Resource consent granted for Hamilton's new 1000-home Te Awa Lakes development

The new proposed development at Te Awa Lakes is to be in Horotiu, alongside the Waikato River

A former sand quarry could become the biggest riverside home development in Hamilton's history - if the Government agrees.

Perry Group owns a piece of triangular Horotiu land, bordered by the Waikato River, the Expressway, and Hutchinson Road.

The plan is to put 1000 homes - at least 400 of them affordable - on the site where Perry's also has plans for a water adventure park.

One Hamilton City councillor thinks it could make the city "crank", but nearby heavy industries don't want more homes on their doorstep.

On Tuesday, Hamilton City councillors voted 10-2 to send a special housing area application for the site, Te Awa Lakes, for central government approval.

It's a once in a 100 year opportunity and "the sort of thing that can make a city crank", Councillor Ryan Hamilton said.

Several other councillors felt the need for housing outweighed concerns about losing 51 hectares of industrial land.

But Cr Leo Tooman was opposed, saying he wasn't convinced the homes would be affordable, and a Trade Me search shows Hamilton has enough homes.

He also predicted traffic issues, and said the project wasn't consistent with other council plans.

The site is zoned as industrial but can't be used in that manner for up to seven years, a report from Beca consultant Luke O'Dwyer said.

"The key issue is whether it is more beneficial for the city to let the site remain idle and unproductive ... or contemplate an alternative," he wrote.

Industrial vacancy levels across Hamilton
The proposed Te Awa Lakes development would be on 51 hectares of Horotiu land, with the Waikato River on one side
The alternative would be allowing the prime riverside site to become "the largest waterside residential development in the city's history".

Most of Hamilton's riverfront is residential property, parks or the CBD, Perry Group chair Simon Perry said.

"In fact, the Fonterra factory is an outlier ... Does it really make sense to perpetuate?"

 More than 40 consultants were used to plan for Te Awa Lakes, he said, and the 641-page report to councillors was like "a War and Peace novel of technical evidence and detail".

And while the plan had supporters - including local iwi, Sport Waikato, and Habitat for Humanity - nearby businesses were opposed.

Fonterra representatives said if Te Awa Lakes went ahead it would affect decisions on future investment in the nearby Te Rapa factory, and make industrial land around the development unsuitable for heavy industry.

Similar points were made by representatives for Affco, Open Country Dairy, and Ports of Auckland.

The businesses said their 24-hour operations weren't compatible with people living nearby, and the special housing area process wouldn't allow them to have a say on conditions which could help them coexist.

Nearby Horotiu School could also struggle, Ministry of Education representatives said, as the ministry would struggle to get extra classrooms for up to 300 extra students on site fast enough.

Councillors voted 10-2 in favour of sending the Te Awa Lakes proposal to Minister for Housing and Urban Development Phil Twyford.

Those opposed were Crs Garry Mallett and Leo Tooman, and Cr Rob Pascoe was not present for the vote.

The resolution also asks chief executive Richard Briggs to look into future options and need for industrial land in the city, and gives him authority to negotiate a further private development agreement with Perry Group.