February 2014

In this issue:

      

Waikato looks to future proof productive heartland as Auckland grows

 Paula Southgate
Paula Southgate
Bob Simcock
Bob Simcock

As Auckland grows, the effects of its spread reach ever further into the Waikato region.

The effect is on demand for greenfields sites for housing, for the use of resources and for space for recreation. The Auckland region looks to Waikato for its water, its electricity, roading material and the raw product to keep its industries humming.  Its population uses the Waikato as a playground, a main transport corridor and a landfill.

But now the Waikato Regional Council is asking: What are the sustainable limits to growth in Auckland?

Waikato Regional Council’s strategy and policy committee recently approved the regional council’s submission points to the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan, highlighting the need for more clarity about how the city plans to identify and manage the economic, transport and environmental issues that spill over into Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Northland regions.

“The government sees Auckland as New Zealand’s economic driver with Waikato supporting it but this has the potential to create a massive imbalance,” said committee chair Bob Simcock.

“Waikato has all the resources - which Auckland wants to meet its growth needs - yet Auckland appears to think it can just take what it wants at no cost.

“Auckland needs to recognise its spillover effects on its neighbours.”

Cr Simcock said he would expect Auckland to give greater recognition to the relationship between its economy and Waikato’s primary production sector.

“We must work together and coordinate the economic strategies and growth plans of our regions.”

The 2013 Census showed Auckland’s population had grown to more than 1.4 million, with a third of all New Zealanders now living in Auckland. The Auckland Council is now grappling with the big decisions involved with providing services and infrastructure to its growing population.

To prepare for expected ongoing growth, Auckland Council’s proposed plan sets out how the city will accommodate an extra million people over the next 30 years.

Waikato Regional Council chairperson Paula Southgate said Waikato supported working through the issues with the Upper North Island Strategic Alliance (UNISA), comprising Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Northland regional councils, Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga city councils and the Whangarei District Council. This collaborative council forum was set up to respond to and manage a range of inter-regional and inter-metropolitan issues.

The regional council is also advocating for the Auckland Council to take account of growth strategies within the Upper North Island including the Future Proof Growth Strategy, and Bay of Plenty’s Smartgrowth.

“Waikato and the Bay of Plenty represent a significant national economic hub and we need to work together, with Auckland, to map out the efficient and equitable use of our land, water, mineral, aggregates and other resources,” she says.

“The question has to be asked what are the sustainable limits to Auckland’s growth?”

The regional council’s submission to the proposed Auckland plan covers four main themes including population growth, transport linkages, economic development and the natural environment.

In particular, the regional council wants the Auckland plan to be clear about a range of cross-boundary issues by showing how the city:

  • will achieve ‘compact growth’ and manage the release of greenfield land for housing and the potential for overspill growth into the Waikato region
  • protect the rural environment, particularly high class soils needed to produce food
  • sustainably manage its growing need for resources including energy, water and aggregates
  • will enable economic wellbeing by aligning economic and infrastructure development strategies with those of neighbouring regions to maximise opportunities and ensure public funds are invested wisely
  • will align land use and infrastructure, particularly transport infrastructure, to enable freight movement and related facilities, including the development of inland ports, in the Upper North Island
  • will recognise the impact of Auckland’s growing population on holiday locations in the Waikato region and also on infrastructure and facilities servicing Auckland such as the Hampton Downs Landfill and the Waikato River water treatment plant and pipeline, to name just two
  • plans to protect and enhance the natural environment, including coastal areas such as the Hauraki Gulf, enhance biodiversity and manage plant and animal pests
  • will recognise the need for natural hazard and civil defence emergency management to be aligned across regional boundaries.

Submissions to the Auckland Plan closed at the end of February.

A submission on the plan has also been made by the Future Proof implementation committee which, among other things, covers:

  • the need for effective inter-regional relationships
  • linkages between long term land use and effective transport from Waikato to Auckland
  • Auckland’s urban development not pressuring the Waikato’s high-quality soils
  • sustainable water use.

