The push to develop land alongside Whangaparaoa College has intensified, with a proposal that allows for 120 dwellings across two sites put before the school recently.
This has since been rejected, but the organisation that prepared the proposal, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), has refocused its attention on the strip of college land alongside Whangaparaoa Road.
That land is currently being readied for sale by the Ministry of Education.
Last term, a representative of the MBIE approached the college in its role as administrator of the Government’s Land for Housing programme. This requires MBIE “to identify vacant or underutilised land (in this case, Crown-owned land) that is suitable and available for housing development, and to facilitate the construction of dwellings to increase housing supply, in collaboration with iwi and private developers”.
The Ministry brought with it plans for a high density development on the 0.79ha of land that runs along Whangaparaoa Road, west from the corner of Stanmore Bay Road to opposite the town centre, as well as the 2.19ha north of the college’s main driveway.
This is the second time that these two pieces of land have been considered for residential development bundled together (HM July 19, 2017). Both are zoned Residential – Terraced Housing and Apartments.
However, Graeme Williams, who was Acting Principal at the time the approach was made, says this proposal was far more intensive than what was suggested last year, with around 120 dwellings, including multi-storey apartments and a proportion of affordable housing.
He says the college’s board is not against the idea of developing the site, but there were no benefits for the school in what was proposed and many concerns including traffic and access.
Key to the MBIE reconsidering the project was that the road they planned to use as an accessway to the development is not a road, but the college’s main driveway – making the 2.19ha north of the school’s car park unsuitable for development at this stage.
This was confirmed by the Ministry of Education. Its head of education infrastructure service, Kim Shannon, says MBIE asked whether or not the surplus education land (0.79 ha) alongside Whangaparaoa College, which was being disposed of through the normal Crown process, could be expanded to 2ha.
“We advised that the school will require the expanded section of land for its current use and for future development,” Ms Shannon says.
MBIE crown land development manager, Matt Fraser, says while the larger site is no longer available, MBIE is in discussions (via Land Information NZ) regarding the 0.79ha lot by Whangaparaoa Rd. “These discussions are at a very early stage and are without commitment to any housing development,” Mr Fraser says.
The land includes native trees that could be close to 100 years old, most of which appear to have been felled in the graphic on p1.
The proposal is a graphic illustration of the intensity of development that is possible on the site, despite congested traffic and overburdened social infrastructure.
Whangaparaoa principal James Thomas says it is important that any development proposed by a new owner of the land takes into consideration the needs and interests of the school and the community.
He says that as well as the Ministry’s interest in the site, potentially it could be sold to a large development company. “As long as they did everything within the planning provisions, and without needing permission from the neighbours, we could have no chance to object, or even work with them in the best interests of the college,” he says.