In a swiftly-growing city desperate for more houses, the Unitec land off Carrington Rd offers great opportunity. Before too much longer (though it’s anyone’s guess how much longer), a new town will start to rise there, as the presently spread-out Unitec contracts to a smaller parcel of land – opening up most of the huge block (along with Ngāti Whātua and their land parcels alongside Oakley Creek) to new housing and some commercial activity, like retail and retirement village..
The proposals are very much in the early stage, but indications are there could be as many as 3000 terraced units, apartments and town houses – posing a stack of questions about the impact on the wider area.
Unitec itself describes the project like this: “the new Wairaka Precinct will redefine urban development to create a place where learning, living, working and recreation co-exist.”.
As Mt Albert town planner Craig Magee discusses here, to get to where we are hasn’t happened overnight and the community need for transparency hasn’t always been high on the agenda for the land owners.
Along with MARA, which has been closely involved at all stages, Craig has given his expertise and voice on behalf of the community. In this article, he traces the steps taken to create the Wairaka Precinct containing the Unitec land, which ultimately provides a pathway under the Unitary Plan for the proposed vast new housing development.
When will the first homes start rising? Probably not any time soon – at least on the bulk of the land, because Unitec first needs to sort out its own precinct, and that will take years from start to finish. However, their architects and engineers are no doubt working at pace behind the scenes as Unitec maps its future.
The other point is whether Unitec wants to be a property developer. It may make more sense to get its own precinct in place, and then sell the remainder of the land to cover the re-establishment costs.
Meanwhile, the Ngati Whatua development company has started the subdivision consent process on their block at the end of Laurel Ave. And the community waits to see what is revealed in the “freshening” of the Unitec masterplan – expected in October/November. This link offers an outline of what is envisaged.