Te Awa plan draws support

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Most submitters support a plan change by Perry Group which would allow it to go ahead with its Te Awa Lakes water theme park and housing subdivision north of Hamilton.

Hamilton City Council notified the Proposed Plan Change on November 1 for public consultation and submissions. The private plan change applies to a 62 hectare block of land north of Hutchinson Road, between Waikato Expressway and the Waikato River. The land is currently located within the Te Rapa North Industrial Zone.

The council received 62 submissions, in the first round of consultation, 47 in favour, 10 against and five neutral.

Tourism operators and many individual submitters supported Perry Group’s plan change while big industrial players such as Fonterra, Open Country Dairy, Affco and Ports of Auckland opposed it.

The plan change would mean the 62 hectare block of land would become three zones; a Major Facilities Zone with a visitor accommodation area to enable the establishment of a tourism and recreation destination incorporating an adventure park; a Medium Density Residential Zone which will enable the construction of a mix of single dwellings, duplexes and apartments; a Business Zone which will enable small neighbourhood shops, restaurants, cafes, licensed premises, small offices, banks, doctors rooms, light service industries and tourism facilities. This zone will also enable the opportunity for upper floor apartments.

Supporters included Hobbiton Movie Set’s Russell Alexander who said the tourism development would be good for the Waikato region, especially the overflow from the Auckland market.

Waitomo Adventures chief executive Nicholas Andreef said the development enabled a positive gateway into Hamilton.

He described Te Awa Lakes as “a once in a generation opportunity to change the city’s perception paradigm from cow town to progressive”.

“It complements the Te Awa River Ride and the Waikato River and the activities will create a wow factor generating real excitement.

“The adventure park would provide a unique amenity to the community in a city often criticised for a lack of activities,” said Mr Andreef.

Vanessa Mills from Waikato River Explorer said Hamilton needs to promote tourism and have activities that will encourage visitors to come here and spend.

“Promotion of the region and the mighty Waikato River has to be part of this and Te Awa Lakes will create the opportunity to finally do this.”

Waikato Tainui also supports the plan provided indigenous place names are used, archaeological sites, water quality and traditional food gathering sites are protected.

The majority of opponents were industrial players such as Fonterra, Open Country Dairy, Affco NZ and Ports of Auckland who said the Te Rapa North Industrial Zone was set up to minimise the risk of reverse sensitivity issues arising by residential housing being created.

Affco called for the plan change application to be rejected as it would bring about the loss of important future industrial land in the area, and would potentially result in unacceptable reverse sensitivity issues.

“These factors will all contribute to a potential risk that companies such as Affco will look elsewhere for future expansion requirements, with associated long-term loss of employment and economic opportunities for the city.”

Fonterra said the establishment of a significant number of residential dwellings on the Perry site will have substantial reverse sensitivity effects on Fonterra’s operations at the Te Rapa site.

Ports of Auckland said it is in the process of establishing an ‘inland freight hub’ across 33ha of land at the Horotiu Industrial Park.

“Key to the successful and efficient operation of the freight hub is ensuring that the road and rail network can operate efficiently and effectively, and without constraint from non-industrial forms of development.”
A second round of submissions is to close on February 2.

In a separate process which is running in a similar timeframe, Perry Group has lodged applications for two Special Housing Areas in the same 62hectare block to create 1100 houses. The creation of Special Housing Areas is possible under a Housing Accord signed with the Government a year ago. Like the plan change application, the Special Housing Area applications have to go through a hearings process.

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Geoff Taylor

Waikato Business News editor Geoff Taylor. Email: geoff@wbn.co.nz

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