Auckland bureaucrats have been instructed by Mayor Phil Goff to sit down and sort out their differences over a development instead of taking the matter to court with expensive lawyers.
Panuku Development Auckland has lodged an appeal in the Environment Court against Auckland Council after it was refused planning permission for an apartment and commercial development on Dominion Rd.
The council-controlled organisation has hired Russell McVeagh partner Daniel Minhinnick and senior associate Simon Pilkinton. If the matter goes to court, the council is likely to hire its own outside lawyers.
I support an intensified housing development on the Dominion Rd site.
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Panuku spat the dummy after the council opposed its plans for 102 apartments and nine shops on the corner of Dominion Rd and Valley Rd, 35 of the 42 submissions opposed the plans, and independent planning commissioners refused planning permission.
Last night, Goff had harsh words for Panuku and council bureaucrats, saying if they had resolved their differences early on the resource consent for the development may have gone through.
He now expected them to find a solution that addresses the issues raised by the planning commissioners, does not require court action and meets the need for high density housing and good urban design.
"I support an intensified housing development on the Dominion Rd site and council's Unitary Plan has zoned it for that outcome.
"However, the specific design of Panuku's proposal was not supported by the Independent Hearing Commissioners because of its bulk, height and impact on surrounding properties," said Goff.
In a statement, Panuku director of development Allan Young said after carefully reviewing the commissioners' decision, the CCO had decided to appeal.
"Panuku considers that this site is appropriate for intensification and is keen to work with the council and interested parties to reach a positive outcome for the site and area," said Young, saying he could not comment further because the matter is before the court.
The decision by planning commissioners to refuse Panuku's plans was welcomed by heritage groups, but criticised by Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford.
He cited the decision as one reason for the Government overriding Auckland Council and scrapping the Unitary Plan in specified parts of Auckland.
Twyford plans to set up an Urban Development Authority to become the "planning and consenting authority" for 12 to 15 large-scale housing developments, including along Dominion Rd.