August 2013

In this issue:

Photo by kiwinz Waipa River Environment Minister Amy Adams Ngaruawahia open days Rangiriri


Alan LivingstonFrom Alan Livingston, Future Proof Implementation Committee Chairman

It is almost five years since Prime Minister John Key launched the Future Proof Strategy and the partners have continued with implementation, as you will see from the following stories.

We are now starting to look more closely at the monitoring of the actions we have undertaken as well as external influences on the strategy, such as population growth and rate of development, to ensure we continue to achieve our objectives.

Together with Waikato district, we are keeping a close eye on areas such as Pokeno and Tuakau in the northern part of our sub-region and how Auckland is managing its long term planning through the Unitary Plan, due to be notified at the end of September. It is likely that more development in South Auckland will result in greater pressure on the northern Waikato and the transport systems linking the two regions.

Finally, a review of the Future Proof Strategy is likely to get underway in the first half of next year, once the census results are available in December and the local government elections have decided governance for the Future Proof partnership.

This is my last newsletter as Chair of the Future Proof Implementation Committee. I have very much enjoyed my association with this unique project and I want to thank all of the e-newsletter readers for taking an interest in what we are doing.

Bring development of industrial land forward: Future Proof study 

Photo by kiwinzA recently completed Future Proof study on the Hamilton Airport and surrounding lands recommends that development of industrial land be brought forward to the next 10-15 years. 

The study, completed by the Future Proof partners and adopted by the Implementation Committee at its meeting in July, found that bringing forward development would improve the economic viability of Hamilton Airport. 

The study area encompasses the land west of the Waikato River and includes Mystery Creek as well as the land between the Airport and Hamilton city boundary.  

The study considers the existing policy framework and land use pattern. The role of the Hamilton International Airport is also described, including its contribution to the regional economy. Various landowner aspirations are identified and the existing and proposed infrastructure for the area including water supply and transport are considered.  Transport is particularly important given the future role of the Southern Links roading project. 

Future Proof implementation advisor Ken Tremaine says that one of the study’s key objectives was to provide a Future Proof position and evidence base on the Hamilton Airport and surrounding area land uses. This will inform the current Proposed Regional Policy Statement (RPS) appeal mediation and possible Environment Court hearings, as well as the Waipa District Plan hearings.  

The study also seeks to provide a process for resolving the conflicting objectives for the airport, enabling a piece of regionally significant infrastructure to meet its future needs and contribute fully to the regional economy while not undermining the agreed commercial and industrial land use pattern for the sub-region. 

The report recommendations signal continued support for the Airport as regionally significant infrastructure. This includes ensuring it is protected from reverse sensitivity issues through the implementation of noise contours and other mechanisms.  

In the interests of regional economic development, the report recommends that the land release included in the RPS for Stage 1 of the 40 hectare Titanium Park Northern Precinct be moved forward from 2041-2061 to the 2010-2021 period so that this land can be developed for airport-related activities. This would be on the proviso that a suitable solution for both the water and transport issues can be found.

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Alliance of technical experts to inform policy development 

Waipa River near headwatersAn alliance of experts will provide technical information from the early stages of a major project to help restore and protect the health of the Waikato and Waipa rivers. 

Healthy Rivers: Plan for Change/Wai Ora: He Rautaki Whakapaipai is occurring in the Waikato and Waipa river catchments, which includes all of the Future Proof sub-region. 

Waikato and Waipa River iwi and Waikato Regional Council are partners on this project, as set out in settlement and co-management legislation for the rivers. 

The project will collaborate with stakeholders to develop changes to the regional plan that will help, over time, to reduce sediment, bacteria, and the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus entering water bodies, including groundwater. 

The alliance of experts, dubbed the Technical Alliance, will provide the information and analysis required for development of sound policy. 

The Technical Alliance will endeavour to reach agreement on key issues early on, standing this project apart from other RMA processes. 

Technical Alliance members will be drawn from a diverse range of areas of expertise, including economics, M?tauranga M?ori (traditional M?ori knowledge) and environmental and social outcomes. 

The information provided by the Technical Alliance will be used by the project partners and a Collaborative Stakeholder Group, which will represent stakeholders and the broader community. 

A group of 75 stakeholders have already been invited to provide feedback on proposed members for the Technical Alliance, and the project partners are continuing to work with them to establish the group. 

“Growth in the sub-region must be well-managed to ensure the resulting pressures this could place on our rivers does not affect their health,” says Future Proof implementation advisor, Ken Tremaine. “From our perspective, it’s therefore important that the Future Proof Strategy ensures urban development is managed in a way that it does not further impact on water quality.” 

The proposed plan change is expected to be notified in November 2015. More information is available on Waikato Regional Council's website, where you can also register to receive updates on the project.

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Ruakura - next steps in Minister’s hands 

Environment Minister Amy AdamsFuture progress on the development of a large Ruakura commercial hub sits with Environment Minister Amy Adams (pictured left). 

