CASE STUDY: An Attractive Retirement Village On A 3.8ha Site

Summerset Heritage Park


Project formulation
Environmental reporting
Planning and Consenting


Summerset Heritage Park, Ellerslie, is an attractive retirement village on a 3.8ha site. It comprises a range of independent living and care facilities including detached villas, townhouses, apartments and hospital level care facilities. In total, 252 residential units and 79 care beds have been developed on the site.

The buildings are set around a central lake, which was an original feature of the site reconstructed and enhanced to provide a focal point for the development. A range of other communal facilities such as a bowling green, indoor heated pool and library complete the comprehensively planned development.


Haines Planning’s involvement in the development comprised project formulation and environmental reporting on land use, stormwater discharge and earthworks consents.

The site was zoned Business 4 under the former Auckland Council Isthmus Plan. In addition, the Auckland Unitary Plan was publicly notified after the consent application was lodged, with the site having a proposed Light Industry zone. The scale of the development necessitated public notification, however a tactical approach to the consenting process enabled earthworks to commence early and achieve the project’s delivery time frame.

The site is surrounded by a mix of residential, commercial and industrial activities so the design had to appropriately reflect and respond to these adjoining uses. In addition, the site is underlaid with basalt so the proposal had to minimise earthworks and rock breaking and utilise the contours that had resulted from former quarrying activities. The ecological and cultural values of the site also had to be considered as, in addition to the lake, the site was covered in mature landscape plantings and provided habitat for a range of species.


The design places the four-storey main building and three large apartment buildings around the exterior of the site. The height of the apartment buildings varies according to adjoining uses, with buildings next to the industrial areas being seven storeys in height and those adjoining the residential area being six storeys. The first floors of the buildings are set into the basalt escarpment reducing the overall height of the buildings when viewed from the adjoining residential lots. The resource consent enables some buildings to be nearly 6m over the height limit for the zone.

Identifying the site’s attributes, constraints and opportunities, rather than strictly following the planning rules, resulted in a unique development that responds to its surroundings. The additional density enabled though the height of the buildings allowed retention of the lake and establishment of landscaped gardens which are a major attraction for village residents.