The long running battle to develop land at Orakei Point has finally come to an end with the plan change enabling the development finally operative. Bob Dey reports:

Plan change 260 for Orakei Point – now Orakei Bay Village – won its final approval to be made operative on Tuesday, completing an often acrimonious regulatory journey that began in 2006.

The plan change was originally sought from Auckland City Council by Tony Gapes (Redwood Group Ltd) to develop 5.9ha around the Orakei railway station, at the foot of Remuera, for an upmarket community of up to 1600 people.

Well placed Remuera locals fought the proposal and, in 2009, then-mayor John Banks took the masterplan to a community meeting, then made it a council-sponsored plan change. The plan change rezones 4.7ha to a site-specific mixed-use zone and the remaining 1.2ha to open space 2, enabling a masterplanned “seaside village”. Provisions were structured so the site would be developed as a comprehensive whole – except that, when it was publicly notified in January 2010, Mr Gapes didn’t control the whole site.

The new Auckland Council approved the plan change with conditions in April 2011, but 3 appellants took it to the Environment Court. The council’s Auckland development committee approved the plan change on Tuesday after the court resolved the appeals.

I’ve long thought that the site was ideal for development as it is fairly close to town with excellent amenities including of course an existing train station which will only become more and more useful and frequent with electrification and then the CRL. As part of the development, the railway lines and station will be capped. I’m sure Auckland Transport will work with the developers to make the station something special and unique. There is also to be space for a third track through the development.

Orakei Point - May 2013

In the report to the councils development committee it says.

The overall intention of the plan change is that a development lid be placed over the railway corridor at Orakei Point, and the covered area be utilised for roads, plazas, commercial and residential use with open space and walkways around the periphery. Key features of the notified plan change were:

  • provision of up to 84,000m2 gross floor area of mixed use development, comprising 64,000m2 of residential (about 700 apartments), a maximum of 10,000m2 each for retail and office activities, and a maximum of 1,750 parking spaces
  • maximum building heights, public open space areas, and special tree protection areas
  • assessment criteria particularly focused on high quality urban design, connections with public transport, open space and sustainability
  • a comprehensive package of development controls to limit the overall height and bulk of the built form to within defined envelopes, and to ensure specific features on the Master Plan are achieved
  • a staging table to secure certain public amenities and infrastructure prior to development of each precinct
  • four overlay plans applying development controls i.e. maximum heights, site intensity and staging, veranda cover, and traffic and pedestrian links, to the land.

Following on from the appeals and environment court action there have been some changes to the original decision by the council. They include:

  • a revised masterplan, with smaller buildings, a secondary road network added to the main link road, larger shared spaces and plazas, and increased veranda cover along key pedestrian connections
  • amended order of staging of the development precincts, bring forward a new railway station building and plaza in the first stage of development. These changes do not trigger the need for additional traffic and road improvements
  • a requirement to vest an esplanade reserve with a minimum depth of 20m in Council Item 10 Auckland Development Committee 11 March 2014
  • reverse sensitivity covenants, and new internal noise standards for buildings to mitigate the adverse effects of rail noise
  • greater protection for trees within the special tree protection areas by way of resource consent for works which will result in removal of more than 5% of the canopy of any tree, or the removal of three or more trees, or the significant adverse effects on three or more trees.

The developers have already been selling apartments and terraced houses based on the environment court decision, here are some of their marketing images of what the developments will look like.

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  1. Sure hope that KR actually has enough room there for the 3rd main – looks to me that it will be a tigth squeeze under the Orakei Road rail bridge to fit in 3 lines well.
    Even though that bridge was supposedly “future proofed” a couple of years back.

    I can see another Panmure station type problem looming here with too little space allocated for future rail freight requirements which will seem short sighted in 5-10 years..

    All in all, Orakei Point is a part of town that needs to be redeveloped and done right it may become a real asset.
    But, don’t like the idea of 1750 car parks though.- thats one per 48m2 over all developments there. For what is supposedly a “transit oriented” development?
    If we assume 1000 car parks are for apartments and some train station users, that leaves 750 for the remaining 20,000m2 of GFA for retail and offices.

    Thats 1 park per 27m2 of retail/commercial – not much less car parking than what a tavern has to provide now.

