November 2012

In this issue:

 Proposed RPS Te Rapa Expressway Tamahere Structure Plan Ring Rd opening New Future Proof role

Message from Bill Wasley, Future Proof Independent Chair

Bill Wasley

As the year draws to a close I would like to reflect on some of the key achievements of the Future Proof partnership during 2012 as we continue with the critical phase of implementing the Strategy adopted in 2009. Some of the significant milestones reached include:

Anchoring the Strategy

  • Decisions released by the Waikato Regional Council on the Proposed Waikato Regional Policy Statement which anchors the Future Proof settlement pattern. The partnership put forward a comprehensive case to the hearings earlier in the year and the content of the case was largely accepted in the decisions.
  • Ongoing input into processes and documents which anchor the Future Proof settlement pattern, for example input into the Hamilton City Plan discussion document, the Proposed Waipa District Plan and plan changes to the Waikato District Plan.

Transport planning and investment

  • Providing ongoing land use planning confidence to the NZTA in order to underpin the critical investment needed to complete the Waikato Expressway. NZTA announced in August that the all the stages of the Expressway are on track to be completed by 2019. The recently completed Te Rapa Bypass, opening this weekend, is part of this project.
  • The partnership also contributed to the Regional Land Transport Programme which is the key tool for implementing and funding the transport network and underpins long term land use planning.
  • Regional Public Transport Plan where the partnership focussed on the challenges for forward funding passenger transport into new growth areas in order to support better public transport services.

Strategic thinking

  • Completion of the Hamilton to Auckland Corridor Study which has provided the partnership with insights into what development may occur in the future and how planning in the Waikato can more effectively link with the large-scale plans of the new Auckland Council.

Strategy monitoring

  • The partnership has also focussed on reviewing all of the Strategy actions and on making sure that the land use pattern south of Hamilton does not compromise the ability of morning and evening traffic getting to and from Hamilton city once the Expressway is completed.

Finally, with Christmas fast approaching, I would like to acknowledge the effective manner in which the Future Proof partnership has worked in 2012 and wish all our readers a happy and safe festive season. We look forward to bringing more news from the Future Proof partnership in the New Year as we continue with Strategy implementation.

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Policy protects environment to help grow economy

Proposed RPS decisions

The regional council has this month released decisions on the Waikato’s most significant policy document designed to both protect the natural environment and contribute to the region’s economic performance, productivity and prosperity.

The proposed Regional Policy Statement (RPS) was released for public submissions two years ago. It is a far reaching planning tool that sets out the overall regional direction for the use, management and protection of Waikato’s natural and physical resources over the next 10 years and beyond.

A hearings committee, chaired by independent commissioner Alan Watson, sat for 37 days of hearings, heard 270 people, and considered 268 submissions requiring 10,015 separate decision points.

The Future Proof submission contributed to some changes made to the decisions version of the proposed RPS.

The focus of the Future Proof submission was on Chapter 6 of the proposed RPS (Built Environment) which aims to ensure that management and development of land occurs in a way which is integrated with appropriate provision of infrastructure.

Waikato Regional Council has looked at projected housing requirements and industrial and commercial land requirements, and ensured through the proposed RPS that there is sufficient room and integration with infrastructure to accommodate demand in the Future Proof sub-region over the next 50 years.  This helps address government concerns with land availability as a driver of affordable housing isues.

Significant changes made to chapter 6 include:

  • The industrial land allocation table has been amended to include additional industrial land at Ruakura and Hautapu, and to include Tuakau and Pokeno.
  • Provisions have been added to provide for flexibility of the release of industrial land, subject to certain criteria being met.
  • Existing provisions for a centres-based approach to commercial development are retained and strengthened, including the addition of provisions in relation to protecting the role of the Hamilton CBD.
  • Provisions have been included to address the issue of reverse sensitivity.

waikato Regional Council chairman Peter Buckley said it was clear the hearings committee’s decisions had resulted in a major piece of policy that was “uniquely Waikato” and set the foundations for the region’s environmental protection and regional growth.

