An ambitious development project to turn the old Perry Group sand quarry into a part theme park, part housing area was given the tick of approval from Hamilton City Council.

The council at its Tuesday council meeting, approved sending the Te Awa Lakes Special Housing Area (SHA) proposal to the Government for consideration.

The Te Awa Lakes development will see 1000 homes built on a triangular block of land owned by Perry Group, which borders the Waikato Expressway and the Waikato River. The area is north of Te Rapa, heading towards Horotiu.

Of the 1000 houses, 400 will be affordable housing which will need to be below the median house price under Hamilton's special housing areas act, if it follows government standards.

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Perry Group also has plans to build a theme park as part of the development, with early concepts showing go-karting and water skiing as just some of the possible activities.

A number of industrial companies such as Fonterra, Ports of Auckland and Affco were not in favour of the development, and pleaded with councillors to not give it their support.

They argued that the position of the proposed development land was wrong, as the majority of their operations worked around the clock and are not compatible with housing areas. However, despite the industries' warnings, the majority of councillors were in favour of the development.

Councillor Geoff Taylor said these things are needed due to Hamilton's ongoing housing crisis.

"In this process for me, the need to provide housing takes priority," Mr Taylor said.
He said council now needs to look at things differently when providing industrial and housing land.

"I think if you came from another planet, and you looked at Waikato District, Waipa and Hamilton and the way we are doing it, you would scratch your head."

Councillor Leo Tooman said he does not believe the area will be affordable housing.

"It looks pretty upmarket to me, all along the water's edge and I would believe that those would be $1 million properties," Mr Tooman said.

"I just had a look, and today on Trade Me there are 679 properties for sale in Hamilton and 370 for rent, and I question do we really have a housing crisis.

"I am concerned if we go ahead with this, then we are not complying with our own district plan."

Councillor Ryan Hamilton called the development a once in 100 year opportunity.

"We shouldn't be bound by our own rules that were set up so many years ago when a unique opportunity comes along like this," Mr Hamilton said.

"This development and its related proposal are the sort of thing that makes a city crank," he said.

"Perry are looking to turn their lemon into lemonade."

Councillor Garry Mallett said he had no confidence in the process going forward.

"Fonterra, Affco and Open Country have over time acquired and developed property rights based on that certainty, they have spent billions of dollars in our community and lots of jobs," Mr Mallett said.

"I am very concerned that the process will not allow notification for these industrial organisations," Mr Mallett said.

Council voted 10-2 to send the proposal to Government for consideration.

Mayor Andrew King, deputy mayor Martin Gallagher, councillors Dave Macpherson, Angela O'Leary, Siggi Henry, James Casson, Mark Bunting, Taylor, Southgate and Hamilton were for the motion.
Councillors Mallett and Tooman were against, with councillor Rob Pascoe absent from the vote.