    I also don’t like how the proper bus stops are “outside” the development and not integrated with the plaza/train station area.
    So anyone who buses to Orakei station (as they will as its a major selling point) will have to walk some distance across a busy road and into the development to get a train.
    Not really showing joined up thinking here guys.

    And why does a railway station building need a heli-pad on the roof? As I recall the old ACC banned all helicopters from ladning in residential areas may years ago.
    Allowing a Heli pad on the roof would seem to be a big backward step – are they expecting a lot of medevacs or something from the residents?
    Or maybe expecting to allow their rich lister owners to fly in to their apartments?

    1. That’s not good about the bus stops. You would’ve thought that could’ve been got right considering the TODs and interchanges that have been done in New Lynn and Panmure etc. You’d think that by now the importance of the connectivity between different PT modes would start to becoming second nature whether it’s a council-led development or a private one which they were giving consent on. Apparently not.

      1. How on earth do buses both ways not divert the short distance to the rail station entrance marked ‘5’? Who approved that, and on what grounds?

      2. Wouldn’t worry about this tooooo much – this is still very indicative, and since the bus stop is shown on Orakei Road, on Council (road) land, this can still change. Obvious point for the bus stop would be over the rail line, less than 50m walking distance.

    2. The heli pad might be more about this being building ‘H’ than choppers.

      There was some issue with taking buses through development (tracking curves or more likely the locals opposing everything they could think of). #7 outside the railway station is noted for smaller hopper buses that are envisioned to link with local centers more frequently.

  2. A population of just 1600 sounds a bit small to support a village center with a full range of local services? Overall a good development concept but some decent high rise with another 1000 or so apartments would have made better use of such a prime location at a train station. But I can see that was never going to pass the “slums of the future” brigade.

  3. Hope they don’t actually build all the 1750 car parks! So unneeded for just 700 apartments with a rail station directly underneath.

  4. Ha! I was at that community meeting in 2009. The rusty and crusty brigade were out in droves. Moan moan moan. Every objection seemed to be in capital letters and prefaced with “absolutely”. Absolutely APPALLING. Absolutely ATROCIOUS. Absolutely NO PARKING. Absolutely SLUMS. Absolutely TOO MUCH TRAFFIC. Dear God what a dire lot.

  5. thanks goodness this saga is over.

    With a few more developments like this we can look forward to an even bigger drop in drive mode share at the next census ….

    1. There is no level crossing there or indeed anywhere on the NIMT north of Spartan Rd in Takanini. It’s a poorly drawn over bridge.

  6. Smart looking development. Great location. Too much parking. If existing locals are concerned about traffic increase as a result of these new dwellings then they should have argued for the lowest level of parking the developer could stomach. They should have fought for a real TOD, hard to argue that it isn’t perfectly sited for one. But, as is usually the case the same people who argue that a change will clog roads with additional traffic also argue that there must be more car parks. Yet we know that parking generates driving: more parking -> more driving on surrounding roads.

    Irrational identification with their vehicles.

    1. Patrick, that 1750 is a maximum, and could be less, the council/Environment court document indicate two contradictory statements on minimums.

      1. minimum threshold is 75% of the 1750 maximum (i.e. 1312)
      2. no minimum parking requirements

      Also note, The 200 Park n ride parks don’t count to this total, so the total parks could be 1950 (or less). And on street parking doesn’t count either.

      Car park maximums are imposed for apartments at 1 per 1 bedroom (or less?) apartment, and 2 for any 2 bedroom and above apartments.

      Retail has 1 per 40m2 of GFA and Offices at 1 per 60m2.

      Offices and Retail are a maximum of 10,000 m2 GFA – and there must be at least 5,000 m2 of each, but 10,000 each as permitted is more likely I think.

      So if 700 apartments are built, and retail and office is fully built then these maximums and the 200 for Park n Ride will come to some 1350 or so parks.

      The remaining “600” (to the overall max of 1950) being mainly discretionary depending on the number of 2+ bedroom apartments being built
      – if most of the apartments built are 2 or more bedrooms then they will surely sell those 600 as part of the apartments.

      The parks won’t “steal” floor space from the development either. as in this development the height and # of floors are constrained for all above ground/above podium levels.
      So the developer can only make more money by building as many car park basement levels as they can get away with.
      And thats what they will do – to maximise their returns.

