At the beginning of March the commissioners hearing the notice of requirement (NOR) to enable the route to be designated recommended the NOR be approved. A few weeks later Auckland Transport accepted all of the associated recommendations meaning that for the first time a rail route through the CBD had been designated despite such an idea having been talked about at numerous times over the previous 90 or so years.

Grimshaw Aotea Station - changed version

While the route is now designated it was never going to be the end of the matter as there was still the option for people/companies unhappy with the outcome to appeal to the Environment Court. Any appeals had to be received by the 19 May and five have been received. The one I most expected to appeal was Mediaworks as they seemed to make the most noise during the NOR process on the basis of concern from both the construction and operation of the tunnels which will be in very close proximity to their studios. In addition to Mediaworks appeals have also been lodged from:

  • Samson Corporation Ltd and Sterling Nominees Ltd
  • Tram Lease Ltd and CJM Investments Ltd
  • Precinct Properties Ltd
  • Stamford Plaza

Each one is slightly different but from my quick reading here’s an overview of the issues raised in each appeal.


Mediaworks are extremely concerned about the issue of noise and vibration that might result from the construction and operation of the CRL which they say could impact on their business. To address these problems they want lower sound and vibration limits imposed along with constant monitoring rather than 6 monthly as currently consented for. In terms of operation noise/vibration they effectively want to be able to shut down the CRL if the limit is breached.

In addition to the noise and vibration issues Mediaworks also appear to be concerned about the traffic on nearby New North Rd and that the NOR allows Auckland Transport to temporarily narrow access to their carpark to a single lane.

I suspect that of all the appeals that this is the one that will have the most time spent on it.

Samson Corporation Ltd and Sterling Nominees Ltd

These two companies – which are both owned by the same person – have two main concerns. The first is with the designation lapse period which has been set at 15 years whereas the statutory default period is only 5 years. They argue that a 10 year lapse period would be better, especially as AT say they want to build the project within that time frame. They suggest that leaving it at the longer period “invites unnecessary uncertainty and planning blight”. Their second issue is that they want compensation to their businesses for the disruption for any lost custom.

Tram Lease Ltd and CJM Investments Ltd

Like the companies above, Tram Lease Ltd are also concerned about the “Planing Blight” that might occur from having such a long time frame. Their main concern however appears to regarding parking and access to their land at 32 Normanby Rd both during and post construction. This is because Normanby Rd will be grade separated as part of the CRL project which is likely to impact how they can access their site and how much parking it has. They want the requirements amended so AT have to reinstate all the parking that currently exists along with full access to the site. CMJ Investments Ltd is one of the tenants on the site and are supporting the appeal.

CRL - Tram Lease site

Precinct Properties Ltd

Precinct say that AT included a number of the conditions they originally sought in the final decision but not all of them and that is why they are appealing. They don’t want the Downtown Shopping Centre site, lower Queen St, QEII Square and/or Lower Albert St used as building site. They say they generally support AT’s construction noise criteria but are concerned about excessive noise and vibration from construction. They also say they support AT’s rail criteria but want tighter vibration limits and a requirement that AT investigate and remedy any exceedance of this.

Stamford Plaza

Stamford Plaza were one of the submitters who fought the designation the most. They say they are they are concerned about the impact from construction of noise, vibration, hours of operation as well as pedestrian and vehicle access to their site. They say their guests “require standard of overall amenity and quiet enjoyment during both daytime and night-time hours. They want stricter noise/vibration limits and more monitoring to occur, reduced hours of construction but also a limit on how long construction can take place outside their site. I’m not sure how you could reduce noise/vibration, reduce the hours of operation yet still get the project completed faster.

In addition they also want 18 months advanced notice of construction starting as they say they have to give advanced notice to their some of their guests and they want compensation for lost business.

I’m no expert but all up it seems like that with the exception of Mediaworks most of this is simply posturing for a better deal. I’m not sure when the case will be heard in the environment court but hopefully it would be this year some time so as not to hold up the project should funding be found.

