Dick Bellamy: Three Kings quarry avoiding consultation process

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Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

The Three Kings quarry proposal is not the way decisions should be made.
Anne Gibson's article of February 4 provides details of Fletcher Building's proposal to develop its Three Kings Quarry site. At 34m below road level, this is the largest hole in central Auckland. It is now being filled at a relatively slow rate and the company proposes to fill it partially and to develop it to a high density.

For intensification to work, a co-operative approach is required in which landowners, developers, council planners and the local community work together. The co-operative process takes time, but pays dividends. Even more time is taken by adopting a litigious approach involving appeals and court appearances. So with these factors in mind, the Puketapapa Local Board invested significant funds to initiate a council-led precinct planning process.

So why has Fletcher Building's scheme generated such a level of dismay and concern in the community and among local political leaders? It's because the company has, out of the blue, proposed its own precinct plan and presented it to the community as a fait accompli.

The development area is the Three Kings explosion crater, defined by its tuff ring. Within this area, land is controlled roughly equally by six parties: Housing New Zealand, Auckland Council, Department of Conservation/iwi (the reserve land), Fletcher, Antipodean Properties (owners of the current commercial centre) and private residential owners.

The council-led work is half completed and is about to enter phase two, where detailed alternative options are to be considered.

The sensible outcome would be for a precinct plan overlay to be prepared and then inserted into the Unitary Plan as a council-initiated Plan Change. That would specify the desirable course of restoration and development of the quarry and other areas of surrounding land. It's really important to get a high-quality outcome from this development and that will require some care to be taken with the process.

But now one landowner, Fletcher, has announced its own scheme. As presented by Australian and American planning advisers, it seems the community is now expected to accept the proposal and agree to exchange valuable reserve land to facilitate its commercial interests. This pre-emptive strike will undercut the precinct planning process through the lodging of a Private Plan Change. From a consultative, all-party approach, we now have one party presenting a "take it or leave it" proposition.

Is Three Kings just another case of poor communication, or is it a case of an entrenched culture of corporate arrogance? Shouldn't a company that is increasingly dependent on large publicly funded infrastructure projects at least strive to keep the community and their political representatives on side?

The current precinct planning process should be allowed to continue. The company should put its Plan Change ideas on hold to allow that goal to be achieved.

- NZ Herald

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