      And I’m sure the 200 park and ride parks will be in short supply especially once EMUs and CRL are fully operational and this is built.
      Any apartment owner here would probably be able to rent out their “spare” undercover car park(s) – to park and riders for $200 month ($10 a day) or office/retails workers who work in the 10,000 GFA office/retail complexes. So thats what $2000 per year – a nice little earner if you get the parks as part of your apartment.
      Over 20 years that “extra” car park will pay for itself, and no doubt add additional resale value as well to your apartment.

      Might even cover the body corporate fees if you’re lucky.

      1. Greg I’m sure you’d agree that the new station should have precisely zero park’n’ride spaces: this station is one stop from the centre of town. KIss’n’ride, yes, bus integration, yes, good bike parking, yes, and a taxi rank, yes; but no park’n’ride. Or at the very least parking at CBD rates. That there is one there now is just craziness.

        Park’n’ride is an appropriate facility for stations serving dispersed more rural populations with little alternative means of getting to a station, also places where land to use for carparking is available and cheap. This Station no more should offer a park’n’ride than Grafton or K’Rd.

        There will be good demand for parking with the apartments, although I’m sure many will be happy with one space, especially at a 50-100k saving.

        1. I do agree, and the only reason they are there at all is that Auckland City Council leased? the land where the current P&R is located and in order to facilitate the redevelopment (and probably to placate the Orakei Ward Councillor and the Orakei Local Board) wanted to ensure that they remained in place even when it handed the lease back to the developers. And ACC built Park and Rides there to try and push up rail patronage in the early ’00s – which to a point did work as the PnR there is always full on weekdays.

          But – there should be zero Park and Ride parks and one park per apartment, would be enough too as I see it. We don’t have a hughe proportion of office or retail floor space here, so that too should be kept low.

          But I’m not sure that having only 1 car park for a “saving” on the building price of 50-100k less would be overly appealing for the middle to upper end of the market who will be putting down $1+ million for one of these apartments either. At the lower end, maybe, someone will buy a 1 bedroom unit with no car park for 10-15% lower price as a result.

          But will that restriction result in less being built over all? No it won’t.

          I would point out that this whole thing is not a done deal either – the developer now has 60 days as the plan change is now operative (as required by the Environment court) to show it has got 100% control of all the sites (and air space and corridor where the railway sits from KR) – or the plan change and designations lapse and land reverts to the current designations.

          I don’t know where they are with regards this,part – I’d assume its well under way – but its a legal hurdle they have to cross next and it could conceivably fall over even now at this late stage.

    1. I agree 100% – even if the plan for 4th main doesn’t happen for 30 years.

      That development (and the straight jacket around the rail line corridoe) will last 100+ years – so we have to get space put aside for the next century of rail requirements npw – not the for the next 10 years.

      1. Problem Kiwirail have no inclination to do any sort of long term planning. Their only focus is keeping what they have running. Have heard of people internally suggesting even small projects that would be a huge boost for the future and no-one wants to know about it as it doesn’t do anything for running trains that day.

        1. Matt, we know KR is in survival mode, so it doesn’t care for the future. That doesn’t excuse a lack of forward planning.

          And it is another reason why the Track/Rail corridor KR uses should be managed outside of KR (NZTA?), if for nothing else than to protect future transport options.

          Imagine if KR decided to sell off the Onehunga/Avondale Rail Corridor to the highest bidder for the cash.
          That might be good for KR today but bad for everyone long term.

          Hopefully we might get some sense injected here before too long, whether its too late for Orakei point who knows?

          The alternative without 3rd and 4th main options along the Eastern line will be to send all rail freight from the ports up the hill via NIMT.

          Because within 7 years the pairs of train lines near the port will be maxed out with passenger trains CRL or no – and where will the rail freight go then? Back on the roads?

          1. “….and where will the rail freight go then? Back on the roads?”

            Yes that’s the plan, same with the growing efforts to close the North Auckland Line: vital to making the unsupportable Holiday Highway look better.

          2. Perhaps it would be a good idea if KW did sell of the Avondale designation area. The original purpose of serving a new port at Pollen Island is never going to happen, No one is ever likely to build it but
            KW keep it as they dont think it costs them anything. But the cost has fallen on the local area as the land has been blighted for years and Transit NZ had to plan their motorway and interchanges around a non-existent railway track causing huge extra costs.

