Tainui faces fight for $3b inland port

KASHKA TUNSTALL
Last updated 08:21 26/12/2013
Mike Pohio
Bruce Mercer/ Fairfax NZ

Tainui Group Holdings CEO, Mike Pohio, on the Ruakura site planned for a $3billion inland port.

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Public submissions on Tainui Group Holdings' proposed Ruakura Inland Port has found substantial opposition to the $3.3 billion development from local residents.

The commercial arm of Tainui-Waikato and Chedworth Properties Limited jointly lodged a private plan change request with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) in June.

The plan change would enable the two companies to sidestep roadblocks in the Hamilton City Council's Proposed District Plan and begin development of a 389-hectare commercial hub in Ruakura, southeast of Hamilton and 3 kilometres from the city centre.

TGH owns 299ha and Chedworth Properties 78ha. Just over 2ha is in other ownership and road reserve and railway designations are 9.3ha.

The plan for the commercial hub included an industrial park, a "knowledge" area, a suburban centre, medium-density housing, and open spaces.

The application has been referred to an independent board of inquiry, which was appointed in September.

In November, the plan change was publicly notified and the EPA put out a call for submissions on the proposal.

The EPA received and has published 77 submissions made over Tainui and Chedworth's application, with nearly half of that number opposing the plan in its entirety and asking the EPA to decline the application.

A further 14 submissions partially opposed the plan, seeking for the plan change to be either declined, or for conditions to be attached to its approval.

Of the 51 local residents who weighed in on the development, the majority wanted the application rejected, citing possible noise pollution, traffic concerns, drainage and storm issues, and property devaluation as some of the reasons.

The Ruakura Residents' Group, Newstead Residents Association and Fairview Downs Residents and Owners Association all opposed the plan in full, asking the EPA to decline Tainui's request. Only the Silverdale Residents' Group found support for parts of the plan - the residential and knowledge zone areas, and the green spaces planned for - but ultimately still asked the court to decline the application.

The Hamilton City Council said it was partially in support of the plan change, but wanted the EPA to make "substantial amendments" to the architecture of the proposal as well as provisions around administration, infrastructure and environmental effects.

The Waikato District Council and the Waikato Regional Council both said they supported the plan in part, but wanted to see conditions placed around how the development would affect things such as transport, biosecurity and biodiversity in the area.

Six submissions, including Tainui Group Holdings' joint submission with Chedworth Properties, supported the plan change in full.

The Waikato branch of the Property Council, and Port of Tauranga both stuck up their hands in favour of the application.

Company Waikato Krishna Ltd also supported the plan in full. The company owns more than 5ha of land adjacent to the plan change area and said the proposal would help spur on urbanisation in the area. T

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wo private residents also gave their vote of support for the application.

A summary of submissions will be made available on January 18, when the EPA will call for further submissions to be made.

kashka.tunstall@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

- © Fairfax NZ News

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