Commissioners deliver Chelsea land use ruling

Despite the independent commissioner's decision to allow housing on the site, there is still no plan to close the sugar works.DEVELOPMENT VIEW: Despite the independent commissioner’s decision to allow housing on the site, there is still no plan to close the sugar works.

Housing should be allowed at the 120-year-old Chelsea sugar refinery in Birkenhead if the company ceases operation on the site, says a report from independent commissioners.

Allowing significantly higher buildings – up to seven storeys instead of four – in the bulk sugar store area is among the changes backed by the commissioners.

The commissioners say this is the height of the existing bulk sugar store buildings.

The district plan change allows for mainly housing on the site plus some community and business use.

Chelsea’s proposal to change the planning rules and build up to 528 houses attracted more than 500 submissions, mostly in opposition.

Opponents included the Birkenhead Residents Association critical of the ‘planned horrendous housing intensification’, the Auckland Regional Council and an Auckland city community board.

But in its submission, Chelsea says there are no plans to close the refinery and significant investment has been made in new equipment.

About 36 hectares of the 52 hectare site have been conditionally sold and will become a public park once the district plan issues are settled, says its submission.

North Shore City Council’s main concern was the fact the land was zoned for business use, and there is shortage of such land on the Shore.

Council environmental policy and planning manager Trevor Mackie says many of its concerns have been addressed.

Mr Mackie says the new plans are less specific about the location and heights of buildings and provide a more flexible framework.

He says the decision provides for a more comprehensive development plan to be produced should the refinery close.

Mr Mackie says it could be decades before the refinery shuts its doors and it is too early to be too specific about future development.

The previous plan allowed for a maximum of 3200 square metres for business use.

Mr Mackie says now the mix of residential and business will have to be reconsidered taking into account many factors, including the impact on traffic.

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Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

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