An audience tipping nearly 200 crowded into the Mangawhai Club recently, curious to hear the latest update and ask some hard questions regarding Kaipara district’s biggest urban development project, Mangawhai Central.
Developers Viranda Partners held their third public meeting ‘in the spirit of consultation’ on October 24 to share the latest details of their masterplan, especially in relation to the main street retail sector.
Accompanied by Bayleys in the North owner-director Mark Macky, who MC’d the meeting, Mangawhai Central (MC) team members, consultants and architects, and Viranda chair Andrew Guest thanked people for coming, saying the MC project is ‘very dear to us and the community is also becoming closer as time goes on’.
“Thank you to members of the community who participated in the consultation, the result is going to be unique to New Zealand, something you can be very proud of,” he said. “We’ve had the land 18 months… we’re doing it as fast as we can and we’ve come a long way. There has to be a timetable for a plan of this magnitude to come into fruition… the complexities are great… the procedure by which consents are granted, engineering is properly assessed and risks managed, is very important, we’ve got to do it correctly. Like to pay tribute to the Kaipara council, they are doing everything they can without breaking the rules.”
Architects Rob Guild and Arno Pieters from international architectural firm Buchan Group, are charged with creating concepts for MC’s main street, and have taken into consideration the areas coastal landscape, community, local flora and fauna and even Mangawhai’s history such as wharfs and trading routes.
On describing the architecture and landscape, Pieters says one of their guiding questions was ‘how do you capture the spirit of the place and translate that into nuts, bolts and materials, so they belong?’
Based on a coastal nautical theme, the main street is complete with ‘towers representing lighthouses or beacons’ at the entrance and on street corners to ‘announce your arrival… and to illuminate the energy and draw you into the development’ he says.
“It includes a large food and beverage building… with retail buildings kept low and unpretentious, lot of landscaping, lot of native trees, we’ll try to use local grasses and plants along the main street to capture the ambience, furniture on street corners… mainly white with splashes of colour based on ice cream cones so light blues, pinks, easy greens…”
A children’s playground will also be created as ‘no town centre is complete without one’ and the art society and local school will also be consulted for murals and sculptures. The design of the recently announced New World at MC was also mentioned which will be ‘a little different’ from most supermarkets ‘a social store’ Guild says, ‘not a concrete box, more of an easy feeling bach look’.
“We’ve spent a lot of time designing the streetscape trying to make it as open and friendly as possible,” Guild says. “With a varied selection of tenancies, weather protection like verandas and narrow streets to create pedestrian activity, it’s more of a shared space than roads with cars rushing up and down, so it can be used for community events such as markets.”
Topics included in the 12 questions put to the MC panel were roading, employment of local contractors, buying and leasing of buildings, number of new homes, effects of climate change on sea levels and impact on other current stores and elderly shoppers. Environmental sustainability with regard to zero-waste, power and water were other primary concerns and in answering Guest assured Viranda were ‘completely committed to sustainability’.
“Putting a lot of time and money into water… we’re capturing every drop, everything that can be processed and reused, we will be looking at other sources… we won’t allow the aquifers to dry out. We want to establish back up power… through solar energy and back-up packs and believe we can do that with solar-panelling,” he says. “We’d be mad to develop a town in 2021 that didn’t have sustainability with an abundance of fresh water, no plastic bags and back-up power… we’ll address these issues and put it out there for discussion, dissection and debate.”
Mangawhai’s infamous sewage system – which is allegedly currently operating ‘nearly at full capacity’ – and history repeating itself was also a concern, with one resident asking ‘where are you going to put your waste?’
“We’re concerned that you’ll take all our water, our sewage capacity and our rates will again go up as you’ll get friendly deals with the council… we’ll go through the whole farce again,” the resident said. “Are you going to use the current system because if so, you’d be completely overloading it?”
Guest replied that due to Mangawhai’s ‘astronomical growth’, sewage was going to be an issue for the area with or without MC and was ‘an issue Kaipara District Council have to deal with’.
“However we can be positive participants in it as capital contributors to the council. It’s a valuable question particularly after the nightmare you’ve had… and I can absolutely assure you we won’t be a part of that at all.”
One local woman also made the friendly suggestion that the architects visit Amsterdam’s environmentally-friendly, self-sustainable village ‘Iburn’ on a ‘fact-finding mission’ which could ‘take the pressure off KDC and the disgusting sewage system we’ve got here’. The resident ‘also wondered about a petanque course for us oldies to have some fun and play as well’.
The proposed retirement village is ‘steaming ahead’ with Bayleys already receiving expressions of interests and more public meetings will be planned in early 2020 for updates regarding progress on other sections such as the residential area.
“Hopefully from this evening you’ve picked up that the whole MC team here are working very hard, have made a lot of progress and they are listening,” Macky says. “It’s great to be able to have these public meetings and give the community an opportunity to have their say.”
Eighteen months after signing ownership of the 128 hectare Molesworth Drive property, the Mangawhai Central team face a large crowd interested to hear the latest updates with leading man Andrew Guest giving assurances that progress is being made.
“This is a unique community, the underlying fabric is fantastic… this company wants to feel the pulse of the community, that’s very much our spirit.”
– Andrew Guest
BY JULIA WADE