It's second time lucky for Sustainabuilt Developments which is beginning a 40-section subdivision reached from Great North Rd on St John's Hill.

The company was formed in May 2016 with the aim of creating sustainable subdivisions. The owners are Simon Penn and his partner Stacey Pram, and Baden and Glenda Brown.

Their first 20-section subdivision, in London St surrounding the BP service station, was abandoned in 2018 because soil there was found to have five times the acceptable level of arsenic.

Their next effort is on about 3ha of rural land reached from Great North Rd, but invisible from the highway. It is as yet unnamed and adjoins Keryn Amon's 36-section subdivision reached from Tirimoana Pl.

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The land is zoned residential. Whanganui District Council changed the zoning of 50ha in Otamatea West from rural lifestyle to residential in December 2018 to make room for more houses as the district's population grew.

The Sustainabuilt land is flat and slightly sloping, with views across the Tasman Sea and city, co-owner Glenda Brown said.

It will eventually have 40 sections of varying sizes, and all the houses will be energy efficient.

They will be built by Simon Penn, who bought Baden Brown's building business in December 2014 and is the only builder licenced to build energy efficient "passive houses" in Whanganui District.

"Everybody will have their own ideas about what they want. We are committed to making [the houses] energy efficient and we are hoping that a lot of people will want them to be passive houses," Brown said.

All the houses will meet standards higher than the current building code.

The owners want the subdivision to have a "community feel", with green spaces. Graphic designers are working on layout now.

Preparatory earthworks will begin late this year or early next year, Brown said. The company is still working on the necessary consents and a cultural impact assessment.

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The land has huge historic value to Iwi, Brown said.

"We can't be doing anything but honour that."

The owners are working closely with Iwi, and have had many hui.

The company is also negotiating with council and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency about the subdivision's access and intersection with SH3.

Registrations of interest for house and land packages opened in March, and there have been "lots", Brown said.

The Browns are also involved with Jon Iliffe in eHaus, a business that designs and builds passive houses all over New Zealand.

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