Ohinewai Rezoning - Sleepyhead Estate

Waikato District Council gives notice that on 24 May 2021 the Independent Hearings Panel (the “Panel”) made its decision on the provisions and matters raised in submissions on the Ohinewai Rezoning and Development - Sleepyhead Estate (the “Decision”) in the Proposed Waikato District Plan (“PDP”).

The PDP hearings are currently ongoing. The full decisions of the Panel encompassing consideration of submissions on the Proposed District Plan, are anticipated to be released as a single package in 2021 (“Full Decisions”). The Panel has decided to make an exception to this, by releasing the Decision on the Ohinewai Rezoning and Development - Sleepyhead Estate in advance of the release of the Full Decisions.
  

     

Decisions document

Related documents

Frequently asked questions

Where is the Sleepyhead proposal located?

The site is located on the eastern edge of the Waikato Expressway at Ohinewai. Ohinewai is located just north of Huntly. More specifically, the site is 178 hectares located on the eastern corner of Tahuna Road and Lumsden Road and adjoins the North Island Main Trunk rail line. The site comprises 231 Tahuna Road and 52, 56 and 58 Lumsden Road. The site sits within the Waikato District Council jurisdiction.

What is the Sleepyhead proposal?

The Sleepyhead proposal has four components:

(a)    Industrial component: The Ohinewai Structure Plan provides for a gross industrial area of 61.5 hectares, which will provide for the factory, the rail siding, and other industrial uses.

(b)    Business component: 6.19 hectares of the site is to be zoned for business uses such as a service station, bus terminal, emergency vehicle station, and a neighbourhood centre comprising convenience stores.

(c)     Residential component: The Ohinewai Structure Plan provides for a residential area of 52 hectares (gross). A key driver is to deliver residential development that enhances the opportunity for selected qualifying staff to achieve home ownership, and therefore provide financially accessible housing.

(d)    Recreation / open space component: The Ohinewai Structure Plan provides for 55ha of land to be allocated to reserves, stormwater infrastructure, fitness tracks, community playing fields, community vegetable plots, barbeque areas and playgrounds.

The structure plan is included below.

How did the Sleepyhead proposal arise?

District plans must be reviewed at least every ten years, and Waikato District Council prepared a Proposed Waikato District Plan which was publicly notified for submissions in July 2018.

As part of that process, Ambury Properties Ltd lodged a submission which sought (amongst other things) to amend the zoning of the property from Rural Zone to Industrial, Business and Residential Zone. This zone change requested would allow for the Sleepyhead proposal.

What was the decision on the proposal?

The independent Waikato District Plan Hearings Panel has approved the rezoning in full

Click here to read a summary of the decision that council has prepared.

Who is Ambury Properties Ltd and who is the Comfort Group?

Ambury Properties Ltd is the company that has purchased the Ohinewai land and lodged the submission on the Proposed Waikato District Plan on behalf of The Comfort Group Ltd. Ambury Properties is an associated company with identical owners as The Comfort Group Ltd. Ambury Properties Ltd is responsible for the purchase and development of the Ohinewai site to ensure that it is ready for The Comfort Group’s operational use.   

The Comfort Group Ltd is the company behind well-known Kiwi brand Sleepyhead.

The submission from Ambury Properties Ltd is often referred to as the “Sleepyhead proposal”.

Why was the Sleepyhead decision released in advance of the rest of the decisions on  the Proposed Waikato District Plan?

Ambury Properties Ltd asked the Hearings Panel for an earlier decision due to the expiry of existing leases in Auckland and the inability to find a suitable alternative facility in Auckland. Given the significant economic and social implications of the Ambury Properties Ltd Proposal for the Waikato District, the Hearings Panel agreed that the timing of the hearing on Ohinewai rezoning could be brought forward, and the decision issued in advance of the decisions on the rest of the Waikato Proposed District Plan.  

What about the other rezoning requests for Ohinewai?

The Hearings Panel initially considered  that its early decision would address all of the submissions which related to zoning at Ohinewai. Upon further reflection, the Hearings Panel considered that a more appropriate approach was to make a decision only on the Ambury Properties Ltd proposal because the Hearings Panel need to consider the other Ohinewai submissions seeking zones such as Country Living Zone and Residential Zone in the wider context of future growth throughout the district.

The decision therefore only relates to the submission from Ambury Properties Ltd [submitter number 764] and its related further submissions.

Who made the decision?

The Waikato District Council appointed a seven-person independent panel to hear and decide submissions on the Proposed Waikato District Plan. Not all seven commissioners sit on each hearing, and the following commissioners heard the Ohinewai submissions:

  1. Dr Phil Mitchell (Chair)
  2. Mr Paul Cooney (Deputy Chair)
  3. Mr Dynes Fulton
  4. Mr Weo Maag

When is development likely to start?

Irrespective of the decision on the zoning submission, Ambury Properties Ltd applied for, and were granted, resource consent to undertake earthworks on the site. In addition, Ambury Properties Ltd applied to have the resource consent application for the foam factory decided under the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act 2020.

Why are there earthworks already occurring on the site?

Ambury Properties Ltd applied for resource consent to undertake earthworks on the site.  This consent application and associated effects were assessed under the existing district plan rule framework (Rural Zone) and was granted, subject to conditions.

Wasn’t this proposal being fast tracked to the Government?

Ambury Properties Ltd has had its project “Ohinewai Foam Factory” referred as a project to be fast-tracked under the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act 2020. The scope of that project  includes the construction and operation of a foam factory and associated facilities, and a rail siding that will connect to the North Island Main Trunk rail line.

This is a completely separate process from the submission lodged by Ambury Properties Ltd on the Proposed Waikato District Plan, although it does relate to the same development. The consent for the foam factory will be processed under the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act 2020 regardless of the decision on zoning.

What happens now that a decision has been made to accept the rezoning?

Any appeal against the decision must be lodged with the Environment Court and served on Waikato District Council within 30 working days from service of the notice of decision.

 Any eligible person who wishes to become a party to any appeal under s274 of the RMA must give notice to do so to the court, the Waikato District Council and the appellant within a further 15 working days after the period for lodging appeals ends.

How can I support or oppose the decision?

Any person who made a submission or further submission on the Ambury Properties Ltd proposal may appeal to the Environment Court in accordance with the Resource Management Act (1991).

Specific people can then join an appeal by becoming what is called a “s274 party”, even if they were not a submitter or further submitter. A s274 party to an appeal is basically someone who wishes to support or oppose an appeal point. Not everyone is eligible to become a party to an appeal and there are specific criteria. 

If you are considering lodging an appeal, or becoming a s274 party, we suggest that you seek your own legal advice.

Do neighbours have a chance to provide feedback?

Neighbours can only appeal the decision if they made a further submission on the Ambury Properties Ltd submission.  If you are considering lodging an appeal, or becoming a s274 party, we suggest that you seek your own legal advice.

How long will appeals take?

Appeals can take some time to resolve, although the Environment Court often sets tight timeframes for reporting back to the Court to ensure progress is made. There are a range of mechanisms available for dispute resolution such as Court assisted mediation, and parties are encouraged to explore these before an appeal progresses to a Court hearing.

Can the decision change as a result of appeals?

The decision may change through the appeal process, depending on the nature of the appeals.