Huge retirement village in Auckland seaside suburb cleared through mediation
A huge retirement complex has been cleared for construction in an historic seaside suburb, after a residents group's appeal was resolved in mediation.
Ryman Healthcare's 600-bed, six storey, retirement complex planned for Devonport on Auckland's North Shore, was given resource consent in December 2016, despite one of three Auckland Council commissioners evaluating the plans rejecting it.
Fierce community objection to the scale of the Ryman's designs resulted in an appeal to the Environment Court being lodged by the Devonport Peninsula Precinct Society on February 27 this year.
However, after a court-led mediation process lasting more than a month, chair Iain Rea said the Devonport Peninsula Precinct Society was pleased with the alterations made to Ryman's design and agreed to it on May 12.
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"We are still going to have Devonport's biggest ever development on this site, but we have managed to mitigate some of the worst effects," Rea said.
"The result sends a clear a message to the council that the approval under the Unitary Plan of Ryman's initial plans was wrong.
"Ryman had absolutely no incentive to come to the table with good design. They didn't have to, council approved exactly what they proposed."
Also involved in the mediation process was civic lobby group Urban Auckland and the New Zealand Institute of Architects, who both joined the Environment Court appeal against Ryman in March.
Ryman Group development manager Andrew Mitchell led the Ryman team through mediation and said he was grateful for the goodwill of all parties to find common ground.
"The talks have been constructive, and we have agreed a resolution we are all happy with," Mitchell said
"This is great news for the more than 300 people on our waiting list who have been waiting for news."
"We are pleased to be a step closer to providing a comprehensive care retirement village in the Devonport community that is desperately needed."
The terms and design changes to the Devonport complex reached in the mediated agreement between Ryman and the appellants is subject to confidentiality at this stage.
The mediated agreement will now be submitted to the Environment Court who will then decide if it falls within the scope of the original resource consent.
If it does, a settlement of the Environment Court appeal will be given.
Rea said it's impressive that mediation was achieved because all parties had a long way to go to find an acceptable compromise.
"It's good everyone worked so hard, because you can walk into a mediation room and walk out 30 minutes later with nothing resolved," Rea said.
"We were in there for five weeks."
The Ryman's complex on Ngataringa Rd, Devonport, will be built on a 4.2 hectare plot of land that contains the archaeological site of the old Duder Brickworks, built in 1875.
Original plans for the complex included six buildings and 269 car parks, with the tallest building six storeys tall.
The mediation process has cost more than $50,000. Devonport Peninsula Precinct Society raised $20,000 in a yard sale and $16,500 on its Givealittle page, but still needs to raise $15,000 to cover legal and planning consultancy fees for the mediation process.