Developer upset after Kāinga Ora knocks back plans for solar-powered town with few cars in South Auckland
The developer of a solar-powered, 5000 home development in South Auckland has been taken by surprise after the Government housing agency Kāinga Ora turned it down for a fast-track consenting process.
The proposed Sunfield development at Papakura is a radical departure from the norm and designed to enable “car-less” living with 5000 homes, three retirement villages, two schools, a 4ha town centre,22ha of open space and 11,000 jobs walkable from home.
There will be few car parks. Instead, an autonomous electric shuttle fleet will provide transport needs within the development and link with Papakura railway station.
Winton chief executive Chris Meehan said he is disappointed at the decision by Kāinga Ora to refuse consideration of the development for consent under the Government’s new Urban Development Act designed to fast-track large housing developments like Sunfield.
He said Winton chose to apply for consent under the Urban Development Act given its complex and forward-looking attributes, which the Resource Management Act is not well equipped to handle.
“It is very difficult to understand how Kāinga Ora wasn’t able to even accept this application for consideration … we were not allowed through the starting gate,” said Meehan.
Kāinga Ora general manager urban planning and design, Katja Lietz said that after carefully considering the proposal, the housing agency does not consider it would be able to add value to the proposed development using the power of the Urban Development Act.
“A partnership with Kāinga Ora as anticipated by the act may add unnecessary complexity and uncertainty to this project,” she said.
Lietz said Kāinga Ora had specific concerns about aspects of the development that could only be resolved in consultation with other parties.
“For example, proposed infrastructure to address the risk of flooding would only be feasible in a willing partnership with Auckland Council. We proposed discussions with Council to explore this and the proposer declined,” she said.
Lietz said progressing a proposal under the act deviates from the Resource Management Act process and becomes a partnership between the developer and Kāinga Ora.
She said Winton is a capable and well-funded developer seeking reduced timeframes and complexity for this development.
“We do not consider partnering with Kāinga Ora under the UDA will achieve that,” said Lietz.
“The need to consult widely and to obtain local council support remains no matter which path the development takes. Progressing this development through the usual RMA process provides a framework for the zone changes and consents they seek, so this is by no means the end of the road for it.”
Meehan said he is seeking meetings with the ministers responsible for the new act, Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Housing Minister Megan Woods, to discuss the proposal and, if necessary, use their directive powers to insist Kāinga Ora consider Sunfield.
“In the meantime, Winton will keep moving ahead with the already consented residential plans for a portion of the area. Unfortunately, the current resource consent does not allow for the innovative Sunfield concept, and it will therefore have the same sustainability profile of a community under traditional town planning.”
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