Hamilton’s northern gateway


Perry Group are poised to press go on their flagship mixed-use Te Awa Lakes development in north Hamilton, with earthworks likely to start mid year.

The 62 ha riverside site will be a highly visible city gateway for motorists arriving from the north along the expressway.

Resource consents have been lodged with Hamilton City Council, with the response due by mid April.

The master-planned development will feature residential, retail and tourism, including a water adventure park and river front amenity, transforming the former Perry sand quarry.

The imminent green light comes after a four year process that included an abortive bid for special housing area status supported by council but knocked back by central government.

When that happened, Perrys reverted to a private plan change, which was approved by commissioners in March 2020.

Te Awa Lakes project CEO Richard Coventry, who is leading the development with development director Lale Ieremia, expects Schick Civil Construction to start earthworks in June, with house construction likely early in 2022.

“It will be an exciting time to actually get something built on the land rather than being stuck in the planning process,” Coventry says.

Te Awa Lakes will be a mixed-use development featuring water activities and medium to high density housing, with some low density along the riverfront.

The waiting is almost over for Lale Ieremia, Simon Perry and Richard Coventry

The waiting is almost over for Lale Ieremia, Simon Perry and Richard Coventry

Perrys also owns a further 15 ha on the other side of the expressway, which comes under the Waikato District Council. Development there, intended to include a retirement village, will wait until the result of a district plan change, which Coventry expects won’t happen before the end of the year.

About 1300 properties are set to be built in total – 1000 on the Hamilton side of the expressway and 300 on the WDC side – and it is possible those numbers may rise. A hotel is also planned for the site.

Coventry says it is important to have plenty of amenity to go with the high density housing, which will include an affordable component.

“We’ve got the lakes and a lot of amenity,” he says. “So we’ve got a village centre that will be developed and walkways, wetland areas, open spaces.”

He paints a picture of residents having access to most of what they need locally, rather than a drive away. “You wake up in the morning and go down to the gym, go to a cafe, potentially work from home or from a serviced office within the precinct. Everything’s there on your doorstep.”

As something of a trailblazer in the Waikato for master-planned communities of its scale, Te Awa Lakes has drawn for design inspiration on New Zealand and international examples, including Hobsonville Point in Auckland, Tauriko Lakes in Tauranga and Pegasus in Christchurch.

Typologies will include standalone houses, terraced apartments, three level walk-ups and potentially multi-level apartments.

“There’s such a shortage of housing [in Hamilton]at the moment. We want to provide that solution and we think high-density product with plenty of amenity is more affordable, but also a good solution in terms of making the most out of limited infrastructure.

“Ten percent of the product in Te Awa Lakes needs to be 90 percent of the Hamilton median house price. So we’re looking at ways we can achieve that.”

Ieremia says they are looking to follow up on the Government’s housing announcement in March aimed at increasing home affordability. With Perry choosing to commit to about 100 affordable homes in the development, Government funding could assist its delivery.

Any approaches to Government will be coordinated, with Ieremia co-chairing the Waikato Housing Initiative which takes in projects across the region. “That’s a programme of housing that we will look for Government’s assistance on,” he says.

Te Awa Lakes also fits with long-term planning for the transport corridor to Auckland.

“We’ve got an opportunity to potentially work with the Hamilton to Auckland Corridor strategy and start one of the first major developments on that route that’s got a combination of live, work and play,” Ieremia says.

Coventry says the development’s final residential makeup will depend on developers and home builders and the sorts of products they want to bring to market.

Te Awa Lakes are close to selecting home builders and apartment developers to work on the site. “We need to protect the look and feel of the development, follow the design guidelines and ensure quality housing for seven to 10 years.”

Perrys has its own stormwater management plan on site and has already put in wastewater pipes and water pipes, and a roundabout. It has also reached an agreement with near neighbour Fonterra, which had earlier resisted the development. The agreement will see the two companies jointly developing a buffer area of about 20 hectares for commercial use as well as recreation with access to the Te Awa cycleway.

Perry Group chair Simon Perry says the two organisations are talking positively. “It will be a recreation and amenity area, not just for the residents, but [Hamiltonians can] bike out or drive out and enjoy some aqua activities, biking, climbing, that kind of thing.

“We’ve done a lot of homework on that from lockdown through to now. It’s actually trying to fit the long list of what we could do in there.”

The agreement has seen Te Awa’s commercial centre shift close to the buffer area, slightly south of its original position.

Depending on demand, Coventry expects it might take five to seven years to develop the full site on the Hamilton side, with amenity being developed during the process.

“It’s just such an exciting project for the region to be involved in, it is fantastic to be able to deliver alongside Simon and Lale. It’s going to be great.”

Perry says it’s been a long road to get to this point. “The market’s just got more and more hungry for this sort of product. It’s catching up to the vision really, isn’t it?” 


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