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  1. Personally I think the CRL is a waste of ratepayers money. However if we are going to do it lets get on with it. Amend the RMA which can be done with Labour’s support and get the thing finished in 5 years or preferably less.

    1. Its less waste than roads, the only reason roads are congested is because everyone has this stupid mindset that everything must be 8am-4pm, 9pm-5pm or 9pm-3pm(schools). If we simply spaced things out more there wouldn’t even be any congestion on the roads for years, but businesses and schools are so stuck in their ways. Fortunately for me I work 2:30pm-11:00pm and completely avoid this stupidity.

    2. Dennis, you have a point about the benefits of the CRL when you consider that the current suburban network has track faults that have existed for months/years that are not fixed and at times substantially reduce the speed of trains and increase trip times, There has been ample opportunities to fix them with network closures but nothing happens. Surely we should get what we have running at optimum performance and doing so consistently before anything else!

      1. It’s certainly very, very poor form. First response should be to contact the sender and let them know they’ve sent that list to everyone. It may have been an accident.

        1. I’ve been getting stacks of letters from lawyers too. Three A4-size envelopes yesterday alone from the same law firm, the cost must be horrendous. I noticed a reply by email or by post option on a recent AT submission form, it would have been good to have that for the CRL submission too. And I agree about the privacy issues – I don’t remember anything about my details going to appellants…
          As with many things, AT Must Do Better!

      2. Its not a breach of privacy if you made a submission on an open public process. A mailing/ contact address was released to the entire public as part of the submission process. It is a legal requirement under the RMA, nothing to do with any errors by AT.

        There is also a legal requirement for those who appeal to serve notice of that appeal on all individuals/ groups who made submissions. This ensures that they can remain informed of the process and any potential effects that those appeals may have on their submissions. If there are any significant impacts you can then become a party to proceedings in the environment court under s274 of the RMA. This would enable you to participate fully with the process going forward if you so choose.

  2. Considering the size and scope of the project it’s surprising how few appeals there are and how minor they seem to be. I think it’s a big vote of confidence in the project.

  3. Interesting new render there, showing our EMUs as opposed to those tram-looking things of the previous one. Not a fan of the white outlines of the people though, the last one was much more slick.

  4. Personally don’t believe “undergound” is the way to go for CBD because of the AKL geography. Not sure why other through routes have not been debated such as undergound to Victoria Park at which point rail can continue underground to north shore or turn left to piggy back on motorway infrastructure through to newton. Would be a lot cheaper. I don’t think people are going to use local cbd stops if 6 floors below ground as proposed. No other cities have stations that deep.

    1. Taking the CRL all the way out to Victoria Park would shrink its stations’ catchment hugely. It would no longer serve the universities, or Aoeta. It would be a residential service link of no use to the CBD’s densest areas of employment. It would also mean having to bulldoze through hundreds of houses to turn it into a link since the motorway goes nowhere near the Western Line.

      Similar suggestions have been discussed in here several times, and dismissed as the pointless exercises that they truly are; no university catchment, no service to Aotea, and surface rail is a visual blight that has no place being constructed through high-value real estate.

        1. There is no way that could be cut and covered from Mayoral to Symonds, the road is far too steep and narrow.

        2. Antholon, you do realise that the cut and cover section costs significantly more per metre than the bored tunnel right? If they had the choice they would bore the whole lot.

          You’re scheme would cost more to build the tunnel because it has a lot more cut and cover. The only bit that might save money is how you’ve dropped one new station off the network, so obviously there is a saving in only building two stations.

        1. It’s a lot closer to AUT, and more southern parts of the campus like Architecture, Physics, etc, exactly the parts further from the coming Parnell station.
          So between Newmarket, Grafton, Parnell, and Aotea, students using rail will have plenty of options for their various campus destinations. All involving some walking, if that amount of walking is too much for you you can always get a taxi…..?

