Major Tait building plans signalled

MICHAEL BERRY
Last updated 05:00 22/09/2012

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Christchurch electronics company Tait Communications is racing ahead with its plans for an enlarged campus behind its existing Wairakei Rd building.

It has applied for Christchurch City Council resource consent to build two buildings, increase its parking and create a slow-running stream to deal with stormwater and give a campus feel.

The largest building is two storeys, with a 3500-square-metre footprint, complete with a cafe and atrium.

It would be filled with existing staff who, for the past few years, have been housed in leased premises at the corner of Roydvale Ave and Wairakei Rd as the company expanded beyond the office which has been its home since the 1980s.

The other building is a 2000sqm single-storey data centre which would be built and occupied by an unnamed partner on Tait land.

Tait finance director David Wade said the new two-storey building would unify the workforce on the north side of Wairakei Rd and provide space for an extra 100 staff - two years growth at the company's current rate.

"We have 1000 staff crossings [of Wairakei Rd] each day. It's a busy road and it's getting busier and it's not something we want to continue to do."

The publicly notified consent was lodged to get the project moving as quickly as possible, he said.

Resource consent is needed because the project is on rural-zoned land, bought by Tait in the last few years.

The company has lodged a plan-change application to convert the land to a business zone, but it could not wait for that to be finalised before starting expansion, he said. "This is very much a fast-track project we're running."

Tait's resource management consultant, Kim McCracken, said the plan change would be opened to public submissions, then reopened for new submissions on those already entered, before a hearing and decision. It would take six to nine months to get through.

Tait's business has been growing strongly in recent years and it has about 630 staff in the city. It needs another 50 highly skilled staff, but has struggled to attract talent, Wade said. Many times Tait "had people at the altar", only for problems with housing, insurance, amenities or other issues to dissuade them, he said. "We're competing in a global talent pool, so being able to provide facilities and a good working environment is part of that equation."

The purpose-built structures would help draw staff, he said.

He hoped to lodge a building consent application with final designs by next month. Services consents had already been filed, he said. All going well, construction should start in November and would take about a year.

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"We've tried to take a collaborative approach. We've talked to local neighbours and told them what we're doing, so there should be no surprises. Everyone we've spoken to seems generally supportive and, of course, we're in a resource consent process now so we'll find out in due course."

Further stages of the 10.6-hectare campus would be built dependent on demand from potential businesses or Tait's growth, he said. "If growth continues, we could have stage two started before the first stage is finished."

- BusinessDay.co.nz

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