While debate rages on about allowing more housing within the existing urban area, the other side of the development coin is also being progressed with the council planning for over two Hamilton’s to added to our urban fringes in the North, Northwest and South. This is shown in the video below with both already approved special housing areas and the other future urban areas highlighted. All up AT say 110,000 dwellings and 50,000 jobs will be accommodated for in these new greenfield areas which is about one quarter of the growth expected in the region.
Providing all of the infrastructure needed to support these developments isn’t something that can be done quickly or cheaply. One of the key pieces of infrastructure to get right early will be transport so we’re not adding to the areas that we have to go back and retrofit at even greater expense decades later.
As such the Council, Auckland Transport and the NZTA want to start planning for what transport these future urban areas will need and over the next month the Council, Auckland Transport and the NZTA will be conducting consultation about it. They say they want a range of views and not just those who live in these areas now – after all with over 100,000 dwellings most people living in them will be moving into the area. Each of the three main areas will have two weeks of consultation during that time, the dates for each of them are below.
- Southern Auckland consultation – 18 February to 3 March
- Warkworth and Silverdale/Dairy Flat consultation – 25 February to 10 March
- Northwest Auckland consultation – 3 to 17 March.
The consultation is at a high level looking at just the big pieces of transport infrastructure that might be needed to enable these developments to proceed. The consultation starts today and will be followed by a more detailed consultation on costs, routes and options in April. This work will also be feed in to the Auckland Transport Alignment Process currently under way between Auckland and the government. Until the exact options are sorted out we won’t know how much it will cost however it was suggested that just the major projects needed could reach $10 billion and that doesn’t include all of the smaller local and arterial roads that would be needed. If that figure turns out to be correct it would equate to around $91k per dwelling and that’s before all of the other road costs and the costs of other infrastructure (e.g. water, schools etc.).
The information below is just for the South Auckland consultation. The details for the other two will be released when those consultations start.
The map below is a bit more detailed version of the greenfield growth that is planned for South Auckland along with some of the key projects already underway. These new areas are predicted to have about 50,000 new dwellings, 120,000 people and 13,000 new jobs.
They say the key transport issues are:
- It is predicted that 80% of morning work trip destinations will be no further north than Manukau and the Airport
- The scale of growth will mean there is a need for stronger north-south connections
- Lack of east-west connections in the Takanini and Drury areas.
I personally think the suggestion that 80% will travel no further north than Manukau for work very wishful thinking.
Next is a list of potential projects over the whole area. The rail line is obviously already in place which is good but does need electrifying. For major roads, if you combine some of the suggestions there would be an extension of Mill Rd through to Drury and then potentially via a new State Highway all the way to Pukekohe, that’s essentially a parallel motorway or near motorway all the way to Manukau.
Looking a little closer at a few main areas.
They list the key issues as
- Safety of rail crossings
- Connectivity to rail and State Highway 1
- Providing north-south and east-west connections
- Issues with ground stability a challenge to providing integrated transport and storm water solutions.
Some of the key options suggested are
- Extend Mill Rd south to Drury
- Upgrade the three routes to provide east-west connections along with grade separating them with the rail network. One of these, Rangi Rd, they suggest tying in with Mahia Rd on to the West of the motorway.
- A new rail station at Tironui – There had been suggestions in the past of a new station at Walters Rd next to a commercial development – potentially as a replacement for Takanini but AT decided back in 2014 that the preferred option was one at Tironui
Drury & Opaheke
Moving south to Drury and Opaheke the issues listed are all about providing alternative routes and not stuffing up traffic travelling to/from the Waikato.
The key options suggested are:
- Should there be one or more new North-South corridors.
- Which of the two locations shown on the map would be best for a new train station serving these areas
- Should the focus be on upgrading SH22 or a new state highway linked in with Mill Rd and SH22 becoming effectively a local road.
- Should the widening of SH1 be carried on past Papakura to Drury. They ask “What is most important for these improvements? Focus on travel times, reliability, safety, access or other?”
Pukekohe and Paerata
Lastly Pukekohe and Paerata where they say the key issues are:
- Providing strong connections to Waikato
- Managing increasing pressure on State Highway 22
- Increasing capacity and efficiency of the passenger rail network
- Improving access to this area without making long distance travel between Auckland and Waikato worse.
The key options suggested are:
- How important is a station at Paerata
- Does Pukekohe need an east-west bypass and an upgrade to the connection to SH1
- Where should east-west grade separated crossings of the rail line at Paerata be.
- As with above should the focus be on SH22 or a new SH corridor
- Should rail or bus services be extended further past Pukekohe
The growth areas of the South have a big advantage over those in the North and North west in that while it needs upgrading, the rail line already exists. With the amount of development planned and the number of services that would be needed I’m guessing it will be likely that we’ll need at least a third main though the area if not more and we’ll definitely need those done north of Papakura. That would allow more capacity for freight and at times faster services to Britomart (once the CRL frees up space on the network).
On the road side of things upgrades to SH22 and Pukekohe East Rd seem like they would be the most appropriate rather than building what would probably end being a new motorway from Drury to Pukekohe.
Submissions on these future transport options should now be open.
To me one of the things this process is highlighting is that for once we might get a true grasp on the cost of greenfield development. Given how expensive it is appearing to be I suspect that it could have long term planning implications for Auckland and other cities. I think it also raises a lot of equity and timing issues. The same level of investment needed to support these new greenfield areas would also likely go a very long way to addressing transport issues within the existing urban area. That would not only benefit new dwellings enabled by those improvements (if they’re allowed) but would also benefit existing residents who would have better/more options.
What do you think should be the priorities for transport in these new greenfield areas South Auckland.