          1. From the report:

            a requirement that within 60 days of the plan change becoming operative, the
            developer must have control or ownership over the land and the airspace above the
            railway such that the plan change can be implemented, otherwise the land reverts to its
            existing zoning

            Does the developer actually have control of the airspace over the railway, yet?

      2. “so we have to get space put aside for the next century of rail requirements npw – not the for the next 10 years.” Freight forecasting is one of those areas that is little better than selecting a number at random. The harbour bridge was built high to allow ships to get to a new port up the harbour. The port was never built and the size of ships has increased so much that it never will be now. And they were just trying to plan for 30 years. Two tracks run efficiently can carry a large number of trains. Two tracks run poorly with old signal systems can’t. in my view the only way a third track will ever by built is is Kiwi Rail can make someone else build it for them, not because it is an economically viable project. We should let rail stand on its own merits just like roads and ferrys.

          1. They at least need a B/C ratio of 1 before land can be taken for them. Why should railway lines that may or may not ever be built be allowed to blight other development opportunities. Unless you are happy for costs to exceed benefits. It is true roads don’t have to have a financial return, but they shouldn’t be built unless the benefits exceed costs.

          2. I stand by my last sentence on roads “they shouldn’t be built unless the benefits exceed costs” That is my position but not necessarily that of the current regime. The fact that people want to do one daft thing doesn’t justify any other.

          3. Those BCR less than 1 roads will get pushed through on spurious extended benefits like “agglomeration benefits” and so on, which don’t exist in the base system – and which they refuse to apply to projects like the CRL. That will still be decried as being a money-waster despite having, even without the fancy accounting, a positive BCR.

          4. I did a BCR a few years back showing one of the Rons wasnt worth doing. It didnt stop the project but just delayed it a few years until the dreamt up rons. There are people who promote schemes, roads, rail, events centres, whatever. The rons thing is just an excuse by them to support the unsupportable.

  7. It really pissess me off that every development that gets approved as to provide an excessive amont of parking spaces. Which clearly undermine the development as a public transport oriented one. Shame on Auckland planning commissioners like the Britomart carpark

    1. some would argue that the District and Unitary Plans require an excessive amount of parking.

      Don’t blame developers for providing what is required of them. Most developers I speak to would gladly provide less parking, if indeed they could.

  8. This is probably the first apartment complex I’ve seen that I would consider buying into, and reasonably priced too (eg $1.3m for a 4-bed t/h with 2 carparks). A bit on the small side (160m2) but acceptable, and a very pleasant environment. Much nicer than that Newmarket thing.

    What I don’t get is those above who decry the parking facilities – I thought you were all about no minimums or maximums? Not everyone is fit enough to walk or cycle, and not all that are wish to. It’s all about choice, and I for one wouldn’t choose a place without parking, including adequate visitor parking. If $100k or so represents the cost of the carparks, so what? It’s only a small part of the total cost. Trains and buses are fine if they go where and when you want to go, but are very restrictive beyond that.

    1. I have to pay extra for the apartment I rent because I couldn’t rent it without the carpark, even though I don’t have a car and am not interested in getting one. I sublet it out to recoup my costs but I’d rather I had a lower rent without the carpark in the first place. A growing number of Aucklanders like myself don’t feel the way you do mate. Infact I’d rather the developer had used more of the carparking space to build additional storage sheds in my apartment complex as everyone has a carpark space but only some (2bdrm units) have storage space. This development is in a location with a good PT transport link not far from the CBD (and surely after the bus network reforms of the next couple of years will have good interconnectivity between buses and trains which will help connectivity to other parts of the isthmus not served by rail whether from that station or one somewhere further along the rail network) and that, not parking should be the emphasis of this development. And to be honest just how many people need a 4 bedroom place these days? There’s already plenty of that option anyway all over Auckland. It’s the smaller 1 and 2 bedroom places that Auckland needs more of.

      1. Thanks Simon for demonstrating my point. You sublet your carpark space, so presumably you could alternatively locate a storage shed on it – your choice. You have also chosen to rent which gives you greater flexibility. I happen to work from home plus have lots of house-guests, so a 4+ bedder suits me at present; it wouldn’t suit everyone (these are not as common as you suggest, and generally command a premium). I’m also in a central location with UFB and easy motorway access for site meetings and more distant travel, but in 10 years’ time I may well prefer some other arrangement. If the demand trend is indeed as you suggest then the market will respond accordingly, but judging by the steady stream of real estate agents harassing me that isn’t happening yet.

