A company planning the Far North's biggest retirement village on a quiet Kerikeri street has committed to widening the road, installing a footpath and other ''public good'' projects around the town.
The agreement, struck last week between Auckland-based Arvida and the Far North District Council, will help to allay residents' concerns about traffic safety on their narrow, dead-end road.
It will also reassure ratepayers who feared they would end up footing the bill for public infrastructure required for the new village.
In August last year Arvida announced it was planning to spend about $120 million building a retirement village on 18ha of land at the end of Hall Rd. The village would house about 340 people in 200 villas and apartments plus another 80 in a care facility.
The proposal alarmed residents on Hall Rd, which is 5m wide with open drains and no footpaths or verges, who 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.
However, in a deal discussed behind closed doors at last week's council meeting in Kaitaia, Arvida has agreed to pay for Hall Rd to be upgraded and widened to 6.5m. The company will also pay for a footpath and street lighting, and safety improvements at the Hall Rd/Kerikeri Rd intersection.
Arvida will also set aside space for a road corridor from the Mill Lane area, which could form part of a future transport plan, and help pay for ''public good'' projects around town such as footpaths or public toilets.
Former Green MP David Clendon, spokesman for a group of Hall Rd residents, said he was pleased by the show of good intentions from the council and Arvida, and their acknowledgment the road needed to be improved.
However, it was a bottom line for residents that the road had to be improved before earthworks or construction began.
''Residents in Rainbow Falls Rd, affected by the Quail Ridge development, are still waiting for a roading upgrade and footpaths six years after work on that project began,'' he said.
Council chief executive Shaun Clarke said he was delighted Arvida was investing in the Far North. The proposal would address the need for more retirement housing in Kerikeri, free up existing homes for new residents and create about 200 jobs.
Clarke said the agreement struck with Arvida was ''fair and reasonable'' and minimised the financial impact on ratepayers.
Arvida Group chief executive Bill McDonald said the company always intended to be ''a beneficial and trustworthy member'' of the Far North community and to pay its fair share.
The company initiated discussions early in the consenting process about how it could contribute, given that the council didn't charge development contributions.
Neither the council nor Arvida is commenting on the dollar value of the company's contribution.
Council services manager Dean Myburgh said details of the agreement, including the timing of infrastructure work, had yet to be finalised. The size of Arvida's contribution was subject to land valuations and couldn't be divulged until the agreement was signed.
Meanwhile, Clendon said a nearby 30-section subdivision, started before the council abolished development contributions, was billed more than $500,000.
Using the same baseline of $17,600 per dwelling, a reasonable contribution from Arvida for its much larger project would be about $4 million, he said.
Arvida has so far lodged a resource consent application for stage one earthworks. It was subject to limited notification so only 18 residents deemed to be directly affected had the right to make submissions.
Some of those residents have objected, which means a hearing by an independent commissioner will be required. A hearing date has yet to be set.
Clendon maintains the consent application should have been fully notified so everyone could have had a say.
The village is expected to be built over a seven- to 10-year period, with construction of the first 28 units due to start in summer.
The council abolished development contributions in 2015 when investment in the Far North had slowed to a trickle.