In June this year Tainui Group Holdings (TGH) and Chedworth Park Limited made a joint application to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for a private plan change to kick start what has been described as their ‘$33 billion proposal’.  

The two companies’ proposal is to build an inland port, associated industrial development and residential properties at Ruakura, on the outskirts of Hamilton. The Ruakura area covered by the private plan change is about 380 hectares.  TGH’s master plan for Ruakura covers 800 hectares.  The company claims the total 30-50 year development would create 11,000 jobs and generate around $4.4 billion for the Waikato economy 

The EPA has since recommended to the Minister that the application is part of a proposal of national significance and should go before a board of inquiry.  A board would then have nine months to make a final decision.   

The Minister, though, has several options to consider in addition to the EPA recommendation.  She could decide that the matter is not nationally significant which would result in future development at Ruakura being determined by Hamilton City Council, or send it straight to the Environment Court for a decision.  No timeframe for the Minister’s decision has been set.

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Looking ahead for Ngaruawahia and towns

Ngaruawahia open dayA structure plan for Ngaruawahia and surrounding districts is in the early stages of development by Waikato District Council. 

Ngaruawahia is identified in the Future Proof Strategy as a future growth area. 

A series of well attended open days have been held in Ngaruawahia, Glen Massey, Taupiri and Horotiu with a further day planned for Te Kowhai in September. 

With the opening early next year of the Ngaruawahia section of the Waikato Expressway, SH1 from Taupiri to Horotiu will become a local road. That makes now a good time to engage with the community around future development for their townships. 

Jenni Vernon, the council’s strategic planning and district plan team leader, says some considerations are:

  • reclaiming the townships for the community
  • how open spaces including the former Ngaruawahia dump site on the highway could be used
  • what allowance could be made for future residential development
  • making the most of the historically and culturally significant “The Point” area in Ngaruawahia
  • town beautification and entranceways 

“We’re in the preliminary stages of exploring a structure plan for this area, but we have been pleased with community interest at the public information days, as well as contributions from our own staff who live in the area. 

“This plan will take these communities forward for the next 50 years so it’s vital a cohesive and collaborative approach to long term planning and development is followed.”

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Waikato Expressway's Rangiriri section well underway

RangiririProgress on the Rangiriri Section of the Waikato Expressway has been going well since construction began in March this year. The section is one of seven within the Waikato Expressway, one of New Zealand’s seven Roads of National Significance. 

The Rangiriri Section of the Waikato Expressway has a value of $105 million and is being built by Fletcher Construction. It consists of 4.8km of four lane median divided highway and includes two interchanges, one at Rangiriri and one at Te Kauwhata. The project is expected to be completed in late 2016 and will see the current SH1 realigned to the west, away from the Rangiriri Pa site. 

Environmental work was a focus in late June, when project ecologists relocated a large population of black mudfish, which are native to wetland environments. NZ Transport Agency acting project services manager, Peter Simcock, says the pocket of mudfish was discovered during the investigation stage of the project in 2009. 

“We put a construction sequence and management plan together with Fletcher Construction and Senior Ecologist David Riddell from Kessels Ecology, to preserve and enhance their habitat at Rangiriri, as part of the project,” he says. 

The mudfish were recently netted by ecologists and transferred to holding tanks at Waikato University for the duration of the project before being released back to their new home in late 2016. 

“The mudfish habitat is still disappearing, and so we need to preserve isolated populations such as the one at Rangiriri,” says Kessels Ecology senior freshwater ecologist, Jennifer Blair. 

Since then NZTA’s construction team has begun work on the Rangiriri Interchange, which includes a comprehensive traffic management plan over the coming months to direct traffic away from sections of the work at different times. 

The first diversion took place in late July and the next traffic management change in September will see traffic reduced to one lane heading north from Rangiriri to just past the intersection of SH1 and Te Kauwhata Road. This is to allow room for the construction of the Te Kauwhata Interchange. 

“We know these detours can be inconvenient for motorists, so we’d like to thank them for their patience while the Rangiriri project is underway,” says Mr Simcock says. “There’s quite a challenging roundabout to be built as part of the Rangiriri Interchange and the temporary road will allow contractors the room they need for this to happen without compromising the safety of motorists or our construction crews. 

“We’ve worked hard on our traffic management plans to ensure any delays for the travelling public on SH1 are kept to a minimum and that they are kept safe while the project is underway,” Mr Simcock says. 

“Completing this section of the Expressway is another important step towards completing the entire project. It will also make the journey significantly safer both for local traffic travelling between Te Kauwhata and Rangiriri and for all motorists on SH1.”

The Waikato Expressway is a key part of Future Proof Strategy implementation.

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Notices of Requirement lodged for Southern Links

Both Hamilton City Council and the NZ Transport Agency have now lodged their respective route designation applications ('Notice of Requirement') under the Resource Management Act with the relevant councils (Waipa and Waikato districts and Hamilton).

Resource consent applications to Waikato Regional Council for the key new bridges have also been lodged at the same time.

Find out more in the NZTA's media release and check out the Southern Links webpage for more information, including an updated Questions and Answers document.

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