Residents of a quiet Kerikeri street want their road made safer before construction of a major retirement village begins.
Auckland-based Arvida Group plans to spend $130 million building about 200 villas and apartments as well as a care centre with up to 80 beds at the end of Hall Rd, a no-exit residential street off Kerikeri Rd.
The company hopes to start earthworks as soon as next month and to have the first 28 units ready by December 2019. The 18ha property is currently an orchard.
David Clendon, a former Green MP who lives on Hall Rd, said residents had mixed views on the development itself, but all wanted road safety issues addressed before work started.
''That's the one thing everyone's absolutely unanimous and adamant about,'' he said.
''Not everyone in the road is opposed to the village — far from it — but they're all concerned about the safety aspects of it.''
Hall Rd is a narrow 5.5m road with a hill limiting visibility, open drains and no berm where pedestrians or cyclists can avoid traffic.
Arvida's resource consent applications showed the company planned to move 5000cu m of aggregate on to the site, about 500 truckloads by Clendon's estimate, from mid-January to the end of February. The rest of the earthworks were expected to continue to March 2020.
The company also planned to install a large culvert, triple the size of the current one, for a creek that fed into Wairoa Stream.
Clendon said the timing of the first phase of earthworks overlapped with the summer holidays, the very time children were likely to be playing outdoors.
A street meeting on November 29 drew 37 people, representing 65 per cent of Hall Rd's 44 households.
Beth Clarke, a mother of three aged 6 and under, was concerned about the safety of her children, especially with no footpaths and limited verges along Hall Rd.
''I've got no objection to the actual retirement village, but I'm concerned about the lackadaisical approach to safety on our road, and the speed at which it's happening without proper consultation with locals,'' she said.
Clendon said the consent applications ''glossed over'' road safety, the environmental effects on a stream that crossed the property, noise and dust, and the extra pressure on Kerikeri's infrastructure.
When residents challenged Arvida about the suitability of Hall Rd for the expected volume of traffic, the message they got was that the road was the responsibility of the Far North District Council, he said.
Consent applications lodged so far with the district and regional councils are for the earthworks only.
A spokesman for Arvida said the company was fully committed to working with the local community.
A cautionary tale
Hall Rd resident David Clendon says the experience of residents living near another new retirement complex in Kerikeri is a ''cautionary tale'' of what can happen to promised road upgrades.
Residents on Rainbow Falls Rd, which provides the only access to the booming Quail Ridge development, were assured footpaths would be built and the road strengthened to handle the extra traffic.
However, they didn't realise the developer was not required to pay for road improvements until stage two of the complex was complete and a planned care centre was occupied.
Five years later, stage two was finished but the care facility was still three years away from opening, Clendon said.
That meant Rainbow Falls Rd residents would have been waiting eight years by the time they got their promised footpaths.
Clendon said safety concerns on Hall Rd were more pressing than on Rainbow Falls Rd, which was flatter and wider than Hall Rd and had generous berms.