        2. Actually by real walking paths, the closest entrance to Aotea will be about 350m closer to the centroid of the University of Auckland than the back entrance of Britomart. Two factors there, one is that the route from Britomart is either quite convoluted (via Emily Place) or a bit out of the way (via Anzac Ave). The other factor is that most of the university is clustered in the southern half of the campus area, away from Britomart.

          Another factor is the New Network has about half a dozen frequent bus routes running east west on Wellesley St, so from the stop in front of Aotea there will be about a bus every minute all day going directly to and from the university.

          And of coure AUT is far closer to Aotea than Britomart, basically on the doorstep.

        3. No; just no. Britomart is miles from uni, Parnell is actually the closest station in a straight line to the business school/arts where the most lectures are held, need to improve walking connections though.

          1. Completely agreed Patrick, didn’t mean to dismiss Aotea’s proximity at all. There are several ways that one could get to the uni’s on the train. Britomart will suit the law school, Aotea for all of AUT, engineering and science buildings at UoA and possibly library/quad, Parnell will suit the business school, Grafton the medical campus, and Newmarket/Grafton for the new campus.

            The university precinct will be absolutely surrounded by train stations and the station of choice will vary depending on your actual destination, the rail line you are coming in on, the actual train that you get on (shorter walk longer train/shorter train longer walk if late), the possibility of catching a bus from the station to the campus, and the weather. SOme students may well choose a different route every day of the week. For this reason it is critical to improve the pedestrian links. A link along Wellesley Street to Parnell and rehumanisation of the intersection of Mayoral and Wellesley, some good links at the new campus and particularly footpaths along CGR and KPR need some work, and streetscape improvements around the Parnell station and across the motorway to the Grafton Gully route.

    2. Yes Auckland’s geography i.e. a city built on ground is so different to all those other strange places with underground rail, oh wait they’re also just a city built on the ground too….

      Multiple other cities have deep subways, and in fact the CRL is only proposed to go down as deep as 42 metres, the St Pethersburg Metro runs to a depth of 86m, some of NY’s subways are at 55ms, some stations on Washington’s metro are 60m deep, in Paris there are stations at a depth of 36ms. In fact there’s nothing unique or unusual at all about what is proposed for the CRL. The only thing unique is how long it’s taken to actually build the thing and how much ideological opposition there is to it.

      And any suggestion that this was just a random route pulled out of thin air is just plain ridiculous, dozens of options including not even using rail but rather buses were considered and this alignment was chosen as the most effective for all sorts of reasons. Do some research as your ‘persona’ opinions at present are of someone with apparently no knowledge of what the CRL is and what its benefits are.

  5. Of course other cities have stations that deep. From personal experience I can tell you in Seoul Yeoeuinaru Station (Line 5) is 27.5 m below sea level (due to crossing below Han River) similarly Itaewon Station (Line 6) is also very deep due to crossing beneath other subway lines, FYI Itaewon is a vibrant shopping district with foot traffic counts Auckland retailers would kill for. Yeoeuinaru is a similarly busy riverside park and office precinct.

    1. Yeah, oedo line is really deep because it was built last and had to go under the other lines in the popular stops. It works pretty well. Most people catch elevators to the platforms, but during rush hour there can be a wait for the elevators.

      1. In the nicest possible way, I suspect Tony L is either trolling or lazy. A moment’s googling would have told him about deep-underground stations overseas, and about alternative routes etc. for the CRL that have been exhaustively examined (do not forget that this project has had much more analysis demanded of it by the Government and the NZTA than any motorway project).
        Perhaps a brief read of Transport Blog back posts about the CRL using order, Tony?

  6. Interesting that the Normamby Road level crossing is being grade separated. Is the Porters Avenue or any other crossings also being grade separated as part of the project?

    1. Yes I believe Porters Avenue is being grade separated, and I think Ngahura Street pedestrian crossing will also be replaced by a pedestrian bridge (presumably so people walking from New North Road can still use the Mt Eden Station platforms to access Mt Eden Road, even if Mt Eden Station isn’t being used anymore).

