Anne Gibson

Anne Gibson is the Property editor of the NZ Herald

Unitec's housing bid stuns

Cathy Casey said she was shocked at Unitec's submission.
Cathy Casey said she was shocked at Unitec's submission.

Unitec wants to squeeze dozens of new residences on to the northern end of its Mt Albert site in a scheme which has stunned local representatives.

Cathy Casey said she was shocked at Unitec's Unitary Plan submission to Auckland Council this week, outlining how it wants to generate money from its vast 53ha site with a huge new compact residential development.

Peter Haines, Albert Eden Local Board chairman, is also worried.

"It's a very aggressive approach," Haines said.

"This is a major planning change with only limited consultation or input from the local community," he said. "There are impacts on the business communities of Pt Chevalier and Mt Albert."

Lawyer Francelle Lupis at Russell McVeagh submitted Unitec's 176-page scheme.

"By unlocking the enormous untapped commercial potential of Unitec's land asset, Unitec will create and maintain an endowment fund that will allow Unitec to achieve its goal of becoming a world-leading technical institute," the submission said.

"Unitec's vision for the Wairaka site will provide high-quality residential intensification."

Casey said people had been blind-sided by the plan and she feared for the Mt Albert town centre and the effects on the area between Carrington and Great North Rds and the North- Western Motorway.

"This is one of the prime pieces of open space in the area.

"What the Unitary Plan has done is put dollar signs in people's eyes , " she said.

The submission refers to funding issues and the unlocked potential of the land.

"The building portfolio is inefficient, with most no longer being appropriate for the education that Unitec needs to deliver," it said.

"Many of the buildings are in poor condition or have significant seismic risk, with Unitec simply not being in a financial position to keep up with maintenance responsibilities or strengthening requirements."

- NZ Herald

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