Peacocke family spokesman Mark Peacocke.

Peacocke family spokesman Mark Peacocke.

Plan to develop Hamilton to the south gets the go ahead.

A three-decade wait is  set to end, with the much-delayed development of Peacocke on Hamilton’s southwestern outskirts poised to get a 1000-home boost alongside the Waikato River.

Hamilton City Council gave the long-awaited Peacocke development the thumbs up in its Long Term Plan deliberations on May 31.

The massive project was approved unopposed

A majority of the 2000 plus submitters to the plan backed Peacocke over Rotokauri as the preferred option as Hamilton’s next major suburb.

The Amberfield development – the first stage of Peacocke – will mark a major advance for the area, which was handed to Hamilton by Waipa District Council for potential development almost 30 years ago.

It will also open up 2.8km of river frontage for the public, with low-speed roads and cycling and walking paths.

In a further boost, Alpine Retirement Group is planning a retirement village north of Amberfield that would accommodate 370 people.

Meanwhile, more homes are set to be built in the Dixon Road area on the western side of Peacocke.

All up, Peacocke could take about 8000 houses, which represents an important potential component of Hamilton’s growth equation – one forecast puts the city’s population climbing to 225,000 in the next 25 years.

The Amberfield masterplan, unveiled in May ahead of resource consents being lodged, shows the 105ha residential block site alongside Waikato River will include four neighbourhoods and 23ha of open spaces and reserves. It will also have a neighbourhood centre to provide for up to 10,000 sq m of retail and commercial uses.

Artist’s impression of how the Amberfield development will look.

Artist’s impression of how the Amberfield development will look.

Mark Peacocke, spokesman for the local family behind the development entity Weston Lea, says the site will help accommodate Hamilton’s population growth. The Peacocke family has farmed in the area since the 19th century, and still has a dairy farm there.

“As part of the next chapter for this productive working farm, we are strongly committed to ensuring that every care and consideration is taken to create a highly liveable community that contributes to Hamilton’s future,” he says.

The developer will fund several million in infrastructure necessary to service the development including bridges across a gully to the island neighbourhood in the south of the site, advanced low impact stormwater management systems, roading network/cycleway improvements and waste connections aligned with the council’s long-term investment intentions.

Work could get underway early next year, with the first houses occupied two years after that. 

Development manager Andrew Duncan says the starting point would be the north neighbourhood before continuing south in a staged rollout alongside the river.

“I would say the biggest attribute that we can offer the city is to provide a suburb in the south closely connected with the city. It’s not distant from the city, it’s closely connected, and everything that we’ve done design-wise here, encouraged by the structure plan from the council, is to emphasise those network connections to the city.”

Another view of Amberfield.

Another view of Amberfield.

The development will be sited south of a planned bridge across the Waikato River, part of the Southern Links arterial network. The council was  set to decide whether to take up a government offer of $308.4 million to open up the area. The sum is made up of a 10-year interest-free loan and transport subsidies.

City council growth and infrastructure chair Dave Macpherson sees the bridge as crucial for Peacocke’s development because of the congestion already faced in the routes in and out along Dixon Road and Bader Street.

He wants to have the bridge completed within about three and a half years, and is relaxed about Amberfield starting sooner than that, given the staged nature of its rollout, but is concerned about the impact on traffic of further development in the area without the bridge.

“The link across the river on the bridge was always part of the [Peacocke] plan, because we knew it was a really constricted area,” he says.

Amberfield lead designer Kobus Mentz says a focus of the design, which is closely aligned to the city council’s structure plan for the area, is building a sense of community.

“That means you have to have character areas which are different, you need to have parks well distributed so people feel they have a local community and you’ve also got to have a variety of housing choices.”

The idea is that people can buy in at different levels throughout the rollout, likely to take about seven years. “It’s important from a sales point of view that you can tap into different markets, but it’s also important from the community point of view.

“It means you get different age groups, you get different income groups.”

Lot sizes will range from more than 700 sq m down to 200 sq m, with most coming in between 400 sq m and 600 sq m.

That might mean, for instance, a couple whose family have grown up can downsize from a five-bedroom house to two bedrooms and stay in the area, Kobus says.

Cul-de-sacs will be kept to an absolute minimum, built only when the slope of the area is a barrier to building through-streets. Kobus decries cul-de-sacs as a potential barrier to connecting communities and says there are ways of making other streets equally quiet, while fostering communication between people.

Artists impression of Amberfield.

Artists impression of Amberfield.

The masterplan also pays attention to the environment and biodiversity.

A pre-European cultivation area will become a 1.5ha reserve, and planting will be done in the Mangakotukutuku gully. Trees along the banks of the Waikato River will be retained.

Kobus says “rain gardens” built as part of the development will probably be the top example in the country of removing contaminants by soaking up rain water. In place of berms, strips next to the roads will hold stones and be planted with grasses, with the water that soaks through being cleaned up before getting into the soil. Runoff from normal rainfall will be entirely contained, he says.

The river side of the development will see low-speed, pedestrian-friendly lanes, rather than the common sight of cul-de-sacs fingering out into such public spaces. The intent is to make the spaces feel “truly public”, Kobus says.

“All of that is very public. Anyone can go there and not feel like I’m in anyone else’s place.

“That’s what’s going to make this place truly different. That’s what’s going to make you and me from outside go there and feel welcome with walking and cycling.”