  7. All business people want Auckland to grow and flourish so that they can increase their business development. But up until now it has been Auckland business people who have stopped any growth in the infrastructure when their particular business is affected. I say you can’t have it both ways.
    And please, no more discussion about the route. Just get the bloody thing built as it has dragged on for far too long.

    1. The Stamford Plaza might as well close for renovation while they are digging outside, and will gain little from CRL, so it is easy to see their unhappiness. They should be compensated for the lost business.

      1. Rubbish. From what I understand 2 lanes will still be open so they will still have access to their front door. As for noise, welcome to the city. What would their reaction be if a building was going up next door? Adding the extra floors to the Stsmford must have led to inconvenience for guests? I presume the hotel didn’t close down then?

        1. Are there any other hotels on the route the CRL will take? If there are, then why haven’t they objected? There aren’t any other hotel objectors as far as I can tell…

          1. Crowne Plaza Hotel is right by where the station box for Aotea Station will be dug out, so they will probably face even more disruption than Stanford Plaza. Of course when the CRL is completed, Crowne Plaza will end up with what will probably be New Zealand’s busiest railway station practically on their doorstep, whereas Stamford Plaza is in the awkward spot halfway between Britomart and Aotea (even though the Stamford within a 400m walking catchment of either station, Mercure is next to Britomart and Crowne is next to Aotea).

    2. Years ago I stayed in an expensive/upmarket business hotel Singapore several times of a few years which had a major subway (MTR) station development/mall being built right next door, with all the noise and access problems Stanford plaza say they will have and then some – and this was.for a much longer period as well, and the hotel stayed open and usable the whole time.

      The biggest problem I recall was mainly the construction lights 24 by 7 more than the noises.

      Hotel was properly sound insulated and designed to start with which probably indicates the real problem here with the Stamford Plaza is lack of double glazing and general sound proofing within the hotel.

  8. BTW does anyone else see the cold dead hands of Steven Joyce (ex Mediaworks top brass) behind the Mediaworks objection?

    Given the benefits of the CRL being built for even a media company, there must be an underlying reason why their objection is so vociferous…

    1. Not particularly do I see that Mediaworks (aka TV3) “doth protest too much”.

      If it was TVNZ’s studios being tunnelled under they would probably object the same way too – can’t have TV cameras shaking or weird background noise during live TV like the news can you?

      The difference is that the Government can lean on TVNZ (as a state owned SOE) to “accede” like they did with Sky City Convention Centre and allow the project to proceed in whatever form it needs.
      They can’t do that to Mediaworks who own TV3, and this is Auckland Transport, not the Govt after all. Hence the appeals.

      1. BBC’s head office in White City London is surrounded by high speed heavy rail, elevated tube, sub surface tube, the very busy (congested in NZ terms) A40 in to Westminster and Loftus Road Stadium. They have no qualms with noise, vibration etc and I’m sure have many, many more recoding/filming studios that would be affected then any NZ media outfit.

        All I’m seeing is Mediaworks trying to score some easy money for their outdated,obsolete facilities.

        1. To be fair, the BBC moved in there knowing all those things existed, and therefore designed their studios with extra sound and vibration proofing from the outset no doubt.

          For Mediaworks, they were already there, yes they probably have out of date facilities (name a TV station the world that doesn’t have THAT problem these days).

          But the tunnelling will be right under their building as I recall, and not terribly far below them either so that they do have a potential impact.from CRL work.

          Whether thats actually a real issue or not, time will tell I guess. and no doubt something the Environment court will weigh up.

          But I think if TV3 hope that AT will buy their site out from them so that they can move their entire operation elsewhere, thats a different story.

  9. I think those objectors seeking compensation for lost business should get it – but after the CRL opens, if their income then goes above the same baseline that was used to calculate their compensation, they need to pay that compensation back, in proportion of their extra income up to 110% of the compensation they were originally paid. I’ll be nice, after that 110% they can keep the rest of their extra profits.