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New committee and new chair

Allan Sanson

Waikato district mayor Allan Sanson (pictured left) has been appointed chair of the Future Proof implementation committee at its first meeting since last October’s local government elections.

The new mayor of Waipa district, Jim Mylchreest, was elected the deputy chair.

The committee comprises leaders from Waikato Regional Council, Waipa and Waikato district councils, and Hamilton city, as well as tangata whenua. The NZ Transport Agency is an advisor to the committee.

The committee members met for the first time in Hamilton this month. They are:

  • Waikato Regional Council chairperson Paula Southgate and councillor Peter Buckley
  • Hamilton City Council mayor Julie Hardaker and councillor Garry Mallett
  • Waikato District Council mayor Allan Sanson and councillor Dynes Fulton
  • Waipa District Council mayor Jim Mylchreest and councillor Grahame Webber
  • Tangata whenua representative Taotahi Pihama (a second representative is still to be appointed).

During the meeting, the committee decided an independent chairperson is likely to be appointed in the coming months.

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Busy year ahead for Future Proof

The Future Proof partners have a busy year ahead, with a heavy emphasis on how development should occur in the sub-region and ensuring it has the supporting infrastructure.

The focus will be on:

• providing continuing input to Waikato Regional Council’s proposed Regional Policy Statement

• producing evidence for appeals to the Environment Court on the Waipa District Plan and the Hamilton District Plan

• producing evidence for the Board of Inquiry on the Tainui Group Holdings Ltd application for the Ruakura inland port

• updating the settlement pattern to help Future Proof partners in their preparation of 30-year infrastructure strategies

• preparing evidence for the Southern Links Notice of Requirement hearing

• providing continued support for the Waikato Expressway designations

• providing input into the Auckland Unitary Plan to ensure the long term planning aspirations of the Auckland Council and the Future Proof sub-region are in alignment.

A partial update of the Future Proof Strategy will also be undertaken to incorporate new demographics, plus any other work needed to support the development of the infrastructure strategies. This Future Proof Strategy review will occur later this year and early in 2015.

Read more in the Future Proof implementation committee agenda, available online.

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Second milestone for the Waikato Expressway

Minister Gerry Brownlee cuts the
ribbon
to officially open the new section
of road.

Traffic has been using the second section of the Waikato Expressway for two months now, since it opened to traffic in December last year.

The December 14 official ceremony and community open day marking the Ngaruawahia section’s completion was attended by a large crowd who watched Minister of Transport, Gerry Brownlee, cut the ribbon. Also at the event were NZ Transport Agency officials and project members along with local authority figures and iwi guests from Waikato-Tainui.

The new 12.3km section bypasses Ngaruawahia and stretches from Taupiri in the north to Horotiu in the south. The approximately $200 million project was built by contractor Fletcher Construction and completed for around $50 million below its original cost estimate of $250 million.

The Ngaruawahia Section joins to the existing Te Rapa section of the Waikato Expressway, which opened in December 2012. It includes interchanges for the yet-to-be-built Huntly and Hamilton sections. Together, the Te Rapa and Ngaruawahia sections provide an estimated average saving of at least eight minutes to a peak time journey between Taupiri and Hamilton.

“Our data over the last year has shown that the Te Rapa section is carrying approximately 10,000 vehicles a day and providing travel time savings of 4-5 minutes and we expect similar time savings to be achieved on the new Ngaruawahia section,” says NZ Transport Agency regional director, Harry Wilson.

“The Waikato Expressway is a key piece of infrastructure being constructed within the Future Proof growth strategy area,” Mr Wilson says. “This was confirmed during our opening ceremony for Ngaruawahia, when Waikato district mayor Allan Sanson commented that he could not overstate how important the Expressway is for the Waikato District. He emphasised how vital it is to our future growth and prosperity, providing a modern transport link that will encourage and it is already encouraging, businesses and industries to relocate to our region.”

