Karaka plan fits bill - Mayor

MAYOR'S TOUR: Len Brown looks over the Karaka Lakes residential area with developers Frank and Juliet Reynolds.
MAYOR'S TOUR: Len Brown looks over the Karaka Lakes residential area with developers Frank and Juliet Reynolds.

A major shopping centre planned for Hingaia won't be hog-tied by zoning issues, Auckland mayor Len Brown says.

He made the comment after meeting Karaka Lakes developers Frank and Juliet Reynolds on site on Monday.

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

But they say they're "too scared" to begin the build under the existing constraints on zoning.

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 box store.

That's not enough to service the 30,000-plus population eventually expected to live to the west of the Papakura interchange, Mrs Reynolds says.

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

Mr 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, Mr Brown says.

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, Mr Brown says.

He also took a tour of Karaka Lakes, where 100 out of a planned 500 houses have been built.

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, Mr Brown says, and he wants them to be ready to go when the economy picks up.

"I really take my hat off to what you're doing here."

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, Mr Penrose says.

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

Papakura Courier