Residents dread park
Devastating. That's how rural residents are describing news that a huge industrial park has been given the green light to go ahead in Drury.
The Drury South private plan change has been approved, paving the way for a 360ha industrial park to be built between Stevenson's Drury quarry and the southern motorway.
The change clears the way for extensions to the council's urban limits and the rezoning of rural and quarry land.
Residents - including small lifestyle block owners and horticultural business people - say they are stunned by the decision, which was made by a panel of independent hearings commissioners.
The Drury & Ramarama Protection Society has spent more than $100,000 fighting the industrial park proposal and chairman Peter Mathias says the news is devastating.
"Our members worked hard to present the local viewpoint in opposition to the hearing almost two months ago and we are gutted to learn that the commissioners have approved the plan changes," he says.
He's concerned the commissioners are passing the buck by saying issues such as wastewater, flooding and pollution can be dealt with later through the resource consent process.
That leaves too many unanswered questions, he says.
"It seems that the experts can say ‘trust us, we know what we are doing' and then approval is granted."
Trevor Heaphy's front deck overlooks the site of the industrial park and his home will be directly downwind from any dust or pollution produced.
Property prices in the area have dived and those closest to the quarry are nearly impossible to sell, he says.
Now he worries he will have to wade through hundreds of resource consent negotiations over the next decades as new businesses build at the park.
The society is still deciding whether to fight the development. It has one month to decide whether to take Stevenson Group to the Environment Court and will be consulting with its members and legal team, Mr Mathias says.
The hearing panel was sympathetic towards residents but decided Auckland's urgent need for industrial land outweighed the negative effects.
The decision made special note of a submission from Papakura High School, which said the jobs Drury South would provide could be a "game changer" for its pupils.
Stevenson Group's response to the decision is cautiously positive. Spokeswoman Alison Hunter says the company is "pleased that this area will ultimately become an important employment and business centre" and is looking forward to helping provide jobs in South Auckland.
The decision provides clarity for Stevensons and the community after years of uncertainty, she says, but it's just one stage in a lengthy and complex project.
The company has predicted the first businesses could move onsite in 2020.
Go to aucklandcouncil.govt.nz to see the commissioners' decision documents.
■ Stevenson Group plans to backfill and concrete 223 hectares of low-lying farmland around the Drury quarry to form the park's base. The remaining area will be used for stormwater ponds, roading and public open spaces, with a similar feel to Highbrook Business Park – albeit double the size.
■ Stevenson predicts the park could create 7000 permanent jobs and another 12,000 indirectly in the region. It says the park could eventually add $780 million to Auckland's annual gross domestic product and have regional economic benefits of $2.3 billion per year.
■ It would mean big changes to infrastructure in the area, affecting local roads, the southern motorway, the Mill Rd extension and decisions about where to put new housing.
■ Watercare also wants a new treatment plant in the south to deal with the park's wastewater.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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