Town progress raises fragmentation worries

DELWYN DICKEY
Last updated 05:00 24/06/2014
Grange development

NEW RETAIL: Designed to allow the former Grange garden centre to operate, rezoning could now see a new separate commercial area on State Highway 1.

Steve Garner
STEVE GARNER: Care needs to be taken or piecemeal development in the Warkworth area will split the town.

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A bundle of new subdivisions is under way or on the horizon for the Warkworth area and eastern beaches.

While that's good for the area, commercial expansion is also needed, Rodney Local Board deputy chairman Steve Garner says.

The charms of the area has seen the northern region flourish and become a tourism hot spot. But jobs outside the hospitality industry have always been limited and this sees a strong commuter workforce.

So attracting and retaining new business is important, Garner says. But he has concerns recent interest in the area could end up fragmenting the town.

There are two retail areas in Warkworth. The main one is by the Mahurangi River, with the other off Woodcocks Rd partially occupied by Warkworth Mitre 10 Mega.

Before Progressive Enterprises pushed for a Countdown store in the central retail area, all large footprint retail was destined for the Woodcocks Rd area.

While Mitre 10 Mega has been successful, the Woodcocks Rd commercial area hasn't had the pulling power for other retailers, which prefer a supermarket as the anchor business.

Now it seems supermarket competitor Foodstuffs is behind the purchase of 9.6ha on the town's northern outskirts at the Hudson Rd intersection.

At the southern end of town the old Grange garden centre site has been sold and resource consent sought for a 22-tenancy development which could include a BP station and McDonald's.

There is now the potential for four distinct retail areas, with a vehicle needed to reach each of them.

While pleased the Grange site could generate 120 jobs, Garner is concerned it will split the town and cause congestion on State Highway 1.

The 400 sections planned behind the Grange site in the rural land between Pulham and McKinney roads should be finished first, he says.

About 30 new jobs are likely to be attached to retirement apartments to be built in central Warkworth, behind the historic Settlement Hotel, likely to start in the next 18 months.

The complex will have 100 independent living units, with 25 care centre beds.

Expansion at the Summerset retirement home, with more sites next year, will also add another five jobs.

Other subdivisions in Warkworth are being developed including on the western slopes overlooking the Mahurangi River, nine lots in Blue Gum Drive, with others getting under way behind the scenes.

A 66-lot staged site off Mason Heights St opposite Mitre 10 has had a survey plan granted, and a 19-lot subdivision plan has been approved next to existing housing in Melwood Drive.

Snells Beach is also seeing considerable activity with several subdivisions under way, including Kawau Waters with 21 of 54 sections off Tamatea Drive developed with prices ranging from $280,000 to $740,000.

The last of Mahurangi Ridge's 82 sites have been sold, with only a quarter yet to be built on.

A rezoning application for medium-density housing in Dawson Rd opposite Snells Beach School allowing 75 sections, has an Auckland Council hearing due in the next few months.

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Plan approval has been given for 29 lots in Arabella Lane, with 48 sites surveyed and approved at Robinia Place.

Further north, 31 sites off Tamahunga Drive have had their survey plan approved with earthworks already under way on some.

Closer to the coast there are several large empty sites on the market at Pt Wells with the 33-site first stage of an 89-lot residential subdivision now complete.

But Garner is unhappy about increased development in the low-lying harbour community, approved by the former Rodney District Council, which he says will create problems in the future.

The area is a flood plain and will soon be affected by rising sea levels, he says.

With most development in the south of Warkworth and Snells Beach, Garner also questions the push for a link road from north of the town through to Matakana Rd and says the Hill St intersection needs sorting first, including where Matakana traffic entering the intersection has right of way over Snells Beach traffic.

The Maunsell bridge on the Western Collector route also needs finishing to ease Falls Rd and encourage development in the Mitre 10 Mega area, he says.

- Rodney Times

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