Consent granted for integrated retirement village healthcare model

LONDON: Consent has been granted for an improved integrated retirement village healthcare business model yesterday.

Resource consent has been granted for a $400 million luxury retirement village and aged care facility in Mount Maunganui.

The Sanderson Group development was approved by a fast-track expert consenting panel “at a reduced scale” with one of the four buildings to be five storeys instead of six.

It is planned for the former Pitau Rd Village site – one of two elder housing villages in Mount Maunganui Tauranga City Council decided to sell to private developers in 2021.

The council has now revealed it sold the Pitau Rd site for just over $23.2m – more than the $17.2m Kāinga Ora paid for the council’s seven other villages in 2022. The council was putting the proceeds towards various other housing initiatives.

A spokesman for a group of neighbours opposing the development said it was “extremely disappointed” by the decision and did not believe the development would address “affordable” housing in Tauranga.

A Sanderson Group statement on Friday said The Pitau was designed to provide housing and critical services for an aging population expected to double in size in the next decade.

The development had “significant early interest” from buyers including local residents and people nationwide.

The statement said adding 220 new homes would “significantly” help address the city’s housing shortfall of an estimated 5000 to 6000 homes.

The project would generate more than 300 jobs during construction and 130 permanent jobs upon completion.

Its location and proposed on-site amenities – a theatre, library, health spa, gym, swimming pool, medical treatment suites, restaurant and bar – would appeal to retirees seeking an “active and vibrant lifestyle”.

Barry Brown, a spokesman for neighbours opposed to the development, said the group was “extremely disappointed” by the decision.

“We feel that the community’s voice and the neighbours’ voice has not been properly heard.”

Previously, neighbours claimed they initially understood it would be a 9m-high development – which they supported – but were “horrified” when they found out it could be up to 22m, or six storeys.

Brown said he believed the homes would cost millions.

In his view: “Tauranga is short of affordable housing and this doesn’t do anything.”

Brown said in his view the retirement village was “not actually required”.

“There are already retirement facilities in parts of the Mount.”

In his view, the consenting process through the Covid-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act was “wholly inappropriate for something as major as this”.

He said it provided “limited rights” for the community to provide input.

In response to Brown’s comments, Sanderson Group chief executive Jared Baronian said its development does increase the capacity and supply of housing.

“Although apartments in the Mount will naturally be at the higher end, they will free up existing housing, particularly family homes,” he said.

“This has a flow-on effect for housing supply and affordability across the city.”

Baronian said there were no retirement villages in Mount Maunganui north of Bayfair/Girven Rd.

In Friday’s statement, Baronian said developments such as The Pitau would allow more people to enjoy “everything that’s great about living at the Mount”.

“This project provides an outcome in keeping with the original site’s use, in a location with great amenities where people want to live.”

Sanderson Group founder and chairman Fraser Sanderson said The Pitau was the “pinnacle” of his lifelong dedication to defining luxury retirement living and aged care in New Zealand.

“The Pitau will elevate the quality of life for residents desiring a vibrant, coastal retirement lifestyle, providing an unmatched sense of community, security and continuity of care.”

The decision report for the resource consent application said the retirement village was proposed to include three or four interconnected buildings of up to six storeys.

They contained about 167 independent living apartments, 60 hospital-level care suites, 220 basement car parks, and facilities for residents.

The report said Plan Change 33 to the Tauranga City Plan enabled additional housing intensity in Mount Maunganui.

The question of the height limit enabled by Plan Change 33 for the site sits with a government minister for a final decision after Tauranga City Council commissioners rejected a recommendation from an independent hearing panel to retain the current building heights.

The report said the panel determined the application should be granted “albeit at a reduced scale”.

The panel concluded the full proposal was at a scale that “fails to integrate with the surrounding environment and results in unacceptable adverse landscape and visual effects”.

In May, the applicant filed an adjusted scheme proposal, which proposed a reduction to five storeys for one of the buildings. It also proposed various setbacks to the other three buildings.

The panel considered the “reduced form” of the project which addressed their key concerns.

“The combination of setbacks and reduction in height, along with additional landscape planting will better integrate the project into the surrounding landscape.”