Massive Drury South Crossing business park

6:26 PM Wednesday January 23, 2019 Paul Charman

An aerial view of the Drury South Crossing development site. Photo / Supplied

With Auckland in dire need of industrial land, civil works are well advanced for Stevenson Group’s $800 million, 361ha Drury South Crossing business park development.

Businesses are checking out the sites on which some building could begin in about 12 months.

Drury South Crossing CEO Stephen Hughes says 200 people attended an on-site community open day late last year.

“We have been a little surprised with the strength of inquiry for sites and are certainly further ahead with sales than we expected to be at this stage,” he says.

Hughes says Drury South Crossing has blocks of up to 20ha for buildings, warehouse and factories; is close to main routes north-and-south; and has solid relationships with regulators, iwi and the public.

The Stevenson Group has worked co-operatively with Auckland Council — particularly Watercare Services and Auckland Transport — to develop the land between its Drury quarry and the Southern Motorway.

This required extensive local consultation and agreement with council on a timetable and funding plan to create a new roading network, linkages with existing roads, water, stormwater and sewerage services.

“All the necessary environmental consents have been obtained and we’ve also worked alongside local iwi and particularly Ngati Tamaoho, to ensure future of the neglected Hingaia and Maketu Streams, which flow through the overall site.

“These waterways are being remediated, and there will be extensive native planting undertaken,” says Hughes.

“This will become a feature of the overall development, and a new wetland area will treat and improve water quality entering the Hingaia stream.

“About 90ha of the original Stevenson site will be used for these modifications, plus new community facilities, including recreation areas, parks, walking and cycling tracks.”

Auckland Council too has helped to co-ordinate the major public works associated with project, which carries lofty expectations over the next few years.

It is intended all this will deliver thousands of jobs and houses; a new roading pattern for the area; enhanced local amenities and the restoration of significant streams and wetlands.

Hughes explains that Stevenson rationalised its formidable land holdings in the area in order to focus on the 361ha business park.

The company recently sold its 45ha Special Housing Area (one of three in the immediate area) to Classic Developments, part of the Classic Group of companies that also includes national group home builder Classic Builders.

Up to 800 homes will be built, starting this year, with a focus on affordability.

Stevenson also recently sold its quarry and construction materials business to roading contractor Fulton Hogan. Hughes knows his customers are responding to a general shortage of industrial land in Auckland and connectivity in city’s fast-growing south.

“Buyers will have direct access to-and-from metropolitan Auckland and its port to the north, plus to the Port of Tauranga and the various inland ports and distribution centres in South Auckland and Hamilton,” he says.

“We are in negotiations on several large blocks of up to 20ha — the development could be more-than-half sold by late 2019.

“Potential investors see the opportunity to purchase sites outright, rather than lease them; and acquire large blocks in line with business strategies.”

Stevenson says buyers have been chasing sites from half-a-hectare, right up to 30 hectares.

“And, while one of the first purchasers is a Hamilton company wanting to shift north, most inquiry has come from Auckland businesses. Sites are being made available progressively as complementary public works are completed,” he adds.

Construction of the first commercial buildings, warehouses and factories is expected to commence in a little over a year.

Hughes says the location is surrounded by supporting infrastructure. It is immediately to the east of the State Highway 1 Southern Motorway and Great South Rd - between the Drury and Ramarama turnoffs - with services close by.

An added attraction for site purchasers is three new housing estates adjoining the business park; with planning at various stages for town centres; retail and community facilities; a school; a railway station and a hotel.

“A large proportion of staff employed in the new businesses is expected to live locally, leading to short commutes. Site works to enable housing development is underway.

The massive business park project is expected to create over 5000 new jobs directly and a further 10,000 indirectly in the Auckland region. It is expected to contribute almost $800 million-a-year to GDP locally, plus a further $2.3 billion annually to regional GDP.

Hughes expects that over the construction phase there will be an additional, one-off contribution to GDP of about $700m.

Though a relative newcomer as a major developer, Stevenson Group has been active for more than a century in mining and quarrying — plus industries including agriculture — throughout New Zealand.

Hughes says a strategy of providing a ‘win-win’ for all parties surrounding its South Auckland quarry asset seems to have paid off. “Our aim has been to meet the needs of businesses and home owners, while improving the natural environment,” says Hughes.

“All this, while ensuring continuity of the supply of aggregates which are so vital for the future development of both city and region.”