The masterplan for the first stage of Auranga.

Second round for Auranga precinct confirms Drury as major growth centre

Drury, 35km south of Auckland’s city centre, is the new centre of activity in the Auckland region, with construction of between 6100 & 10,800 homes anticipated on 1000ha there within 10 years.

That’s a potential population explosion of 30,000 people in an area that was all greenfields 2 years ago, apart from the small Drury township which, at the 2013 census, had 1200 homes and a population of just over 3500 – up by only 140 in 6 years.

Image above: The masterplan for the first stage of Auranga.

A planned, and very large, piece of it is the industrial expansion by Stevenson Group Ltd from its quarry in the hills east of State Highway 1 across to the highway. The company secured planning approval in 2013 to rezone 361ha of rural & quarry land for a mix of industrial & business development.

In 2015, Charles Ma’s Karaka & Drury Ltd had its 68ha Drury precinct 1 proposal approved as a special housing area, projecting its whole development would yield 1000-1500 new homes over 7-9 years, with the first homes ready for occupation by the end of 2017. The land was rural, but zoned future urban under the proposed Auckland unitary plan.

Kiwi Property Group Ltd spotted Drury’s potential and bought some of 51.3ha at Drury in April, with agreements to secure the balance, to create a new town centre next to Stevenson’s site. Kiwi’s 3 greenfield sites are next to the junction of the Southern Motorway, Great South Rd and the North Island main trunk railway line.

Auckland Council’s structure plan map for Drury-Opaheke. The future urban-zoned land, including Auranga 1B, is in yellow. Stevenson’s Drury South industrial precinct, in purple, is at the lower right of the map.

Plan change accepted for notification

Last Tuesday, Mr Ma’s company was at Auckland Council’s planning committee seeking approval to extend its Auranga subdivision from the initial precinct 1, and to rezone the 84.6ha extension as mixed housing urban & mixed housing suburban, providing for about 1300 more homes. The committee accepted the private plan change, which will now be publicly notified & opened to submissions.

There was potential for a hiccup, because the council had already turned down Mr Ma’s request to rezone part of this land in 2015 for 2 main reasons: concerns about the impact of the proposed development on existing transport infrastructure, and the need for a structure plan to be prepared for the wider area.

Structure & catchment plans are the bane of developers’ lives because they invariably follow the developer’s bright ideas – the country has not been mapped out in precise structure plans well in advance of development dreams yet to be dreamt.

The council plans set limits which are often inconvenient, slow in arriving & expensive. For both developer & council, those plans are a cost incurred well before any likely return from development, and subsequent rates payments.

In this case, the council has embarked on its own structure plan process for a wider area running from Drury up Opaheke Rd to Papakura. However, the report to Tuesday’s committee meeting by principal planner Barry Mosley & planning manager Celia Davison acknowledged that Mr Ma’s company had lodged its private plan change before the council embarked on its own Drury-Opaheke structure planning process and it wouldn’t compromise that process, as the land subject to the private plan change request was relatively confined, the proposed land use was the most appropriate and wouldn’t foreclose the consideration of other appropriate outcomes.

“In short,” the council planners wrote, “the council’s ability to pursue a full range of options for the Drury-Opaheke area through the structure plan process will not be constrained by the private plan change request.

“Secondly, bulk infrastructure is already proposed to service land within the adjacent Drury 1 precinct, and preliminary assessments indicate that this bulk infrastructure can be logically & efficiently designed to service the Auranga B1 land & parts of the wider Drury area.”

The council planning committee adopted its refreshed future urban land supply strategy on 4 July, confirming its 1016ha growth target at Drury west of State Highway 1. The council expects land release in that wider area to start in 2022 north of State Highway 22, and in 2028 south of State Highway 22.

Ma to leverage off infrastructure he’s creating in first precinct

Charles Ma at the launch of Auranga stage 1 in October 2016.

Mr Ma’s company intends to leverage off the infrastructure he’s creating in the initial Auranga area to develop the proposed B1 private plan change area.

The whole area requires new trunk wastewater sewerage, with connecting branches. A wastewater pump station is being built at 207 Bremner Rd in the Drury 1 precinct, designed to service a population of 10,000, including the residential component of Stevenson’s Drury South development and its Drury South industrial precinct.

In addition, a site is being reserved for a Watercare Services Ltd pump station that can service additional dwellings and enable Watercare to develop a wider wastewater network.

Watercare & Veolia Water Solutions Technologies NZ Ltd (which took over Papakura District’s water supply before the super-city was created in 2010) are working through a number of possible solutions to ensure security of water supply for Drury. The council planners said: “At this point there is reliance on one bulk supply point via connection to water sourced from the Waikato River. A possible solution to ensuring a backup water supply is to establish a second bulk supply point with connection to a Hunua water source.”

They said transport infrastructure upgrades would be required to enable development within the Drury 1 precinct, and Mr Ma’s Karaka & Drury was finalising an infrastructure funding agreement to enable delivery of upgrades, which will also largely unlock the potential of the Auranga B1 land.

