Included as part of the release of the draft Unitary Plan is further information about options for where urban expansion might occur in the ‘greenfield areas of investigation’ that were highlighted by the Auckland Plan. There was some consultation on options in the south at the end of last year, but now it seems that some initial thinking has taken place over where urbanisation might happen in the northwest (Kumeu/Huapai/Whenuapai), Silverdale and Warkworth areas. There’s also some updated information on the south that I will get to in a future post.
Looking in this post at the northwest, a map has been produced which shows the current thinking about the new areas that are most likely to be suitable for urbanisation:From a transport perspective it’s pretty clear that there are three main corridors to be focusing our attention on:
- State Highway 16, which is likely to be the most attractive corridor for trips to the CBD, isthmus and probably areas further south
- State Highway 18, which is the main link to the North Shore
- The Western Railway Line, which probably offers the best route from this area to places like Henderson and New Lynn
In fairly recent times we’ve seen the Northwest Busway project advance into future plans (although it seems to be being completely ignored in Te Atatu interchange designs) while the Auckland Plan also talks about a busway connection between Westgate and the North Shore along the SH18 corridor. Finally, while electrification of the Western Line finishes at Swanson, development of the scale proposed here may make it viable in the future for electrification and double-tracking to be extended to the Kumeu/Huapai area, although that doesn’t seem to be in any of the plans at the moment.
Looking at how the urban form in this area might be best allocated to support an improved public transport system in Auckland, rather than just adding a whole pile of cars to the carpark called the Northwest Motorway throws up some interesting questions:
- Can something be done about the flooding issues which seem to have put off development around the railway line in areas like Taupaki?
- Should more development be concentrated between Kumeu and Westgate (around a busway potentially extended between the two) rather than spreading out to the southwest of Kumeu?
- Is there really any justification in trying to keep Kumeu/Huapai separate from the rest of Auckland – other than for ‘identity’ reasons?
- Could development be pushed a bit further south so that it fell within the catchment of Swanson train station?
I guess overall while there seems to be a little bit of logic in what the Council have come up with, it just comes across as looking like a pretty strangely-shaped and rather disconnected urban form. Hopefully there’s still plenty of scope for it to change.