Ryman Healthcare, New Zealand's biggest retirement village owner and operator, has just won the right to build a vast new Devonport village on Auckland's North Shore.

Independent hearing commissioners have granted resource consent for the huge Wakakura scheme, despite strong community opposition.

NZX-listed Ryman applied to build 195 independent living apartments, a 120 hospital or care beds facility and 78 serviced suites on the site, which is in the Narrow Neck/Ngataringa Bay area.

Plans show blocks up to six levels high, with basement carparking.


The big vacant 4.2ha site once had navy housing on it but is now owned by Ngati Whatua's Whai Rawa commercial arm and Ryman has struck a 150-year lease of the land.

Iain Rea, a resident who opposed the scheme and is part of the Ngataringa Bay Action Group - formed to influence the project - expressed disappointment about the outcome but said the organisation was yet to meet to discuss it and issue a formal statement.

That might not come till next week.

Commissioners were divided on the project but the majority decision reigned.

Commissioner Dave Serjeant would have rejected Ryman's application while
Commissioners Kitt Littlejohn and John Hill approved it.

Ryman said it was pleased with the decision, "and we know that the more than 300 residents we already have on our waiting list will be even happier".

"We are really looking forward to bringing much-needed care to the Devonport community and this is an important step along the way," the company said.

"We will be working through the detail of the panel's findings, so it is too early to talk about possible timeframes to start work."

Auckland Council received hundreds of submissions opposing the project.


Local objections include the appearance of the six-story project, its dominance, bulk, scale, traffic generation, its lack of relationship to surroundings and absence of effective landscaping to mitigate visual dominance.

Simon Challies, Ryman Healthcare chief executive and managing director, defended the project last year and said the community needed the retirement village.