“The committee has drawn together many complex strands to provide a coherent framework for the use and development of land, balanced with resource management and protection. These concepts are equally applicable to managing impacts on the Waikato River as they are to providing for future urban and industrial growth around Hamilton,” he said.

“The decisions reflect the desire of submitters for a policy with a more collaborative approach, and a means of ensuring partnerships has been inserted into the proposed RPS. They also recognise that there are many tasks for the regional council and other local councils when it comes to improving the region’s environment, that these can’t all be done at once and that there are priorities for action. This takes into account feedback from local councils.”

More information is available on Waikato Regional Council’s website: www.waikatoregion.govt.nz/rpsreview.

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Celebrate the opening of Te Rapa section of the Expressway

Te Rapa Expressway opening

A community open day is being held this Saturday, 1 December, to celebrate the completion of the NZ Transport Agency’s (NZTA) Waikato Expressway, Te Rapa section.

The 8km section of Expressway will be formally opened by Prime Minister John Key, at a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Koura Drive interchange between 11 am and midday.

Waikato Expressway principal project manager Richard Young said the NZTA is looking forward to hosting the open day, which promises to be a memorable community event.

“It is a chance for people to celebrate the completion of this significant piece of infrastructure for the region and the city and be among the first to run or walk the road before it is opened to traffic.” 

The NZTA has worked closely with key stakeholders, the Hamilton City Council and Waikato District Council, to ensure the Te Rapa section is fully future proofed and integrated in the city and the region’s long term development plans.

Particular features include the elevation of the section, which has allowed for two over bridges to be constructed. Local roads will eventually be built underneath these bridges as part of the Hamilton City Council’s Rotokauri Structure Plan.

The open day will start at 8am with a timed fun run and walk in partnership with Sport Waikato and Athletics Waikato Bay of Plenty. Options for runs of 12km, 6km and a kids’ 3km course are included. To enter online visit: www.sportwaikato.org.nz.

The road is open for a free public walkover from 10am to 3pm. Families are encouraged to bring along their children with prams, bikes or scooters to explore the new road before it is opened to traffic on Monday 3 December. Public parking will be accessed at the Horotiu roundabouts. Pedestrian access will be at the new interchange on Avalon Drive, by Wintec.

The event will include entertainment throughout the day, food stalls and information on how the road was constructed.  Visitors are asked to bring sun protection, water and suitable footwear.

The $194 million Te Rapa section included widening Avalon Drive and creating a new greenfield route to the west of the current State Highway 1. Once complete, the Waikato Expressway will provide a key transport corridor between Auckland and Waikato, reduce travel times between Auckland and Tirau by 35 minutes and significantly decrease the number of serious crashes in the region.

The project is jointly funded by the NZTA (90 per cent), Hamilton City Council (8 per cent) and Waikato District Council (2 per cent).

The Te Rapa section of the Expressway has been completed by the Te Rapa Alliance, made up of the NZTA, Opus International Consultants and contractors Fulton Hogan. The project has been delivered six months ahead of schedule.

More information on the Te Rapa section and other sections of the Waikato Expressway can be found on the NZ Transport Agency’s website at www.nzta.govt.nz/waikato-expressway or on the Waikato Expressway’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/waikatoexpressway.

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Retail village on the cards for Tamahere

Tamahere Structure Plan

Tamahere could soon be home to a neighbourhood village centre, as part of Waikato District Council’s Tamahere Structure Plan.

The plan change was notified in July 2012, and includes the Tamahere Village Business Zone as one of its key features. It provides for the establishment of a compact village retail centre, which would be the focal point of the community and allows for a diverse range of small scale commercial development and community activities. The council believes having a single neighbourhood village centre for these activities is preferable to having commercial development scattered throughout the Tamahere Country Living Zone (CLZ). 

Development in the Tamahere Village Business Zone would be integrated with the adjoining public recreation reserve, Village Green and community facilities. It would also recognise local cultural and historic values and have a building scale, form and layout that are consistent with the Tamahere Village Design Guide and Concept Plan.