The Karaka & Drury company intends to provide all necessary stormwater infrastructure within Auranga B1.

The council planning committee approved a structure planning programme for Drury-Opaheke on 1 August, to be completed within 12 months. Key strategic issues to be considered in that include:

  • the location of & appropriate number of centres
  • transport infrastructure, including the location & number of train stations
  • the location & mix of residential & commercial/industrial land; and
  • the location, size & function of parks, reserves & community facilities.

The council planners said in their report aspects of the Auranga plan change would need to be tested through the submission & hearings process, but added: “The scope & extent of the changes sought do not, in themselves, threaten the purpose & principles of the Resource Management Act when considered at this preliminary stage. The private plan change request is therefore considered to be in accordance with sound resource management practice.”

Local boards differ on timing

Papakura Local Board members didn’t support the Auranga plan change request now as they considered it premature and that it would place significant pressure on existing infrastructure: “They have also expressed concerns that the request, if accepted (and when combined with current development existing & proposed in the wider area), would adversely impact on the Drury motorway exchange & infrastructure.”

However, the Franklin Local Board supported the proposed plan change in principle, saying it was a logical extension of the existing special housing area & Drury 1 precinct. Franklin board members were also pleased it sought to develop a sustainable new community in an area that is well placed to deliver new centres, jobs & infrastructure improvements, and it could be progressed alongside work on the Drury-Opaheke structure plan. The Franklin board said the council & Mr Ma should seek a partnership approach to make the 2 processes complementary.

Council development programme office general manager John Dunshea told the committee water from the Flanagans Rd bulk supply point would also pass through the Auranga land to the Hingaia Peninsula, which had been constrained by the lack of bulk supply.

Cllr Daniel Newman said Hingaia had already been live-zoned from future urban when it didn’t have the infrastructure to take new housing, but he expected the whole area east of State Highway 1 to face challenges “sooner than in a decade” – Drury East in particular.

“That will make this footprint in this part of Auckland attractive to the market and we will have to do structure planning to implement that.”

Links:
Planning committee agenda, Tuesday 5 September
11, Auckland unitary plan (operative in part) – private plan change request from Karaka & Drury Ltd – Auranga B1

Earlier stories:
7 April 2017: Kiwi Property plans new town centre next to Stevenson’s Drury development
31 October 2016: Work starts on 3 striking special housing area projects
24 August 2016: Work set to start after fast approval for Auranga special housing area at Drury
4 July 2015: 2 large special housing areas for Franklin
30 August 2013: Drury South industrial area plan change & MUL extension approved
4 September 2012: Drury South plan changes notified

Attribution: Council committee meeting & agenda.

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3 Responses to Second round for Auranga precinct confirms Drury as major growth centre

  1. Roger Smith Tuesday 12 September 2017 at 9.09pm #

    Building more houses will not fix the housing crisis. Because we are continuing to let in more immigrants at a faster rate than we are building houses.

    Also to develop land and build a house takes 2+ years, but an immigrants requirement is immediate.

    The demand /supply problem is getting worse.

    Time to look at demand as much as we are looking at supply.

  2. Bob Dey Tuesday 12 September 2017 at 11.06pm #

    Hi Roger, Can I rephrase your point? I’ve done this to it: ‘We cannot build enough houses fast enough to match net immigration, therefore we should reduce immigration.’
    Immigration levels have been unusually high for the last 5 years because of the number of Kiwis returning from Australia, plus high Chinese & Indian inflows.
    It’s abnormal for Australia’s economy to sink this low for so long – probably the last time was in the late 1960s. A high proportion of the Indian influx have come on student visas, and the quality of study has been questioned. Chinese immigrants include students & families.
    You can expect the Australian economy to revert to norm, but it might take another couple of years. In that event, the outflow of Kiwis is likely to resume.
    It’s reasonable to assume shortstay students will be satisfied with intensive accommodation, and the number might fall if the value of the study offered is examined.
    For the rest, it would have made sense if the Government had forecast arrival numbers so the receiving cities could make some preparation.
    But migration isn’t the central problem. The key is that housing went from being a roof over your head to a speculative investment sector, and then an international speculative sector.
    Auckland’s eastern suburbs have been a perfect target: tightly held, not easy to redevelop (and still not as easy under the new unitary plan as in other parts of Auckland), price rises guaranteed. The evolution of availability, intensification & land price adjustments, now the unitary plan is mostly in place, along with tightening of Chinese capital flows in China and through regulation here, should reduce speculative gains.
    That doesn’t mean supply of appropriate housing will overcome the critical shortage. As the market cools, participants, including builders, may decide against taking the risk – unless there is a mechanism such as government funding or ongoing job demand to ensure supply can be rewarded.
    Another measure is to change the national mindset, which is happening slowly, so New Zealand becomes a series of innovative business centres that attract value-add investment – bright minds coming, or staying, for the lifestyle and the opportunities instead of quick speculative gains.

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