Metlifecare says its proposed retirement village in Red Beach would provide much needed residential accommodation, as well as freeing up homes that are put on the market when people move into the village, but opponents say it is out of scale with the surrounding area.
Metlifecare’s proposal to build a large retirement village in Red Beach went before commissioners last week.
The hearing, held in Orewa on October 11, 12 and 14, was before independent commissioners Jenny Hudson (chair), Gavin Lister and Jan Heijs.
Metlifecare proposes to build a village on its 5ha site on the former Peninsula Golf course, which will include 393 apartments, a 68-bed care centre, 28 villas and facilities such as a swimming pool and bowling green. There were 32 submissions on the proposal – the majority from Red Beach residents in opposition who say the building is out of scale with its residential surrounds.
Parts of the buildings exceed the nine metre height control rules and Council planners have recommended that resource consent be declined.
Further contentious issues raised at the hearing may see the commissioners seek legal advice. At issue is the potential impact of appeals made on Auckland Council’s proposed Unitary Plan. Council’s representatives said at the hearing that the outcome of those appeals may affect rules relevant to Metlifecare’s resource consent, but the company’s lawyer, Michael Savage, disagrees. Council’s reporting planner Simon Titter told the hearing that a decision is due by the end of this month as to how Unitary Plan rules that are already operative could be affected by appeals.
Ms Hudson said commissioners may seek their own legal advice.
There is also dispute over where the measurement of the height of buildings is made from, with the applicant’s lawyer saying it should be from “the natural ground level as at April 12, 2012”.
The proposal includes a café and small retail precinct, which would be accessible to the public. Metlifecare’s lawyer argued at the hearing that that this commercial aspect, which does not normally come within the definition of what is permitted in a retirement village, could be treated as separate. “If you put a red line through the café and dairy you could turn those into units and come back another day,” he said.
The buildings that infringe the height restrictions are in the centre of the complex, away from its boundaries. As the surrounding residential area is still under development, the western boundary of the proposed village is the one most residents are concerned about, as it is alongside established homes. Hibiscus Hospice, which is on this boundary, has provided written approval, as have Fletchers Residential which is developing the surrounding land.
Metlifecare’s lawyer says the company has offered to consult with neighbours on the western boundary regarding landscaping.
However, for Philip and Jill Crow and Hilton Boshard, who live in John Dee Crescent, the issue is clear. “From our perspective, those buildings will take the sky away,” Mr Crow said.
Red Beach Society was incorporated to fight the proposal. Its submission says that the proposed village “is an over intensive use of the site” resulting in significant adverse affects on the residential environment.
Commissioner Jan Heijs said at the hearing that Metlifecare’s lawyer’s presentation did not address the bulk and scale of the buildings, to which he replied that there are no District Plan rules relating to the length of buildings, only the height.
Metlifecare’s group development manager Grant Arbuckle told the hearing that the inclusion of breaks in the building to reduce the bulk would not work for village residents and would cost too much. “The inclusion of breaks in the building will create construction inefficiencies that will detrimentally impact the project’s financial viability,” he said.
Metlifecare is investing around $150 million in building the village and is hoping to begin work in October 2017.
The commissioners have 15 working days from the close of the hearing to make their decision.