Are we prepared though?
Note: I am not interesting in the foreign ownership debate that the following article covers over Lochinver Station. This blog post is looking at Stevenson’s Drury site and potential development in the surrounding area
Admittedly I was skimming through the said Stuff article over the Lochniver Station sale to the Chinese. However, when I came to the fact that Stevensons (known for concrete products) owned the Station and are selling it off to develop their Drury South Industrial Complex site I decided to have a closer read.
Lochinver Station sale to fund quarry operations
CATHERINE HARRIS Last updated 12:23 04/08/2014The sale of Lochinver Station near Taupo to a Chinese company will help free up capital for owners Stevenson Group to develop a huge industrial development in south Auckland.
Engineering, mining and quarrying firm Stevenson Group on Friday signed a deal to sell the 13,800 hectare Lochinver Station to Shanghai Pengxin.
The station, which is valued at more than $70m, is believed to be the second-biggest foreign acquisition of New Zealand land and is subject to Overseas Investment Office approval.
Pengxin also bought the Crafar farms for $200m in December 2012. They are managed by Landcorp.
Lochinver had been owned by the Stevenson Group for more than 50 years but the company’s managing director Mark Franklin said its sale would enable the company to develop a major new project around its large quarry operations in Drury.
‘‘Our core business is not really farming, our core business is quarries and concrete and protecting the quarry routes by doing the Drury south project, and now that we’ve got the private plan change, we’re going to have to start investing.’’
Spanning 220ha, the development will take 15 years and is expected to create more than 8000 jobs. It will include warehouses, factories and other commercial/industrial buildings on the 360ha property.
The project began as a way of providing an industrial buffer around the quarry’s traffic routes but Franklin said he also believed Auckland’s industry would increasingly move south.
‘‘I’d imagine that this is going to be the next generation of growth in Auckland.
‘‘I mean, Pukekohe’s going to be a satellite city of Auckland and that’s going to have another 50,000 people there.
‘‘Waikato is moving up towards Auckland, you’ve got the Pokeno subdivision now. Pokeno is on the other side of the Bombays, so that’s another 5km out from Drury.’’
Franklin said Drury was also attractive as a distribution hub because of its central position within the ‘‘golden triangle’’ of Hamilton, Auckland and Tauranga. He had also been fielding calls from people interested in housing developments there.
The project has been approved by a commission of inquiry and is now waiting for local council planning approval.
If ratified, Franklin said the next stage would be to nail down infrastructure agreements with Watercare, councils and roading providers. He hoped the first sod would be turned next year.
He would not put a price on the cost of development but said it would cost ‘‘hundreds of millions of dollars’’.
‘‘Even allowing for the Lochinver Station sale, we’ll need partners to help us with the funding.’’
Franklin said he had no concerns about the station going to foreign investors.
‘‘I actually said to somebody today, what is it that they think Pengxin are going to do, get up and take it back to China? They’re investing in the country, they allow us to invest … and create 8000 jobs in Drury south. It’s good for the country.’’
Stevensons is looking at moving full steam ahead with the Drury South heavy industry complex which has attracted controversy from near by residents – mainly on rural lots. If and when the complex is fully developed we are looking at 8,000 jobs that are sorely needed for a rapidly growing South and Southern Auckland.
A map of where the complex is most likely to be
Note: This is potential NOT ACTUAL. Like all potential plans they are subjects to rules, regulations and changes.
You can see Stevenson’s existing quarry in the bottom right corner (marked grey by the Unitary Plan maps) and the Future Urban Zone (in yellow) set by the proposed Unitary Plan Rural Urban Boundary.
The area is near both the main rail line (and proposed Drury Station), Great South Road, State Highway 22, and the Southern Motorway (State Highway 1). There are a few local roads in the area as well that connect back up to the main thoroughfares.
Now this proposed industrial complex has been well signalled and is working through the Council planning regime after the Private Plan Change went through last year. I know Watercare have infrastructure plans for the area and have a Waste Water Treatment Plan on those plans to be built as the area becomes developed. As for the rest of Council which includes Auckland Transport, the Planning Department and the Councillors themselves I do seriously wonder if they fully comprehend the full consequences (positive and negative) before the development takes off in full flight.
I know Franklin Ward Councillor Bill Cashmore and his Local Board comprehend the consequences of the situation but his counterparts on the Governing Body give me concern. Councillor Cashmore has alluded during the East-West Link debate up around Onehunga-Penrose-Mt Wellington-Highbrook that there is a very high chance that the heavy industry at the Penrose-Onehunga Industrial Complex will move south to Wiri and Drury as land use dynamics and pressures change.
Mark Franklin of Stevensons also alludes to this:
“The project began as a way of providing an industrial buffer around the quarry’s traffic routes but Franklin said he also believed Auckland’s industry would increasingly move south.”
As land values and land use pressures increase at Penrose and Onehunga owing to increased demand for residential and commercial land on the Isthmus (and especially with the northern Manukau Inlet foreshore being an increasing draw card) heavy industry will usually “flee” to where there is not that land use pressure. As I have said there is a high risk of the heavy industry moving south from Penrose-Onehunga to Drury (and Wiri) and this will present significant changes and challenges especially towards Auckland Council.
Will the Drury South site have adequate infrastructure at the ready? Do we need to set aside a corridor for a future rail spur from where the main line is in Drury to the Drury South industrial complex so logistics hubs that establish there have access to the rail network (you never know Metro Port might move from Southdown to Drury). How will Council rehabilitate the land at Penrose and Onehunga that was once industrial and make it ready for residential and commercial. Will Drury South “upset” the Auckland Plan and the Mayor’s (rather dreaming) goal of 70:30 Brownfield:Greenfield urban development push and head towards the 60:40 or even 50:50 development push. Will the development of Satellite Towns such as Pukekohe and in the Northern Waikato also have bearing influence on Drury South, Southern Auckland and the Auckland Plan?
Somehow and to be brutally honest the Council for the most part (Watercare and Councillor Bill Cashmore excluded as they are aware) are not switched on and will get caught short – rather quickly.