One of the papers that went to the Auckland Transport board yesterday was an update on what is happening in the North West with the large greenfield developments of Westgate, Hobsonville and Hobsonville Point that were initially planned by the former Waitakare City Council. The summary shows that ratepayers are having to invest over $100 million just on transport infrastructure to support these developments and that won’t include any on-going operational costs or the costs of other social infrastructure like schools or the library going in the new Westgate town centre. Of that 77% of the money is for new roads in and around the Westgate development.
The North West Transformation is a Council project aimed at facilitating growth in Auckland’s northwest. Council’s strategy for achieving the required growth was to establish a number of partnership agreements with various developers.
In the case of roads and public transport infrastructure, Council’s budget and delivery responsibilities have been assigned to Auckland Transport. Under this arrangement Auckland Transport is required to invest $110m between 2012 and 2022 to provide new roads, upgrade existing and expand public transport infrastructure to accommodate the planned growth. Auckland Transport invested $17m last year and has programmed $12m for this year.
All up the plans are meant to create 20,000 new jobs and 5,500 new dwellings across the three areas which are shown below.
I’m just going to look at the Westgate development which is where huge amounts of ratepayer money is going to build new roads and community facilities as part of a town centre. This one of the reasons why the council has earmarked the area as a metropolitan centre in the Auckland Plan. I think the old WCC actually did a decent job of trying to make a proper town centre by imposing requirements like that buildings must open out onto the street with any parking located behind the buildings in a bid to create a more traditional mainstreet. This is quite different to what exists in places like the existing Westgate town centre, Albany, Botany or other new car centric developments. The still it has the large big box stuff but at least it was required to be further away.
However I get the feeling that the wheels might already starting to be coming off. As you can see in the image below both Pak’n Save and Bunnings appear to be setting up shop outside of the planned development area and as they appear to be going in quicker, my fear is they will start to draw focus away and other development away from the town centre.
The list of key developers in the paper suggests why as there are a number of land owners all with competing interests.
- New Zealand Retail and Property Group (NZRPG) – owners and managers of the existing Westgate centre and one of the primary developers for the new town centre.
- DNZ – has recently acquired part of NZRPG’s interest in the development and will now be building the new shopping mall that is a key element of the new town centre.
- Midgley Family – own a significant part of the Precinct C land and will be selling/developing the land they own in that precinct. They have already sold part of their land interest to the National Trading Company (NTC) who will be building a Pak and Save supermarket on the site.
- Garelja Family – own a significant area of land that is zoned as Employment Special Area and intend to develop the land in conjunction with NZRPG.
Will ever see the centre as envisioned in this video?
And lastly in all of this there is very little mention about actually integrating PT infrastructure. There was originally planned to be a bus station in the middle of the town centre but AT finally realised it was a stupid idea to put it on a shared space town square but since then there has been no information about it.