  10. What about the Planning blight caused by the original CMJ designations back in the early 60’s – that took some 20 years to be built in some cases (Southern to NW links being a good example).
    But severance started almost immediately. Did those adjoining landowners get much beyond the immediate land loss compensation?

    CRL is gonna happen, there are winner and losers as a result – before, during and after construction, just like motorways.

    These guys (Tram Lease etc) say they are “losers” because their site is by the railway line, which was there when they bought. and they knew the railway and Normanby Road crossing could be developed further at any time and now they want compensation when it actually is because their parking is impacted on a mostly “big box” retail site which probably pays f**k all in rates?

    Would they also be “complaining” if they owned properties near Newton Station and could obtain massive windfall profits on these sites due to the CRL station being next door?
    Would they feel so aggrieved at the perceived lack of natural justice that occurred there, that they’d willing give part of their free windfall back to AT as a “we didn’t really expect this – so here you are”?

    No of course not., they’d see that as “shrewd investment decisions” or “business as usual” and keep all the value uplift and pat themselves.on the back for a job well done.

    So guys, you can’t have it both ways.

    If Tram Lease as owners of 32 Normanby Road want compensation, then AT can pay them out the value of the carparks they say they’ll lose at “carpark” land prices and be done with it.
    And that compensation should come from the winners – those for whom the councils valuation uplift on all the properties near the CRL stations are also impacted for the better.

    Ideally CRL should be a zero sum (at worst) outcome – the property losers are compensated by council using the value improvement from the winners.

    As for Precinct – they are showing their true colours now – they don’t give a shit about CRL, except as a generators of profits via hordes of pedestrian traffic through their malls.

    Anyone who thinks their offer to buy out QE square will give Aucklanders a guaranteed improvement to that part of town is fooling themselves.
    Precinct is building the 21st century version of downtown mall, in time it will be seen as being as tacky and inward looking as the existing mall it seeks to replace.

  11. Agree that there is too much whinging going on here. If all AT has to compensate Tram Lease for the value of carparks then that amount would barely register as part of the overall project cost.

    Re Precinct – of course they want to build a mall that suits their goals. But remember that it is critical for the CRL budget that they have cooperated with AT’s plan to put tunnels under their mall, so let’s not lose sight of the big money-saving benefit here. In terms of an inward-looking mall… it is now the Council’s job (as I understand it not AT’s) to stop that happening and get the ideal outcome for the city 🙂

    1. Well put. A bit of compensation to affected businesses is nothing compared to the total cost.

      Precinct is a property trust, not a charitable trust, so is required to maximize the value of its investments by its shareholders. If Council staff do their job well, the result should be a win-win for both shareholders and public. If Precinct are not happy, they can just do nothing, and you can forget CRL for the next 10 years.

    2. Glen, agreed $ for Tram Lease carparks will be chickfeed in the scheme of things, I expect their legal costs in seeking compensation will probably outweigh the compensation they get.
      Making it a possible Pyrrhic victory for them in the long run.

      As for Precinct, they can play hardball, but AC have the Public works Act which means that can acquire the CRL right of way from Precinct, build the CRL tunnels then offer it back to Precinct once done (and if Precinct don’t want, sell it to anyone else), which will impact Precincts timeframes if nothing else if Precinct allow that to happen.

      Neil, Precinct don’t have all the Aces up their sleeve as you imply. Doing so will force AT to spend more $ buying the land where the CRL tunnels sit under (in effect the Downtown site), but thats money they’ll get back down the track anyway so its only the holding costs for that land that are relevant. And if it means CRL can start on time, so be it.

      Time will tell how good a job Precinct will do with their mall, but AC can’t stop them doing a Downtowm Mall “The Sequel” if Precinct so chooses. And if its how Precinct thinks it can make pots of money, they will do it.

      Precincts moaning about buses and noise, pollution and other things is only them seeking for AT/AC to rollover and let them make their mall become the crossroads for all CRL users to have to pass through on the way to anywhere.

