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Housing a possibility

DELWYN DICKEY
Last updated 05:00 18/02/2014
Thompson's rd land

BIG PORJECT: The Thompson’s Rd land, with the Warkworth Observatory and Telecom facility in the background, could become a satelite town to Warkworth.

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A large block of land for sale south of Warkworth re-zoned future residential has some neighbours worried it may become a Special Housing Area.

The 46.6 hectare farmland site at the end of Thompson Rd falls away toward State Highway 1.

While 6.7ha would remain rural production, close to 40ha is marked as future urban under the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan.  

Real estate agents Jones Lang LaSalle says under an urban zoning the area is able to accommodate up to 500 houses.

The prospect of having that many houses and more than 1400 people on their doorstep is daunting for some neighbours, though it may be three years before the new urban zoning would come into effect. 

More worrying for them is the prospect of the land being allocated as a Special Housing Area - SHA - which could see development start almost immediately and could have denser mixed housing, including three-storey terraced housing.

Roger Grace, whose bush block is almost surrounded by the land for sale, says he has concerns fast tracking of SHAs takes away people's usual rights of objection to large scale development on their doorstep.

Hopeful the land will remain future urban, he is now rethinking his building plans.

Rodney Local Board deputy chairman Steven Garner says people have good reason to be concerned about SHAs as Warkworth's future urban land is three times the current town's area and much larger compared to other areas. 

The aim under the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act is to have 39,000 new homes or new sites in Auckland consented over the next three years.

Twenty-two areas have already been settled, with more expected to be announced mid-year. 

This will continue untilnumbers of new homes are met over the next three years.

Any land zoned future urban can be considered, although it seems larger chunks would be more attractive.

The Auckland Council, with input from local boards, recommends to government which areas are suitable, with areas proposed by developers, around 200 so far, often the catalyst.

''Local boards only get to see the areas being considered quite late in the process. While they can make recommendations they can't veto areas put forward,'' Mr Garner says.

Up until now Silverdale has been the northern most area with 680 new housing sites on 53ha, and around 6ha in parks and reserves. 

Part of the area was already earmarked for development as part of the massive Millwater project.

But the council is not ruling out any areas for this expansion, including Warkworth with a huge future urban area on its boundary. 

This could conceivably see a satellite development spring up some distance from Warkworth that is as big as the current town, Mr Garner says.

Though he says they haven't been notified of any proposals yet it seems likely the next round of SHAs will include something at Warkworth. 

Some Huapai-Kumeu residents say they were given little or no warning when the 65.1ha of land that makes up the Huapai Triangle became an SHA with up to about 2000 new homes. 

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The population is now about 2300.

Concerns were voiced about pressure on existing schools and roading infrastructure.

The land for sale at Warkworth also backs onto the radio quiet valley owned by Telecom and home to AUT University's radio telescope facility the Warkworth Observatory.

The facility relies on radio quiet conditions to operate effectively, and there are measures in place to keep low frequency interference from the likes of mobile phones and other household devices, including motors.

Covenants already in place around the valley should protect it from possible interference from future housing development and the board would take the need for radio quiet into consideration should a proposal for the land be put to it, Mr Garner says. 

Encroaching urban areas is a world wide problem for radio astronomy facilities, AUT Institute for Radio Astronomy and Space Research director Dr Sergei Gulyaev says. 

But he is confident existing covenants will be adequate to protect the integrity of their operation. 

Even if the land concerned doesn't get development approval, there will undoubtedly be other projects put to the board which will be unpopular, Mr Garner says. 

- Rodney Times

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