PHOTO: Drury

Auckland Council will drop an appeal, allowing a huge development at Drury to go ahead, as long as work is staged so there’s more time to fund infrastructure.

An aerial photo of the 95 hectares Kiwi Property has been given approval to rezone. It runs along the boundary with Brookfield Rd in the bottom left of the image out to the Hingaia Stream, which runs parallel to the Southern Motorway, and along Great South Rd.

Three of New Zealand’s biggest developers – Oyster Capital, Fulton Hogan and Kiwi Property – applied in July 2020 to rezone the land in East Drury from future urban to a mix of residential, business and open space zones.

In May, independent hearing commissioners approved the private plan changes.

But, in June, Auckland Council announced it would appeal the decision. Appeals were also filed by Kāinga Ora, Auckland Transport and KiwiRail Holdings Limited.

The council had opposed the plan changes on the grounds it would be left to foot the bill for $1 billion in infrastructure, including $600 million for transport-related projects and a further $500m for stormwater, sewerage, parks and community facilities.

Fergs Coffee

But an out-of-court agreement has now been reached after mediation.

The parties agreed there was “insufficient funding for the ultimate build out of Drury East” and that the works would have to be staged in a way which allows for the “delivery of the necessary transport infrastructure”.

Fulton Hogan land development chief executive Graeme Causer said he was pleased with the result.

In June, he said he was trying to get his head around the council’s decision to appeal and it would be a waste of everyone’s time and money.

Causer said after the latest decision he just wants to start construction.

“Hopefully we can now get on with the consents in a reasonably quick timeframe and get something happening.”

Auckland Council chief of strategy Megan Tyler said the decision marks the end of the council’s legal battle over the Drury private plan changes.

“Auckland Council has worked constructively together with the private plan change applicants and other parties to resolve the appeals through court-assisted mediation,” she said.

“These discussions resulted in all parties reaching an agreement that resolves all the appeals in full without the need for an Environment Court hearing. The court has issued a consent determination that brings court proceedings to an end.

“The council is now preparing to seek approval of the plan changes and a direction to make them operative through the relevant council committee.”

In a statement, a Kiwi Property spokesperson said Drury is expected to grow to about the same size as Napier over the next 30 years and it’s no surprise that all of the funding isn’t in place yet.

“Developing cities over time, in line with population growth, is considered best practice and the same way urban centres in New Zealand have evolved throughout the country’s history,” he said.

“It would be inefficient and unusual to build all the roads, schools, hospitals, stormwater and other civic amenities for a city of 60,000 inhabitants, when just a fraction of those people currently live in the area and years before the infrastructure will be required.”

The spokesperson said Drury’s transport infrastructure and other amenities will instead be built in stages, as the region’s population grows and residents’ requirements become clearer.

“We’ll undertake all the roading and infrastructure upgrades in our development.”

Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air.