      Auckland Councils don’t have a good track record of standing up to developers of any ilk, let alone big ones, from overseas, with flash lawyers,, despite Ludo whats his name – AC’s “design champion” – who should be taking a firm stance on all development in this area given how close to the waterfront it is, title pretending otherwise.

      He is on record as saying Council in general (and him in particular) are not the “Design Police” for Auckland – which means if they’re not doing that job, then who is? – no one is the real answer. And is that acceptable in the 21st century to have such a hands off policy with how the city looks and functions for such a key location and infrastructure?

      But back to Precinct, if AC/AT are not careful, you’ll get a CRL to be proud of allright, in the 2020’s, but above ground around the CRL stations? “Forgeddaboutit” is all you’ll say.

      1. A good lawyer can hold up Public Works Act heaps, and Auckland Council is not flush with cash to buy unbudgeted properties. I am concerned that Precinct do not own, and have not build any malls before, so have no track record, good or bad. Their management is now NZ based after they bought out the Australian property management contract about a year ago.

          1. The closest thing I can imagine that exists and is somewhat like the Precinct proposal is the Orakei Point Development – except on a smaller footprint, with the main tower being 36 stories tall. (I may not have a very vivid imagination on this one, so bear with me).

            But all the rest – major rail network under its feet, fantastic location, truly iconic potential etc, yep very similar.

        1. The original plan/estimates for CRL included a need for buying the Downtown site completely, so that money has already been allowed for.
          Precinct buying the centre last year changed that requirement to buy the site as they said they’d co-operate with council on the CRL NOR.
          The CRL costings have not yet been revised to factor that in so the money is there and budgeted for.

          As for PWA hold ups, they’ll have a problem arguing against the PWA since they supported the CRL NOR from the get go (subject to some conditions – mostly met by AT), so to turn around and say we don’t want to sell won’t be seen in too good a light by the legal system. The only argument is the finer details of Precincts wishlist of gimmes.

          I’d also suggest that if Precinct hold up any PWA process council undertakes any chance they have of getting QE2 Square go out the window as well.
          Remember council has approved in principle only the sell policy, not actually sold it yet. And that agreement can change for all sorts of reasons.

          Lets hope wiser heads prevail on this, but Precinct have to give as much as get. And right now it seems they are doing all the getting…

  12. The schedule below is from 2 July 2013.
    I guess it requires funding to be sorted out by June 2015, or possibly as late as January 2016.
    I wonder how the preliminary design is going and what the chances are of sticking to this schedule?
    May 2021 seems a long way away.

    33. The current program timing is as follows;
     Phase 1 – Concept Design March 2012 – August 2012
     Phase 2 – Preliminary Design October 2013 – July 2014
     Tender period August 2014 – June 2015
     Phase 3 – Detailed Design November 2015 – April 2017
     Phase 4 – Construction January 2016 – April 2021
     Phase 5 – Operational May 2021
    34. The timeframe between now and 2021 is relatively tight. As such there will be overlap between the phases, where some phases may take longer due to statutory processes.

    1. TBMs take time to specify, put out for tender, accept a tender, place the order and then take delivery of (3 years I think was bandied about for the timeframe for this for the Waterview one which is a bigger TBM than the CRL will be), you’d need to order your TBM pretty early in the piece to have a hope of meeting the timeframe of 2021 for completion. As once the TBM is here, you’ve got some serious periods of tunnelling to do for each bore, plus the need to disassemble and relocate the TBM between tunnels for the second tunnel (then the final disassembly once the second bore is done), so won’t get much change out of 5 years for all that lot from time of putting TBM tender out to end of construction of tunnels.

      Can’t really do any of that without the statutory processes being completed as until then the Environment court could order changes to the CRL route or impose conditions which make the TBM order premature until then.

      1. I doubt it would be three years for the TBM from the start of the tender process, at least not for a CRL sized TBM which would be a fairly common size unlike the monster they have at Waterview.

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