A development company got more than they bargained for at a community meeting recently when a crowd of around 300 people turned up to hear their vision for a new township in the area.
Eager residents crammed into Mangawhai Museum on June 23, and spilled out into the car park, as all ears tuned in to hear Viranda Partners’ future plans for Mangawhai Central [MC], formerly Estuary Estate.
Chairman for the property investment and land development firm, Andrew Guest commented after the meeting that he was surprised at not only the amount of people who attended but also the general feel of the crowd.
“I actually thought there would be less people and more objections,” he says. “The meeting was extremely more positive than I thought it would be.”
Mangawhai Central is presented as the future ‘heartbeat of the area’ uniting two current shopping areas – the Village and the Heads – with a range of facilities including a medical centre, supermarket, secondary school, retirement village and cafes designed around a town square.
An assortment of residential housing and land packages are also on offer and the company declare ‘Mangawhai’s natural environment will inspire and lead the project.’
Viranda are hoping to have the area ready for occupation by 2020.
Guest answered a raft of enquiries regarding the development, including the possibility of a public swimming pool, movie theatre and college as well as supporting infrastructure, size of residential sections and the prospect of further traffic congestion on Molesworth Drive which he said he was ‘very conscious of’.
He also reassured residents that locals will be the first to be consulted regarding matters in the initial developmental stages and ongoing tender process.
“Mangawhai Central is for Mangawhai residents,” he said. “Providing they are available, can supply efficiently and on a 'reasonably' competitive basis, local suppliers of products and services will be preferred over products and services offered from outside the area. Our project team are focused to ensure that the community are listened to and engaged where possible throughout the journey.”
The impact of the development on the surrounding environment also raised a number of questions, with concerns over the nature buffer between neighbouring residence, Sunlea Lane and possible pollutants being washed into the harbour considering 50 percent of the MC boundary lies along the water’s edge.
Guest, who was a frequent visitor to Mangawhai as a child, stated his company had ‘no plans to touch the buffer’ and also proclaimed that ‘nothing we do there, no development will impact the harbour’.
“I feel very strongly about this. We are completely committed to the Mangawhai community here… partly because we love it,” he says. “We envision trees, lakes, park benches and cafes… when people look at the town we want it to be a visually, aesthetically-pleasing feature.”
MC’s prospective population is estimated to be around 1500 based on the potential 500-550 permanent and holiday housing proposed.
Due to Viranda’s Northridge Estate housing project in Flat Bush, South Auckland, where land is being divided up into 256-344sqm lots, there was some concern MC may also result in similar-sized sections.
Guest received applause when he stated that the ‘properties should be kept as large as possible’.
“The smaller size is out of the question for Mangawhai Central,” he assured. “If this development starts to imitate Flat Bush, we won’t be invited back!”
The current existing plan is for larger lot sizes of 800sqm-1000sqm, although Guest did indicate that the council 'as a general principle would be likely to support and encourage' smaller lot sizes for some areas.
“Greater intensification will not be the governing objective to the development as in many cases it tends to lower quality,” he says. “The primary focus will be the diversification of residential products… that meet the demands of the community and potential buyers. Smaller lots may permit some townhouse development or more affordable freehold lots but we haven't yet mapped out the residential area in detail which is a process that will take place over the next 3–6 months.”
A possible Asian connection to the development was also queried which Guest confirmed.
“Our principal client is a Chinese New Zealand citizen and the minority shareholder is a Chinese investment company. Viranda has an equity position in the overall project. No shareholder intends or wishes to play an active role and they have placed the governance of the project through Viranda.”
Further consultations are being planned for later in the year where more specific details will be available to the community.
“Possibly around October, I’ll be able to present a higher level plan to the community which will possibly receive a higher level of objections,” he says. “However we want it to be a completely transparent process… if the community does not like something we won’t go ahead with it.”
- By Julia Wade
POSITIVE: Viranda Partners Ltd chairman, Andrew Guest (right) and associates tackle some tough questions, but also receive applause and smiles from a receptive audience.
“I feel very strongly about this. We are completely committed to the Mangawhai community here…”
- Andrew Guest