Listed retirement specialist Arvida Group is spending "millions" upgrading Far North infrastructure and has this month won approval for Northland's largest retirement village, its boss said.
Bill McDonald, Arvida chief executive, said today the company was outlaying "millions" to fix the rural Hall Rd which would become busy when the new village was developed into a $130 million, 200-villa project with a hospital.
Independent commissioners heard the company's application and McDonald said that last Tuesday, consent was granted by the Far North District Council.
Arvida subsidiary Kerikeri Land will develop the 17ha farm site at the end of the cul de sac road on the outskirts of town.
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Arvida's original proposal alarmed residents on Hall Rd, around 5m wide with open drains and no footpaths or verges. People in the area said the large number of trucks expected during construction would put pedestrians, children especially, in danger.
They also worried that already-stretched ratepayers would end up paying to upgrade the road, because the Far North District Council doesn't require companies to pay development contributions to offset the costs of new infrastructure.
McDonald said today Arvida would upgrade and widen the narrow rural road by around 1m to 6.5m. The council had examined the prospect of widening the road further to a potential finished width of around 8m.
The total road widening bill might be split half between the council and Arvida and the works take place simultaneously.
Arvida would also build a footpath, install street lights and make further safety improvements.
Hall Rd could also be extended to the southwestern edge of the site beside a wetland. The council said it was looking at securing a potential future road corridor that may form part of an integrated transport strategy, seeking community feedback.
McDonald said earthworks could now start on the site during the driest time of the year.
Kerikeri residents said they were prepared to take legal action if remedial roadworks were not first done by Arvida.
The Far North District Council said: "Arvida plans to build 200 villas and serviced apartments, as well as an 80-bed care facility, on an 18-hectare site at the end of Hall Rd over a seven to 10-year period. The overall spend is expected to be about $120 million. Stage One of the development, which includes 28 residential units, is scheduled for construction this summer."
Arvida had also agreed to make a financial contribution to Kerikeri public amenities including footpaths and toilets or similar public projects. Its funding proposals were considered and accepted in principle by the mayor and councillors, a statement said.
Arvida, which owns and operates 32 properties, last week announced a big lift on the $30m profit it made in on the first half of its 2019 financial year and said assets grew $542m to more than $1.8b.
Net profit after tax rose 47 per cent to $45m with underlying profit up 31 per cent to $23.4m.
The result was driven by higher volumes and strong margins on the resale of occupation rights and an excellent operating result that was underpinned by the continuing performance of the care business.