Govt backs developers on Three Kings site

Govt backs developers on Three Kings site

The Government has gone in to bat for an Auckland housing development being held up by the protest of residents.

Environment Minister Nick Smith and Housing New Zealand have joined the legal proceedings over appeals lodged against the $1.2 billion redevelopment of the Three Kings quarry.

He admits it is an "unusual step" for the Government to do, but Dr Smith believes the size and scale of the project means they need to "make a firm stand in favour of these sorts of plan changes".

The development would change an "ugly, disused" 22-hectare quarry into 1500 apartments and townhouses, retail space and new sports fields.

"It is exactly the sort of development we need to overcome Auckland's growth problems by providing intensive and integrated housing on key public transport corridors only eight kilometres from the city centre," Dr Smith says.

Residents are unhappy with what they believe is a rushed development and a wasted opportunity.

Consultation on the quarry site began in 2008, with more than 70 public, community and local board meetings and hui relating to it.

A plan change application was lodged in September 2014, with 237 submissions received -- two-thirds of which were in support.

Approval was eventually granted by Auckland Council in May.

But an appeal to the Environment Court was lodged on January 11 by the South Epsom Planning Group Incorporated and the Three Kings United Group Incorporated to try overturn the decision.

They want the site to be restored to pre-quarry levels and only low-rise housing to be built.

But Dr Smith says that would mean fewer than 1000 homes, make them more expensive and delay the project even more, possibly by another decade.

Only 1.4 hectares of the Three Kings site has been declared a Special Housing Area.

Using those special provisions has meant the council and Government have been able to "avoid these planning problems" in other areas.

Dr Smith believes the hold-up on the Three Kings development proves the need to overhaul the Resource Management Act.

The decision for the Government to step in was made last week at the first Cabinet meeting of the year.