1491961766228 - Unlocking Avondale’s potential

Unlocking Avondale’s potential

It’s another promise of development for an Auckland suburb, but this time is different, local board members say.  

Avondale received approval from Auckland Council’s Planning Committee last month to upgrade from “support” development status to the next level, “unlock”. 

Panuku Development, Auckland’s urban regeneration agency, suggested the upgrade to include more projects, a spokesperson said.

Under the support category Panuku developed council-owned land only, whereas the new unlock status allowed it to facilitate private sector investment opportunities as well.

Duncan MacDonald, member of the Whau Local Board, said unlock meant council would do things for Avondale faster. 

In the past there had been much talk around development plans for Avondale and the “little bit” that had been done was not quick enough, he said.   

The Panuku spokesperson said unlock would mean more housing, public facilities, open spaces for the suburb and better connections to the train station.

MacDonald said council was considering a suggestion to allow money earned from land sales in Avondale to be credited to the suburb, instead of putting it back in a government pool as was done under the support category.

Panuku categorised Avondale and New Lynn as support locations in 2015. Another western suburb, Henderson, was placed in the unlock category in that year.

Prior to 2015 Avondale had five Special Housing Areas (SHAs) –  Racecourse Pde, Layard St, Trent St, Sandy Ln, and the Corner of Great North Rd and Walsall St.  

The purpose of a SHA was to fast-track housing development in an area. Within seven months of Panuku’s creation Larch St, Canal Rd and St Georges Rd were added to the list.  

In 2015 Panuku sold 3,498 square metre of council land located at 24-26 Racecourse Pde to Ockham Residential.

The agency said development was on track to deliver 72 new homes in the area by the end of 2017. 

But there were also setbacks to the development process.

In October 2016, the multi-million dollar Flo Apartments on Layard St fell through after the developer said there was a lack of funding to proceed further – even though 81 of the 91 units had been sold in the five-level block.

The New Zealand Housing Foundation has started construction on 33 new houses on Trent Street. The project was expected to finish by the end of this year.

At the end of last year Wilshire Group, a private developer, began work on 54 homes at Sandy Ln, a site neighbouring the Avondale Racecourse.

The Auckland Council website said 36 houses were planned for the corner of Great North Rd and Walsall St. 

The next step for Panuku was to present a high level project plan (HLPP) to the Planning Committee for approval later this year.

An HLPP presented the development potential of a location, Panuku said. The document reviewed earlier proposals and public input, and included new context for development.   

After the HLPP stage further and detailed project planning was required “to detail site feasibility and assessments and business cases as required”, Panuku’s website said.