Auckland Council’s hearings committee went into closed meeting today to decide whether Scentre (NZ) Ltd’s application to increase the gross floor area of the St Lukes mall to 77,013m² should be publicly notified.
Cllr Cathy Casey, giving her voice to local opposition to the original plan change in 2010 and again at later stages, wanted to know the legal basis for making the deliberations confidential but got no explanation from committee chair Linda Cooper.
Planning consultant Andrew Wilkinson said in his report on the application for the council that impacts of the near-doubling of the mall’s footprint would be no more than minor and it needn’t be either notified or limited notified (to named parties).
Albert-Eden ward councillor Casey (able to take part in the open debate though not a member of the committee) and local board member Graeme Easte both insisted the impact on an already congested road network would be considerable, which should make the application notified.
However, Mr Wilkinson said completion of the western ring route in early 2017, through the tunnels & interchange connecting State Highway 20 to State Highway 16 at Waterview, would bring a critical reduction in traffic on the existing road network.
Planning consultant Vaughan Smith, for Scentre, said St Lukes had been developed at a time when totally inward-facing malls were considered acceptable. Private plan change 8 rezoned land adjoining the shopping centre & owned by Scentre predecessor Westfield (NZ) Ltd to business 8, and enabled Westfield (and now Scentre) to double the maximum gross floor area to 92,500m², including 15,000m² for offices. It would also become a more open centre.
Mr Smith said appeals were all resolved through mediation before getting to the Environment Court. Although Cllr Casey said mayor Len Brown had quieted initial opposition by saying critics would get their chance during the resource consent process, Mr Smith disagreed that there was an expectation the application would be notified.
He said it was always intended that a series of resource consents would be required, and that controlled or restricted discretionary activities would be considered without notification. “The things that pushed this into a discretionary status were relatively minor,” he said.
He added: “The scale of development in this application is envisaged in the district plan and concept plan for this site…. There was no requirement [to consult on resource consents] and no consultation. For the plan change there was a lot of consultation.”
This consent application is for combined stages 4-5 of the development.
Hearing panel appointments:
The hearing committee also appointed commissioners today to hear 2 other urban applications plus a variation for the Te Muri regional park:
Newmarket level crossing project, Auckland Transport notice of requirement & applications for resource consent: Simon Berry (chair), Janine Bell & David Mead
Milford, Milford Shopping Centre, 114 Kitchener Rd: Karyn Sinclair (chair), Melean Absolum, Craig Shearer & Phelan Pirie (Rodney local board member)
Te Muri: Barry Kaye (chair) & Sheena Tepania
Image above: An artist’s impression of the transformed St Lukes mall at the corner of St Lukes Rd & Morningside Drive.
17 February 2012: Plan change to double St Lukes mall goes through final council hoop
13 January 2012: Court issues consent order for St Lukes rezoning & expansion
19 December 2010: St Lukes: the debate
18 November 2010: Westfield gets St Lukes plan change approval as mayor talks mediation
19 October 2008: Plan change would allow 200 apartments in 3 towers above Milford shopping centre
Attribution: Council committee meeting.