Tue May 25th 2021

We are delighted with the hearing panel decision to approve rezoning of land at Ohinewai to enable the development of The Sleepyhead Estate.

Simon Berry and Kate Storer are delighted with the decision made by a Waikato District Council hearing panel to approve the rezoning of 187ha of land at Ohinewai. Berry Simons has been acting for the property arm of The Comfort Group, Ambury Properties Limited, in support of a submission on the Proposed Waikato District Plan seeking the rezoning to enable the development of The Sleepyhead Estate.

Kate and I are absolutely delighted to have been part of the team to get this substantial rezoning over the line. It required us to put a lot of evidence together, but the witness team was great. We are also highly impressed at the detailed work undertaken by the Hearing Panel and Waikato District Council staff to put a complex set of stand-alone provisions together.”

The Sleepyhead Estate is a unique, master-planned development at Ohinewai which comprises a $1.2 billion, 178-hectare manufacturing hub and residential community that will create up to 2,600 jobs in the area and provide up to 1,100 new homes over the next ten years. A 100,000sqm Sleepyhead factory will bring together all the company’s Auckland-based production and warehousing operations at the new Ohinewai site, which is adjacent to both SH1 and the North Island Main Trunk Railway.

The company will also develop a residential community as part of the development to provide housing for the company’s staff, their families, and other residents. There will be more residential land than is needed to cater for Sleepyhead’s needs. Other industrial, warehouse, or logistics operators who choose to establish in Ohinewai may also wish to take up some of the residential land.

The rezoning will provide for a further 106,000sqm of general industrial activity (on a further site area of 26ha) with an estimated 32,400sqm of commercial gross floor area (8.7ha) and potential for a further 1,600 jobs.

The project will provide a significant boost for this part of Waikato District, ultimately attracting an estimated $1 billion expenditure into the local district through investment in infrastructure, construction, and development. The Comfort Group does not accept the Waikato Regional Council’s contention that the development will be harmful to Huntly.

The Waikato Regional Council and Waka Kotahi / NZTA opposed the rezoning, primarily on the basis that the proposal was not anticipated by strategic planning documents and would not achieve integrated land use development and infrastructure planning in conformity with existing planning documents.

The Panel did not accept that argument, saying:

“…those agencies have taken a narrow doctrinaire interpretation of the relevant strategic planning documents and have given little weight to the strong directions in the NPS-UD for decision makers to be responsive to development opportunities unanticipated by RMA planning documents. The need for flexibility in the planning context to accommodate unplanned development is also recognised in the alternative land release provisions in the RPS. We are disappointed the two public agencies took such entrenched positions to oppose the Ohinewai development proposal when a more constructive approach was called for…”

Political commentator, Richard Harman, sees the rezoning as a win for the Minister for the Environment, David Parker, being “a significant endorsement of his July 2020 National Policy Standard on Urban Development.”

The proposed foam factory and rail siding are being processed under the COVID-19 Fast Track process and resource consents have been granted for earthworks to prepare the site for the factory.

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