The affordable housing development is proposed on a 3.3ha property between Hall Rd and Mill Lane in Kerikeri. Photo / Peter de Graaf
An affordable housing development in Kerikeri with 56 two and three bedroom homes could also create a new bypass road around the town centre.
Municipal corporation Far North Holdings, which manages the project, filed
a resource consent application for the Hall Rd site on behalf of landowner Sir Owen Glenn.
The 3.3 ha site is currently a pasture bordered by Hall Rd, Ranui Ave/Charlotte Kemp Drive, Mill Lane Industrial Estate and a major new retirement village being developed by Arvida.
If the plan is approved, most lots will be around 300m² – less than a third of the traditional quarter-acre section – with larger lots of up to 720m² along the property lines. .
The houses, mostly two-storey, range from 109 m² (two bedrooms) to 174 m² (three bedrooms with indoor garage).
However, what makes the proposal more attractive to residents of Kerikeri is that it would create two new connecting roads.
Mill Lane would be extended from the VTNZ test station to connect to Hall Rd, and Ranui Ave would connect to the new Mill Lane extension.
This would create two potential bypasses allowing traffic from the fast-growing Inlet Rd area to reach State Highway 10 without having to drive through downtown.
A Mill Lane-Hall Rd bypass has been talked about for decades, but a lack of funding means it never came off the council’s drawing board.
The new links could ease congestion in central Kerikeri, but they may not go down well with residents of Hall Rd and Ranui Ave.
Ranui Ave is a residential street while Hall Rd is a narrow road of rural standards already facing a large increase in traffic due to the construction of a retirement village. A trail, funded by Arvida, was built last year.
Title documents show that the site is owned by Go Bloodstock New Zealand Ltd, which is owned by Sir Owen Glenn.
The sole director of Go Bloodstock is businessman and property developer Bill Birnie, who is also a director of Far North Holdings – the same council-owned company that runs the project.
Far North Holdings chief executive Andy Nock said the company has offered its project management expertise and services for a commercial fee, in the same way it has managed Provincial Growth Fund projects in the district for trusts and community groups.
He was confident that the conflict of interest created by Birnie’s roles was properly managed.
“Whenever there is a conflict of interest, if the directors are acting for an owner or are representing an owner, as in this case Bill is, then that is declared – and all discussions and decisions that the council takes are carried out in their absence.”
Nock said it’s not a social housing estate, but is aimed at young professionals and families who can’t get their foot on the property ladder.
Many people were unsupported in the current Kerikeri property market which was dominated by large houses on large sections with prices to match.
Potential buyers could include professionals working at Arvida’s Te Puna Waiora retirement village who might otherwise be excluded from Kerikeri.
The development could also be appealing to people who wanted a smaller, more manageable section, Nock said.
From humble beginnings, Glenn, now 82, made his fortune in logistics in the United States. In 2016, he was worth around $400 million.
In 2002, he donated $7.5 million for a new business school at the University of Auckland. It was believed to be the largest private donation in New Zealand education history.
He also made substantial donations to Christchurch earthquake recovery.
Glenn’s donations to Labor and NZ First, however, ended in controversy when they were initially refused by both political parties. This, along with Glenn’s claim that he was considered an honorary consul in Monaco, led to a public falling out with then Prime Minister Helen Clark.
Glenn and fellow Kiwi businessman Eric Watson owned the Warriors rugby league franchise.
Most recently, they were embroiled in a lawsuit over UK property interests with a UK court ordering Watson to pay Glenn £129 million ($248 million) in damages.
Glenn was knighted in 2013 for his services to philanthropy.
Resource consent is required for the development of Hall Rd due to the extensive earthworks and, due to its relatively high density, rule violations regarding sunlight and impermeable surfaces (i.e. i.e. the percentage of land covered by houses, concrete or other surfaces that may not absorb water).
The land is zoned residential and is within the “benefit zone” for the town of Kerikeri’s water supply and new sewage treatment plant.
The consent request raises concerns about whether the Cobham Rd pumping station and parts of the sewer system can handle the increased volume of sewage.
Possible solutions included an on-site pumping station or an off-site upgrade of council infrastructure. If the latter was required, the application did not clearly indicate whether the ratepayers or the promoter would pay the bill.
The solicitor asked the council whether its sewer system and new sewage treatment plant had enough capacity to accommodate Hall Rd’s construction boom.
In April, the lawyer revealed that a developer planned to build 300 houses in the center of Kerikeri, in an area between the city center, the heritage bypass and the Kerikeri River. The land is currently covered with gum trees.