The Environment Court has given three of Auckland’s biggest upcoming developments the thumbs up after Auckland Council appealed its own decision to rezone Drury land earlier this year

Auckland Council’s independent commissioners approved the private plan changes needed to facilitate the development of Kiwi Property’s Drury Town Centre project, as well as projects by Oyster Capital and Fulton Hogan, in May this year.

The council aired grievances during the hearings process and appealed the decision of the commissioners within the 30-day window, a move Kiwi Property labelled as “unprecedented” at the time.

The developers applied in July 2020 to rezone the land in East Drury from future urban to a mix of residential, business and open space zones. The council had been opposed to the changes as it would have to foot the bill for more than $1 billion in infrastructure.

Necessary infrastructure includes $600 million for transport-related projects and a further $500m for stormwater, sewerage, parks and community facilities.

Following discussions between the parties, a joint memorandum was filed with the Environment Court and on November 1 it re-confirmed rezoning of the land at Drury was appropriate.

Sylvia Park owners Kiwi Property said the Environment Court’s decision meant Drury would be rezoned as a metropolitan town centre able to be constructed up to 72m high.

Kiwi Property’s general manager of development Ian Passau said the decision meant progress on the substantial South Auckland mixed-use project could begin in earnest.

“Drury is expected to become home to around 60,000 people in the next 30 years, providing a unique opportunity to build a city from the ground up. Today’s ruling confirms Kiwi Property’s site as the location for the future town centre and a nexus for development in the area over the coming decades.”

Kiwi Property already had an earthworks consent meaning it could go ahead with enabling activity while awaiting the Environment Court decision.

Who’s paying

Last month Auckland Council released a proposed contributions policy for the Drury area, which it expected to cost $2.9b in infrastructure spend over 30 years as 22,000 houses were built.

Its plan for the area includes 43 new parks, a community centre, pool and a library and Drury is expected to be around the same size as Napier over the next 40 years.

The proposed change to the contributions policy would see Drury developers pay an average of $83,251 per household or household equivalent, with charges differing depending on the benefits of each area.

The existing contributions policy has a contribution price of $22,564 per household, which would recover $399m in the period to 2031.

The council said developers had raised concerns higher contributions prices would raise house prices, but that independent economic advice did not find any evidence it would lead to higher house prices over time.

Consultation on the proposal to substantially increase contributions will end next week and be considered by council in March 2023.

Andrew Bevin is an Auckland-based business reporter who covers major industries, markets, regulation, aged care and fisheries.

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