A 37-hectare public park has been given the green light at Chelsea Refinery in Birkenhead.
Chelsea Sugar has agreed to sell the land around its iconic pink painted refinery buildings for $20 million, more than two years after proposing the deal.
Only a final seal of approval from the Environment Court is needed for the purchase to go ahead.
“The deal has essentially gone unconditional,” says Chelsea Sugar general manager Bernard Duignan.
“This land is going to be maintained as a park.”
Legal action by the Auckland Regional Council and New Zealand Historic Places Trust had threatened to sink the park deal.
Both appealed a North Shore District Plan change allowing 528 units on about 15 hecatres of refinery land to the Environment Court.
Chelsea Sugar had threatened to pull out of the park deal if the plan change wasn’t approved.
It took a compromise agreement between all the parties to get the company to put the purchase back on the table.
That extended the amount of consultation required if the refinery does decide to develop some of its land.
Mr Duignan says it’s unlikely development will ever go ahead.
“I can say absolutely and categorically we have no plans of developing the land. We’ve been operating here for 125 years.”
North Shore City Council community services and parks committee chairman Tony Holman says the park will be an asset to all Shore residents.
It will guarantee them with the longest section of bush-clad coastline on the Waitemata Harbour, he says.
Ten million dollars for the park purchase will come from North Shore council, $6m from ASB Charitable Trust, $2m from Auckland Regional Council and $2m from the government.
The idea of a park on the Uruamo headland in Birkenhead was first proposed a decade ago.
The Environment Court has 60 days to ratify the park purchase.
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times