Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

Developers to fight knockbacks

Companies behind huge residential schemes in Milford and Hobsonville heading to the Environment Court.

Community opposition has halted the Milford housing towers but developer NZ Retail Property Group has vowed to challenge the decision. Photo / Supplied
Community opposition has halted the Milford housing towers but developer NZ Retail Property Group has vowed to challenge the decision. Photo / Supplied

Developers of two huge residential schemes knocked back by authorities in Auckland last week are vowing to fight for their right to build and are heading to the Environment Court.

A scheme to build towers of up to 16 levels around the Shore's Milford Shopping Centre and another for about 250 retirement units at Hobsonville were rejected, about the same time Auckland Council promoted plans to hugely intensify the city.

Both applications were made under the current district plan which allows for less intensification.

The new unitary plan allowing more density does not kick in until 2016, even though Auckland Council wanted it operative when it was fully notified in September.

Mark Gunton, chairman and founder of NZ Retail Property Group, vowed to challenge the decision to bar the Milford blocks and Norah Barlow, Summerset chief executive, said an Environment Court case was planned over the knockback on its $80 million Hobsonville project.

Milford Centre commercial general manager Campbell Barbour said the decision proved there was a real barrier to the housing intensification city leaders talk about.

Independent hearing commissioners David Hill, Noelene Raffills, David Mead and Janine Bell rejected a private plan change after strong community opposition claimed the Milford blocks would be out of scale and character.

The commissioners said submitters generally accepted the idea and present reality of three- to four-storey development within the residential areas and four to six, perhaps even eight, in the business area. But taller than that was not accepted.

The area must accommodate change, further housing and business development consistent with regional policy direction. But it would be unhelpful if the first example was seen so negatively because that could frustrate or dampen future initiatives aimed at achieving the overall regional policy, the commissioners said.

The Herald reported two years ago how changing the North Shore District Plan would allow the 250 apartments in three blocks that exceed the present zoning's 9m limit. The buildings would be between eight and 15 levels.

Norma Bott and Debbie Dunsford, Milford Residents' Association co-chairs, praised the outcome. "We believe this is the right decision. It is both logical and fair."

On the Summerset case, the council told the company last week that although the development would have positive effects on the wider community, it did not meet existing landscape and heritage standards.

Barlow said Summerset had worked hard to be respectful of the coastal site and would appeal the ruling in the Environmental Court. "Auckland needs housing, this is a great location, a beautiful site, and we want to make the best of it," she said.

The decision was disappointing, but would not affect Summerset's build rate of 200 units this year and 300 units by the end of the 2015 financial year. She has invited people to the opening of Summerset Falls at Warkworth on Friday.

Turned down

Towers around Milford Shopping Centre
*Cluster of multi-level towers proposed
*Planning commissioners said no
*Environment Court appeal planned

Big Hobsonville retirement village
*NZX-listed Summerset wanted permission
*Auckland Council said no
*Environment Court appeal planned

- NZ Herald

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