Porirua’s next sub­urb


Two de­vel­op­ers have snapped up Plim­mer­ton Farm north of Porirua, with plans to turn it into the city’s next sub­urb.

The farm, a 386-hectare site be­side State High­way 1, was put on the mar­ket once in 2007 and again in Jan­uary 2016.

Dur­ing the past two and a half years, mul­ti­ple of­fers have flooded in, but the win­ning bid came from Up­per Hutt de­vel­oper Mal­colm Gil­lies and his busi­ness part­ner Kevin Melville.

The duo plan to build up­wards of 1500 sec­tions and 60 life­style blocks on the site, with some lots ex­pected to hit the mar­ket in late 2020.

Plim­mer­ton Farm is thought to be the largest area of land des­tined for hous­ing to be sold as a sin­gle trans­ac­tion in the Welling­ton re­gion.

Gil­lies said up to 100 sites would be de­vel­oped every year from the turn­ing of the first sod af­ter the com­ple­tion of Trans­mis­sion Gully in 2020.

‘‘That’s not too far away so we are re­ally geared up to make that hap­pen.’’

It would take about 20 years for the site to be­come fully de­vel­oped, with com­mer­cial and in­dus­trial sites also on the cards, he said.

‘‘We are ex­cited about it. We are hop­ing peo­ple will see there is a need for it.

‘‘I’ve heard enough from my in­dus­try to know peo­ple are al­ready say­ing they want to build there. This will be a ter­rific sub­urb.’’

Gil­lies and Melville had been eye­ing up the farm for about five or six years, he said.

The land is cur­rently zoned for farm­ing, but is part of the Porirua City Coun­cil North­ern Growth Struc­ture Plan. In 2016, it had a rate­able value of $3m, but has pre­vi­ously been as­sessed as be­ing worth more than $60m.

The Benge fam­ily have owned the land, on the eastern side of State High­way 1 be­tween Plim­mer­ton and Whenua Tapu, since the 1960s. In 2006, a de­tailed as­sess­ment was un­der­taken by a sub­sidiary of Mac­quarie Bank, but the sale fell through be­cause of the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis.

Gollins Com­mer­cial prin­ci­pal Chris Gollins said the sale be­came un­con­di­tional last week af­ter a roller coaster two and a half years. ‘‘[Though] it’s re­ally been 11 years as we first got the prop­erty un­der con­tract in 2007, only to be beaten by the GFC.’’

In­ter­est from po­ten­tial buy­ers, in­clud­ing var­i­ous Chi­nese groups, failed to get across the line, Gollins said.

‘‘But de­spite frus­tra­tions, the fam­ily have re­mained con­fi­dent through­out,’’ he said.

Gil­lies and Melville were the ‘‘per­fect de­vel­op­ers’’ for the farm, as they had de­vel­oped more than 1800 sec­tions in the Hutt Val­ley and Wairarapa over the past 20 years, Gollins said.

Ian Benge has man­aged the farm since 1979.

It had al­ways been a unique life­style for his fam­ily, he said.

‘‘We’re re­ally val­ued the ru­ral and ur­ban mix the farm, so close to a great city com­mu­nity has given us. So too have the wider fam­ily and friends who’ve shared it with us.

‘‘The fu­ture’s ex­cit­ing and we won’t be shift­ing far from here, that’s for sure.’’

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