Zoning issues leave builders 'scared'

DUBBY HENRY
Last updated 05:00 01/08/2012

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The developers of a major shopping centre planned for near Karaka are ''too scared'' to start building because of fears the council will stop them in their tracks if there are zoning issues.

But Auckland Mayor Len Brown has met with Karaka Lakes developers Frank and Juliet Reynolds and told them the council will ''make provisions'' for the development.

The Reynolds own a 15-hectare plot north of Hingaia Rd where they are keen to start building a shopping centre.

The land, now leased to onion growers, is zoned mixed-use 1. That allows for a combination of residential and commercial use, with a maximum of three hectares of intensive retail and one small store.

That is not enough to service the 30,000-plus population eventually expected to live to the west of the Papakura interchange, Juliet Reynolds said.

The developers want certainty from the Auckland Council on zoning and how far they'll be allowed to expand before they start building.

Brown told the Reynolds that council discussions over the next 12 months would ''make provision'' for their zoning requirements.

The Auckland Plan's vision is for retail and job opportunities to keep pace with population growth, especially in the south.  

The Karaka development fits that bill, Brown said.

The plan denotes Hingaia as an emerging local centre - a step below town centres like Papakura. But the Reynolds say that underestimates Hingaia's potential, with upwards of 10,000 people expected to move there in the next decade.

The centre's strategic location close to the motorway and a growing population mean  Hingaia could eventually become a town centre, Brown said.

The developers say they've so far pumped at least $60 million into the local economy through building and job opportunities.

The council is backing ''good quality developers'' like the Reynolds, Brown said, and he wants them to be ready to go when the economy picks up.

Councillor Calum Penrose also gave the developers' plans the thumbs-up and believes the Papakura Local Board approves.

But he expects some ''initial push-back'' from Papakura town centre as many retailers would find the Hingaia retail space more attractive.

The Reynolds have been patient, despite wrangles with the old Papakura District Council putting them five years behind schedule, and it's now time for Auckland Council to work with them, Penrose said.

The Draft Auckland Unitary Plan will be out for public consideration in mid-2013 and the mayor wants ''a high level of public buy-in'' so that plans like the Karaka shopping centre can be fast-tracked.

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He has also asked to see the Reynolds' plans for an ''affordable family housing'' development in Kingseat Village, which could house 5000 people.

- Auckland Now

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