        1. Umm, it’s a carpark, not a storage space and the subletting is not strictly you know what but what a lot of people in my apartments seem to be doing to recoup costs even though strictly speaking they shouldn’t be. Such is the fact that carparking is so intertwined into tenancy agreements when quite frankly it shouldn’t be so actually I don’t have a real choice at all. and if there was a real choice it should be that I don’t have to accept to pay rent including a carpark.

    2. “What I don’t get is those above who decry the parking facilities – I thought you were all about no minimums or maximums?”

      Which is why I asked what the MINIMUM is. If those 1,750 car parks are simply a flat requirement for the development at full build-out, then there’s not the slightest hypocrisy at asking “Why”. Why would you require so much parking? There is no flexibility there, then. And seeing that the consent (not the appeal) predates the Unitary Plan, I am worried that these are indeed minimum requirements…

      1. 1750 is a maximum (there’s also 200 park-and-ride spaces and on-street parking). There’s no minimum, but it seems like the developer is intending to build up to the maximum.

  9. This can only be a positive for the actual station itself. A Covered station with good lighting will be far more pleasant than what it is now

  10. It’s hard to believe after all the “short sighted” lessons learned over the past decade, that in 2014 they are going to proceed with a project to block any chance of ever having four mains into the city. It’s not hard to envisage the need for it 20 years down the track. But then the same outfit couldn’t see the need to build overbridges for three tracks at Homai and Manurewa despite the same outfit planning a third track through there at the time!

    We’ll just have to sit by and cringe as it all unfolds. The “usual story” for Auckland eh?

    1. I had a think about it and, with existing and future signalling, ETCS etc, they can probably build a 4th main either side of the development and time freight trains to pass through one at a time.

    2. It seems nuts. KiwiRail can sink the whole thing by simply refusing to sell the air rights over the railway. They could easily have demanded space for four-tracking as part of the price of approving the plan. They’ve chosen not to. Did they get a higher price for the air rights with a three-track plan? How much extra could they possibly have got to make up for such an inflexible, short-sighted option?

      It’s not excusable for KiwiRail to have this sort of lack of forward planning. Sure, the government’s not going to come to the party any time soon, but that’s no excuse for KiwiRail itself not to do what it can to future-proof the network when it doesn’t need significant money or political support to do so.

      1. I believe the air rights were sold some time ago, long before this came up. Same with the air rights above Newmarket Junction (both sites are owned by the same company).

        1. As in, back in the Fay Richwhite days? That figures. We got pretty amazingly short-changed for that $328m back in 1993.

    1. Nick “Hopper Bus” is a typo.

      Should read “Hoper” Bus – i.e. you “hope” it turns up once in a while – especially whenever you’re waiting for it 🙂

  11. Does the tide ever go out on Aucklands muddy estuaries? Developers would have you believe it doesn’t. Was in Auckland a few weeks back and rode around on trains. Hop is good and other than the Newmarket station needing better access to Broadway it’s all looking pretty good for the new electrics. I even saw the apartments crowding Newmarket station in a new light. It is simply modern city living. Not my style but suits plenty of others which is good.

  12. This is actually excellent future proofing by kiwi rail. They are simply improving the business case for moving the port to Tauranga. Kiwi rail will save Auckland’s city centre in earnest.

    1. Three main lines through the area allows for a lot of flexibility, especially if they are all electrified and signalled in both directions.

      Plus they can have a fourth main in many sections where it is easy to do so, effectively as very long passing loops.

      While it would have been good to allow for a fourth track at Orakei, that’s really the last of their problems. Four tracks across all the causeways and the Purawera tunnel would be a bigger issue.

      1. I can’t see them building a second tunnel through St Johns Hill (“Purewa tunnel”), so for the immediate future that will remain a bottleneck too.
        So we could have a “three down to two” there for a while..

        But if the CRL (or Alice) TBMs once they’re done, still have useful life left in them – due to the rock being less hard than expected – we could put it to work here building a tunnel (or two). After all its only going to sold for scrap after CRLanyway so lets get our money’s worth from it.

        But apparently the rock is pretty tough here though as they found when they hand built it in the 20’s – but even half a TBM built tunnel would be a start.
        Why they could store spare EMU’s in it at night if nothing else.

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