For more information including updated monthly newsletters for each section, see www.nzta.govt.nz/waikatoexpressway or ‘like’ the Expressway on Facebook at www.facebook.com/waikatoexpressway

Pictured L to R above: Waikato National MP Lindsay Tisch, NZ Transport Agency Waikato/BOP Highways Manager Kaye Clark, NZ Transport Agency Regional Director Harry Wilson, Waikato-Tainui chairperson for Te Arataura (Waikato-Tainui Board) Rahuui Papa, Minister of Transport Gerry Brownlee, Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson, Fletcher Construction General Manager, Infrastructure, David Jewell and Waikato-Tainui kaumatua Pokaia Nepia, National MP for Hamilton East, David Bennett.

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Waikato Expressway progress report

Longswamp and Rangiriri open days
The combined open day for the
Longswamp and Rangiriri sections of
the  Waikato Expressway attracted
plenty of interest

The NZ Transport Agency reports that progress continues apace for the remaining five sections of the Waikato Expressway.

Recent activities on two sections included a well-attended community information day the Longswamp and Rangiriri sections (January 29); and a targeted information and discussion day for the design of Pickering Road, which lies within the Cambridge section.

The NZ Transport Agency is also lodging a Notice of Requirement (NoR) to alter the designation for the Hamilton section of the Waikato Expressway. The move will allow for an interchange at Ruakura to link the Hamilton section of the Expressway with the proposed Ruakura development. The development is subject to an Environmental Protection Authority Board of Inquiry decision when the Board meets later in the year. Read more in the media release here:

Current progress on the Waikato Expressway includes:

  • 2 sections completed – Te Rapa, Ngaruawahia
  • 2 sections under construction – Rangiriri, Cambridge
  • 2 sections in investigation and preliminary design – Huntly, Hamilton
  • 1 section in secondary investigation – Longswamp

The seven sections of the Expressway form one of our ‘Roads of National Significance’. Together they will:

  • be completed by the end of 2019
  • cost $2.1 billion in total
  • cover 102km four-lane state highway
  • improve safety, productivity and reduce journey times
  • future proof roads, support growth and development
  • improve access between state highways and local roads.

For more information including updated monthly newsletters for each section, see www.nzta.govt.nz/waikatoexpressway or ‘like’ the Expressway on Facebook at www.facebook.com/waikatoexpressway.

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Southern Links

Click on image for PDF of map. 

On January 29 the receiving councils – Hamilton City, Waipa and Waikato districts for the roading network designations, and the Waikato Regional Council for the bridge consents – publicly notified the applications for the Southern Links network.

Submissions closed on 28 February and a hearing before independent commissioners is expected in the middle of the year.

The long-term aim of the Southern Links project is to develop an effective transport network of well-connected state highway and urban arterial routes linking State Highway 1 from Kahikatea Drive in Hamilton to the Waikato Expressway at Tamahere and State Highway 3 from Hamilton Airport to central and east Hamilton.

NZ Transport Agency State Highway Manager, Kaye Clark, says the benefits of this initiative would see better linkage and access across and in and out of Hamilton and surrounding districts for all motorists, which supports the Future Proof growth strategy by enabling more efficient movement of people and freight.

“Those benefits would include enabling economic growth, reducing travel times, improving road safety, reducing congestion and creating further opportunities for Waikato communities.”

However, Mrs Clark says it’s important to remember that the focus at this stage is on protecting the preferred network route by way of designation. “Any progression towards the construction stage is still outside the Transport Agency’s and the Hamilton City Council’s 10-year funding plans.”

Information about this project is available online at www.nzta.govt.nz/southern-links. How and where to make a submission and contacts for information are also on the website or people can email southern.links "at" aecom.com or phone 0508 STHNLINK (0508 7846 5465).

All documents relating to the notification are at: www.waipadc.govt.nz/HamiltonSouthernLinks.

Read the media release here.

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