Summerset overcomes major hurdle to $120 million Boulcott retirement village
Summerset has overcome a major legal hurdle to its plans for a $120 million retirement village in the Lower Hutt suburb of Boulcott.
The proposed village is on land that used to be part of two nearby golf courses and was made redundant when nearby stopbanks were upgraded.
Initial plans to build a retirement village with five-storey buildings were bitterly opposed by neighbours, who live in one of the most exclusive neighbourhoods in Lower Hutt.
Residents fear the village will be out of character with the neighbourhood, which features large character homes with formal gardens.
Objectors have withdrawn an appeal to the Environment Court to a plan change that was driven by Summerset. The change to the District Plan is now operative.
The change contains a height restriction of eight metres, half of what Summerset was hoping for, and design guides which requires taller structures to be built away from boundaries.
Chief executive Julian Cook confirmed Summerset was now concentrating on the consent process.
The design guide is "quite encouraging" as it gives Summerset a framework to work within, he said.
Summerset always believed the site was ideal for a retirement village and it remains committed to building what he said will be the "best" village of its type in New Zealand.
"We want to build a great village and have it sit well with the neighbours."
He was reluctant to suggest a timetable other than he hoped to see progress by the middle of the year.
"It has been a very long process to get to here but things are finally moving in the right direction."
Objector and local lawyer Ian McLauchlan is expecting the consent process to be highly complicated.
Rather than arguing the case in the Environment Court, the objectors decided to focus on the consent stage.
The design guide requires Summerset to build a village that is generally compatible with the neighbourhood, he said.
He expected Summerset will want to build higher than eight metres. That would make it a discretionary activity but until he sees the actual plan, he cannot comment on how the objectors would react.
The issue, he said, has always been whether or not the village is compatible with its neighbours.
"We have never, ever, opposed a development on that land. We have never opposed a retirement village, as such, what we have always said, is that it must be in keeping with the Boulcott area."
Cook said there is a shortage of retirement facilities in Lower Hutt and more than 300 people have already expressed interest.
"We know there are a huge number of people who want to move in."
Council officers said that it is likely to be a notified consent, heard by independent commissioners.