July 2012

In this issue:

       

Message from Bill Wasley, Future Proof Independent Chair

Bill Wasley

This newsletter highlights a number of actions being undertaken to implement the Future Proof Growth Management and Implementation Strategy which was adopted in 2009.

The strategic planning exercise recently completed by the Waikato District Council will provide the Future Proof partnership with valuable data for influencing the land use pattern between Hamilton and Auckland and will better inform subsequent planning processes.

The recently signed MoU between Waikato district and the Auckland Council is also an important tool for making sure development pressures on both sides of the boundary do not have negative impacts on “the neighbours”.

There is strong community interest in the completion of the Waikato Expressway stages given the benefits from an improved transport network. The Future Proof strategy recognises the importance of linking long term land use and transport.

The proposed Ruakura inland port and freight hub will make a significant contribution to the ongoing development of the upper North Island economy. The Future Proof partnership has been actively involved in anchoring the concept through the recent Waikato Regional Council Regional Policy Statement hearings.

As part of ongoing monitoring, the Future Proof Implementation Committee has recently reviewed all the actions in the strategy. The committee has identified a future focus on the impacts of population aging on housing and other community needs.

The committee has also decided to focus on strategy implementation and not lose its focus during the inevitable diversions of the current local government reform discussions.

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Ruakura inland port and freight hub

 

You may have heard about a regional ‘freight hub and inland port’ at Ruakura, on the outskirts of Hamilton, being proposed by Tainui Group Holdings Ltd (TGH).

A freight hub is a place where export and import containers can be packed and unpacked and transferred between road and rail.

At Ruakura, there are 500 hectares of undeveloped TGH land available at the intersection of the East Coast main trunk railway and the proposed Waikato Expressway. The plan is for a gradually staged development over 30-50 years. It is proposed that the inland port and freight hub will cover approximately one-third of the land, with the remainder being light industrial, commercial and residential.

TGH believes the volume of freight from the Waikato will grow by more than 100 per cent over the next 20 years. This will place huge pressure on rail and trucking services, and on local roads. The rail link between Hamilton and Tauranga, for example, already carries New Zealand’s highest level of freight per kilometre. 

These infrastructure pressures are being looked at closely by the Future Proof partnership, which comprises Waikato Regional Council, Hamilton City Council, Waipa and Waikato district councils and Taangata Whenua, working with the NZ Transport Agency.

TGH estimates the inland port and associated employment uses will provide up to 11,000 new jobs, bring new investment to the region and create many opportunities for local businesses to grow. Commuter traffic flows, already straining the capacity of the river bridges, will be reduced for those working there.  

In July 2011 a large area of land to the east of the city was transferred from Waikato district into Hamilton city. This area includes rural properties, AgResearch and Waikato Innovation Park, and borders Waikato University. Much of this land is owned by TGH and Chedworth Properties.

Hamilton City Council is working with these groups on a development plan which will evolve over several decades. This Ruakura Structure Plan will be included in the city's new Draft District Plan, which will go out for formal notification and consultation in October.

The city council believes there are several strategic benefits to Ruakura:

  • it is close to the central city
  • the East Coast and Auckland-Wellington main trunk railway lines pass through it
  • a future part of the Waikato Expressway forms its eastern border.

As well as the inland container port other proposals for this area include a new innovation and research precinct, a range of housing developments, new commercial and retail areas, open spaces, parks and cycleways.

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The importance of strategic planning

 

From its origins in the military to its vital role in business, strategic planning is making its mark in local government in New Zealand. The Waikato District Council has embraced a strategic planning programme which focuses on long term forward planning as opposed to simply reacting to things happening around them. 

This proactive approach led to a scoping study being recently undertaken of the north and central parts of the Waikato district.

The study found the Waikato area is likely to be most affected by two key developments in the near future. The first is the staged completion of the Waikato Expressway which will entail by-passing Ngaruawahia in 2013 and Huntly in 2019. The second is the proposal in the Auckland Plan for considerable greenfield urban development in and near Pukekohe.

Some of the key findings:

• The area’s wellbeing relates to both its natural resources and close proximity to Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

• Vitally important are the two nationally significant arterial road corridors, State Highway One and State Highway Two. These transport corridors provide a spine for a network of small towns and villages that provide services to the surrounding rural areas.

• Farming ranges from intensive vegetable and horticultural crops in the vicinity of Onewhero and Tuakau, to dairy on the floodplain and pastoral beef and sheep in the hill country. Added to this mix are scattered blocks of forestry.

• Since there are no large towns to act as major internal focal points, activities within the area tend to orientate outwards to Pukekohe, Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga.

• In addition to farming, coal mining and power generation are other strategically important economic activities. Coal mining takes place near Huntly and Maramarua and is used mainly for fuelling the Huntly thermal power station and the Glenbrook steel mill.

• Although a large number of international and local tourists travel through the area, the value of tourism to the area is currently negligible.

The study concludes with the recommendation that more specific strategic plans be prepared for Tuakau, Ngaruawahia and Huntly in response to the roll-out of the Waikato Expressway and Auckland’s projected growth.

