Multigenerational housing to be interwoven with hotel/resort setting

LONDON: A multigenerational housing community is to be interwoven with an hotel in a resort setting.

Sitting in a Quay Park office lined with schematics of land plans, walkways and a new town centre, developer/builder Brett Russell tells of his vision.

The construction expert with Russell Group and Dominion Constructors, and Rob Bassett who founded Bassett Plumbing, describe what they want to do: get some of their golf course and farmland in southeast Auckland rezoned so they can develop it into a new urban hub.

For the infrastructure to create that, around $2.5 billion will be needed, they say.

Dominion is ranked as New Zealand’s seventh largest builder, currently with $500 million-plus worth of work. The company has developed many Quay Park offices, apartments and hotels, among other projects.

Now, Russell’s focus is on beachfront land to Auckland’s south. As long as Auckland Council agrees, he, Bassett and two other parties want part of their 307ha site rezoned to allow them to develop the new Beachlands South community during the next 15 to 20 years.

“It’s a beast of a thing,” said another developer, calling it Auckland’s largest planned new housing estate on a vast greenfields site that includes the Rydges Formosa Golf Resort.

The idea is initially to get a plan change approved to allow them to build 2900 stand-alone homes, apartments and terraced residences but with the capacity to perhaps expand that to 4500 to 5000 homes, including retirement places.

“But it’s more than that,” says Bassett, pointing to a purple area on a map showing land set aside for light industrial or service areas where trades such as plumbers, panel beaters and electricians can work.

Russell adds: “An innovation hub like the Shore’s B:Hive too,” citing Takapuna’s Smales’ Farm building and its much-awarded shared space offices with their radical curved stairway and foyer full of plants.

One of Beachlands’ troubles, they say, is a lack of employment, as well as roading issues, no secondary school and more than 700 students leaving daily to get their education.

Their promotional video talks about “what’s holding Beachlands back” and cites all those things, so the limited partnership is pitching its plans for what it calls an expansion of the existing settlement.

Land has been earmarked for a new primary as well as a new secondary school, a village centre, 150-room hotel with a conference centre, walkways and cycle paths, dining, light industrial, recreation, parks and playgrounds.

The land is at 110 Jack Lachlan Drive and along Whitford-Maraetai Rd.

The proposed project is to be developed by Beachlands South Limited Partnership; Guardians of New Zealand Superannuation Fund; parties associated with the Russell Property Group; and Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki, based in Maraetai, the Waitematā and Tikapa Moana / the Hauraki Gulf.

Crown Infrastructure Partners (CIP) submitted a document in the plan change process, saying it had been talking to Russell Property Group since August 2021 on possible infrastructure funding and financing for their planned development.

An estimated $75m would be raised via a levy per apartment and per house, which CIP said “appears reasonable”.

Russell says that $75m would be spent improving road access, and would be levied on a “user pays” basis which doesn’t charge existing residents. Bassett says: “We didn’t create the roading problem but we’re going to fix it. We’re going to make it better than it is today.”

However, the council has indicated that it will oppose the plan change. “We are still awaiting copies of their actual submission to know what opposition they may have, if any, but have been told verbally that they will oppose. Once we have received it, as with all other submissions, we will work through the issues raised and address concerns accordingly,” Russell says.

A huge effort has already gone into plans. Jasmax (Auckland), Woods Bagot in Melbourne, Studio Pacific in Wellington and Studio Woodroffe Papa in London have done master planning and urban design.

Tonkin & Taylor is doing coastal engineering and contamination ecology work. Harrison Grierson is the civil and infrastructure engineer. Simpson Grierson and Russell Bartlett KC are handling legal work. Norman Disney Young in Sydney is the carbon consultant. Traffic engineers are Stantec.

The plan change application was submitted last March and accepted for processing in December. On January 26, the council invited public submissions on it.

One local Beachlands resident said schooling and roads were the community’s biggest concerns.

If the developers committed to building schools and upgrading roads before any massive housing development arose, people wouldn’t worry. But the fear was that such vital upgrades would be an afterthought, if they did occur at all.

That would put even more pressure on roads, schools and transport, already struggling for years to cope with a huge population increase driven by many past and new housing developments.

“Like a lot of residents, I shudder to think how bad things could get on the one road in and out of town. It’s bad enough as it is. And you’d struggle to talk to a local who hasn’t been bumped from a ferry service due to it being over-subscribed,” the resident said.

The scepticism about new schools was because the community had been asking for a high school for years.

Other areas had a higher need, so it was one thing to set aside land, but “quite another for it to actually happen”.

A 20-year development plan meant the population increase and the impacts would almost certainly precede any improvements to roads and amenities, the resident believed.

One interested party is Empire Capital, owned by Rich-Listers Simon and Paula Herbert. Empire has the Pine Harbour Marina and is understood to have made a submission on plans to develop the 307ha.

Angela Fulljames, Franklin Local Board chair, said the board had not yet formed its view, “as we have not workshopped the feedback from the hearings process. There are pros and cons that we have heard anecdotally from the community but need to review the formal feedback”.

Submissions closed on the plan change on February 24.

Now, Russell and the others have to wait for a decision on their application.