A controversial "10-storey cascading apartment" development on a disused quarry site in Auckland has been given the go-ahead, much to the chagrin of the local community board.
The decision by a panel of commissioners appointed by the Auckland Council means the development can begin in the plush central suburb of Mt Eden, creating up to 1500 homes.
The Puketapapa Local Board has vowed to fight the "poor" decision and says it's disappointed the council didn't consider an alternative plan for the former Three Kings quarry site put forward by landscape architect Richard Reid.
"We find it astonishing that a major land transaction involving public land worth many tens of millions of dollars may proceed with no thorough consideration of the options, and we note that the option that is proceeding is based solely on the proposal tabled by the developer at the beginning of the process," said a statement issued by four members of the board, Harry Doig, Julie Fairey, David Holm, and Michael Wood.
"Many Aucklanders who care deeply about our volcanic landscape will also be alarmed to learn that the proposal approved by Council, which builds around the flanks of Te Tatua a Riukiuta - Big King - has not had a landscape assessment completed.
"At a time when Auckland is preparing a world heritage status bid for our maunga it seems extraordinary that council would approve a plan that involves large buildings up against Big King's edge, while ignoring a development plan put forward by one of New Zealand's leading experts in the rehabilitation of volcanic landscapes."
The board said it was disappointed local bodies like itself were cut out of the decision-making process.
Meanwhile, Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith has welcomed the move.
"The Three Kings site is in an ideal location for a good quality, well-designed housing development. It is close to the city centre, key transport routes, parks, amenities and shops, and in an area that is in high demand by future residents."
Parts of the site were designated as a special housing area, under accord signed between the government and the council earlier this year.
But because of the "10-storey cascading apartment building" proposed for the site, the project could not be expedited.
"This development will be a vibrant urban community housing up to 4000 people across different types of housing, including apartments and terraced housing," Dr Smith said.
The large-scale development is in the hands of Fletcher Residential Ltd and has required protracted land and zoning processes.
Dr Smith congratulated the builders, the council and the commissioners for recognising the project's merits, as the government remained committed to boosting housing in the city of sails.
"We are continuing progress on our programme to facilitate housing on Crown-owned land, with the first of the sites under the initiatives gazette for state housing purposes last week.
"The next steps include our planned second phase of Resource Management Act reforms, and I intend to announce a further tranche of special housing areas with mayor Len Brown before the end of the month," Dr Smith said.
Public consultation took place earlier this year, followed by a review by the council-appointed independent commissioners.
Auckland deputy mayor Penny Hulse said she was pleased to see progress on the "most significant brown-fields development in Auckland".
"The Three Kings development will provide up to 1500 new homes and is exactly the sort of development this city needs and wants. It will provide high quality intensification and will put Auckland firmly on the journey to becoming a compact city."