Information from the study gives Future Proof partners a better understanding of what is happening in the northern Waikato. It also supports Future Proof’s decision to extend the sub-region’s northern boundary to include Pokeno and Tuakau.

Overall, data from the study will help inform Future Proof’s strategic and planning work, particularly around land use and transport on the corridor between Auckland and Hamilton, highlighting the value of studies like these being carried out.

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Waikato Expressway project tracking well for pre-Christmas opening

 

     

The NZ Transport Agency’s (NZTA) Te Rapa section of the Waikato Expressway reached a milestone late last month, with the opening and naming of the ‘Central Road’ interchange to ‘Koura Drive’.

The road was officially opened at a low-key NZTA ceremony on Thursday, 28 June.

NZTA Waikato Expressway principal project manager, Richard Young, said the event was held in recognition of how the NZTA and Hamilton City Council are working together to ensure the Te Rapa section of the Waikato Expressway is fully future-proofed and integrated into the council’s and the Waikato region’s long-term development plans.

Mr Young said the positioning of the Koura Drive interchange is being driven by the city’s long-term growth plan for the Rotokauri area. The opening of Koura Drive marks the completion of stage one of the project, with Ruffell Road now also closed to traffic and Onion Road realigned.

He said the $194 million 7.3km Te Rapa section of the Waikato Expressway project is running approximately six months ahead of schedule. It includes two local roads that will pass under the completed Expressway. This has been designed to incorporate urban growth in the Rotokauri area and provides part of a future Hamilton northern arterial route.

Dedicated shared pedestrian and cyclist paths are also being provided along considerable lengths of the section. “This will link the future residential areas on the east of the Expressway to the development areas on the west,” Mr Young said.

Hamilton Mayor, Julie Hardaker, said the project is a significant development for Hamilton’s growth. “This Expressway is vital infrastructure for our city and for economic growth in the region. With the city’s growth continuing at a fast rate, the Waikato Expressway will be crucial in ensuring smooth traffic flow in and around Hamilton.”

Stage two of the Te Rapa section of the Expressway project will be completed on September 14, which will see Te Kowhai Road closed on the eastern side of the Expressway and new traffic signals erected at Ruffell Road. Stage three, the official opening the Te Rapa section of the Waikato Expressway to traffic, is planned for early December this year.

Follow this project on the NZTA’s Waikato Expressway Facebook page: www.facebook.com/waikatoexpressway

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Auckland and Waikato announce alliance

 
 

Auckland Council and Waikato District Council have signed a Memorandum of Understanding and Alliance.

The agreement, signed last month, establishes a long-term collaborative working relationship between the two councils with regard to cross-boundary issues of mutual interest.

The two councils share a common boundary from Kariotahi Beach on the Tasman Sea virtually all the way to the Firth of Thames. It was therefore important in planning for future growth that the Memorandum of Understanding and Alliance (MOU) was established.

Waikato District Council mayor, Allan Sanson, said although the two councils already work collectively on planning matters, “the MOU enables us to ensure we take an informed and holistic view on any issues that cut across the Auckland and Waikato boundaries.

“What this means is that although as councils we may have different priorities, we can see and plan for growth in areas like Pukekohe and Pokeno and work together in an open way to enhance planning, development, transport and economic growth.”

The Waikato district sits in the heart of the Golden Triangle of Auckland, Hamilton and the Bay of Plenty. It lies at the gateway of a northern corridor between Hamilton and Auckland along State Highway 1 and generates a significant contribution to the economic wealth of New Zealand.

Mayor Sanson says the agreement will allow the two councils to manage and understand differences when planning for future cross-boundary urban and rural land use, population growth, industrial land development, roads, water and wastewater services and other strategic issues.

Given the size of Auckland as well as the costs of land for development, the MoU is also helpful to the Future Proof partners since there will inevitably be pressures on the northern boundary of the Auckland to Hamilton corridor. The MoU is one mechanism for helping manage these.

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Consultation period nearing end

3 Waters coverTime is running out to make a submission on Future Proof’s Draft Sub-Regional Three Waters Strategy, which looks at management of water supply, stormwater and wastewater until 2062.

The high level, strategic document outlines issues and options for the management of resources, which will ultimately guide decision making on more detailed and focused action plans prepared by Hamilton city, Waipa and Waikato district councils in the future.

Pressures from the demand for limited water resources in the sub-region are not new but they are building as population increases and land use intensifies.

Future Proof recognises the increasing need to manage water supply, wastewater and stormwater – known as the ‘three waters’ – in a sustainable and integrated way to ensure availability of services to growth areas and protection of the environment for future generations.

The growth of urban areas and the concentration of population and industry in these areas is placing increasing demand on water resources. This is occurring at the same time as a significant increase in competing demands for water from other users such as the agricultural sector and the energy sector.

For the Three Waters Sub-regional Strategy to be effective, it is critical that the management and regulation of water supply, wastewater and stormwater is sufficiently integrated in both territorial and regional authority decision making, and in land use planning to ensure efficiency and consistency.

All submissions on the strategy must be received by close of business on Tuesday 31 July. Visit our 'Have your say' page to fill in the online form or to download a copy of the submission form.

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