residents and some councillors baulked at the earlier high-rise option, with councillor and current city development committee chairman Aaron Bhatnagar calling it a "Shanghai Surprise".

Three new plans will now be presented to the public, with the developer's favoured model including a floor space of 88,000sq m - which is down from its initial drive for 100,000sq m.

The new second and third options provide progressively scaled back alternatives, of 74,500sq m and 69,000sq m accordingly.

The preferred proposal is still bigger and higher than the district plan's allowance of 79,000sq m floor space and a 15m, five-storey height limit.

That means a council plan change would be needed to allow it.

The proposal maintains the public amenities included in the originally planned development.

These include public access around the Point's foreshore - most of which is currently fenced off - two parks, boardwalks, a jetty, and the realignment and landscaping of Orakei Rd.

That realignment would involve the road being widened from its current two lanes to four.

A strip of cafes, restaurants and boutique shops is included - part of 10,000m of retail space included in the development. Another 10,000sq m of commercial space is included.

The project also retains the proposed covering of the train lines to form an enclosed station.

Objectors to the development have cited the peninsula's volcanic origin and the development's inability to go ahead under existing planning guidelines as its main faults.

Speaking at yesterday's city development committee meeting, representatives of the Orakei Residents Society said a development incorporating less than 30,000sq m of floor space was better suited to the site.

They said the needs of a few developers should not usurp the wishes of the greater Orakei population.

But councillors responded by saying the existing law's allowance of up to 79,000sq m of floor space made suggestions of a development less than that limit redundant. Public consultation will include an attachment on the proposed development being included in Hobson and Eastern Bays wards' editions of the council's City Scene newspaper.

Information will also be available on to the council's website.

Public feedback will be delivered back to the development committee in December, with a decision on which, if any, of the three proposals will be chosen as the master plan to be made early next year. Formal and widespread public consultation would then follow.

Redwood Group development director Andrew Showler said the new option was economically feasible and was the result of ongoing consultation with the council, the Auckland Regional Council and residents.

The development couldn't possibly please everybody, he said, but the present proposal was the best chance of keeping most people happy.

- NZ Herald

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