The structure plan provisions amend rules and maps in the District Plan to manage the impacts of development in the Tamahere CLZ. It also proposes the rezoning of some land for future retail and recreation activities, updates roads and walkways, and recommends amendments for stormwater and wastewater management along with some new provisions and design guidelines.

Extensive consultation was undertaken prior to the notification of the structure plan and submitters had the option to present at the hearing on 21 and 22 November 2012.

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Ringing in road changes

Ring Rd opening
Ring Rd opening

The Hamilton Ring Road project marked another milestone with the opening in October of a two kilometre section between Carrs Road and Fifth Avenue. 

Hamilton City Council’s City Development Manager Andrew Parsons says the Carrs Road-Fifth Avenue section is a step towards alleviating traffic pressure on local roads in the area, such as Tramway Road.

“Road users will see the benefit of this section of the Ring Road when it goes further south over the rail line and connect with Ruakura Rd, where we are building a large new intersection controlled by traffic lights. Target date for opening that intersection is early 2013,” Mr Parsons says.

Construction of the section of Wairere Drive from Fifth Ave roundabout to Ruakura Rd is well advanced through this section and will open to coincide with the completion of the new Wairere Drive/Ruakura Road intersection currently under construction, and is expected to open early 2013.

Just a few hundred metres west of Ruakura Road, the Peachgrove Road-Te Aroha Street intersection is also scheduled for a major upgrade in coming months.

“By completing the Wairere Dr-Ruakura Rd junction first, university and Ruakura traffic will have an alternative route while we carry out work at Peachgrove-Te Aroha,” Mr Parsons says.

Elsewhere on the Ring Road project, construction is on schedule: Mr Parsons says Council and its contractors are on track to complete the major reconfiguration of the River Road Peachgrove Road roundabout before Christmas.

Mr Parsons says the $84 million Ring Road project will improve accessibility for all road users around the city, and is not strictly for motor vehicles. 

“One of the important aspects of the Ring Road is that it will also cater for cyclists and pedestrians, with dedicated lanes for them.”

The New Zealand Transport Agency is contributing 55 per of the budget for the project.

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Signalling change at Te Rapa Road/The Base intersection

The Base

Work is on track to transform the Te Rapa Road/The Base roundabout on State Highway 1 into an intersection controlled by traffic signals.

Hamilton City Council development manager Andrew Parsons said that once complete the new intersection will be able to better cope with current and future traffic flows, as growth in this area is expected to continue. The change will also provide a safer environment for cyclists and pedestrians.

“There has been extensive analysis of traffic flows at The Base roundabout, including factoring in current and future growth in the wider area,” he said. “The roundabout has served well in the past, but signals are now required to provide better traffic management and better facilities for cyclists and pedestrians to get across a very busy road.”

Major work on the intersection got underway in October by Cambridge Construction Company, with most of the work expected to be complete by the end of this month.

To minimise disruption during this period, most of the activity is taking place at night outside of commuter traffic times and The Base’s normal operating hours. This enables the current road capacity of two lanes in each direction to be maintained, except during the overnight work period between 9pm and 6am when traffic access is still available via at least one lane in each direction.

The $4.5 million project is being jointly funded between Tainui Group Holdings, Hamilton City Council and the NZ Transport Agency.

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New Future Proof role advertised

New Future Proof role

A Future Proof programme manager is expected to be appointed in the coming weeks and to start work early in 2013.

Applications for the newly-created position closed on Monday 12 November.

Over 18 months, the contractor will be responsible for the leadership and management of Future Proof implementation through working with the partner organisations.

Specific responsibilities include strategic regional planning and leadership of associated processes, facilitating community engagement and communication actions, programme and contract management and the provision of high level technical advice based on national and international research, and the monitoring of Resource Management Act, Local Government Act and other relevant frameworks.

“The position is a unique leadership opportunity to influence the future development of a region,” said Future Proof’s independent chair Bill Wasley. “It will require a strong relationship management and integrated planning.”

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