A few months ago we saw the latest round of consultations for the transport networks in the planned huge new greenfield growth areas in the Northwest and Warkworth by the Supporting Growth team. These new sprawl areas, along with others planned in the South and around Dairy Flat, are eventually planned to be home to hundreds of thousands of new residents.

Whether we should still be planning these new growth areas is another question entirely, especially with upcoming changes to the Unitary Plan to make it easier to build in many parts of the existing urban area, but not enough of the areas closest to town on some of the best public transport routes.

Interestingly, while we have concerns on the solution chosen, we have been impressed that the light rail team have included helping to avoid a lot of this sprawl as a key outcome for the project and they said it well in a recent sponsored article.

As Auckland continues to grow, it’s vital that “liveability” isn’t damaged in our planning approach, according to Tommy Parker, Project Director, Auckland Light Rail Group. Auckland can extend further out to the fringes, depleting rural land and disconnecting a vast sprawling Auckland – or it can better utilise existing neighbourhoods to improve infrastructure and create better urban outcomes for Aucklanders to live, work and raise families.

Back to Supporting Growth, now they’re back with a new consultation, this time for North Auckland, which encompasses Dairy Flay, Silverdale, Wainui and Orewa. They say the area is expected to become home to 110,000 new residents in around 41,000 new homes and there are also expected to be around 22,000 new jobs in the area.

A 16km rapid transit corridor from Albany to Milldale via Dairy Flat could provide the backbone of North Auckland transport’s network delivering frequent and high quality public transport.

This is one proposal amongst a suite of long-term transport projects to support population growth of 110,000 more people expected to be living in Dairy Flat, Silverdale West and Wainui by 2050. The region is already growing rapidly with residential and commercial developments.

Around 25km of new walking and cycling paths, improvements to State Highway 1, and new and upgraded roads have also been proposed; forming an integrated network to help people to move around whether it be by foot, bike, public transport or driving.

These long-term projects are part of the Te Tupu Ngātahi Supporting Growth programme, a collaboration between Auckland Transport and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency to develop transport networks for future communities in Auckland’s urban growth areas over the next 30 years.

Waka Kotahi Director Regional Relationships Te Tai Tokerau me Tāmaki Makaurau, Steve Mutton says the majority of the proposed projects are yet to be funded but need to be planned for now.

“In our planning we need to take a long term view by identifying and protecting future transport corridors long before construction. The projects can then be considered as part of the rezoning and release of land by Auckland Council over the next 10-30 years.”

“This approach provides certainty for landowners and the community, by providing a clear vision of how people can move around easily, safely and sustainably in our future communities and town centres.”

The map below shows the key planned investments in the area. Perhaps the most notable is the brown line, which is the proposed 16km rapid transit line that will travel through the new housing areas. The main downside to this route is that for trips from Silverdale it will add about 3km to the journey compared to going via SH1 like buses do now. That combined with lower average speeds due to things like having more stations means about an additional 7-15 minutes travel time. To get the lower end of these impacts it will be important for the design to allow for higher average speeds though measures such as having comprehensive priority and/or large amounts of separation.

There will be other issues too, such as how do people on buses coming from the Whangaparaoa Peninsula via Penlink access the route. Do they travel to a station in Dairy Flat or onwards down to Albany. I also wonder if the route could be a bit more streamlined which could potentially knock another kilometre off it.

For those interested, consultation on this is open till 19-August and there are a few open days planned.

“We are inviting community feedback from 11 July to 19 August to make sure we are on the right track for the North Auckland proposals.”

The team are holding a community drop in session on Saturday 13 August, 11am – 1pm at the Dairy Flat Hall so if you’d like to know more, please come along.

Mr Lambert says following community consultation, further environmental and technical investigations are required to complete the detailed business case which will be submitted to the boards of Auckland Transport and Waka Kotahi in 2023.

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  1. What happens to that brainless park and ride station they built as far from the Silverdale Centre as they could?

    1. Can’t have sunk cost be abandoned miffy. The clear solution is to expand it into a multi level parking structure, then widen the roads and lengthen the phases to make it harder to get there by foot or bike, sorry, easier to get there by car. Then add an interchange and widen the motorway because “people just like to use their cars out here”.

      Tangentially, where in the world is the walk / bike connection to HC station from Milldale? The motorway builders neglected to build footpath for half the interchange. And this is relatively new infra, 1999. And even worse, was recently worked on to add a slip lane to the western roundabout.

      1. I am all for knocking it over and using the land for something productive. Shame they ever wasted our money on it.

  2. So let’s add a Dunedin worth people to the quarter of Auckland that has the most complicated, disconnected, fragile and least scalable transport. Do so by tacking on a single bus lane to a system that is already towards capacity, which will actually make transport outcomes worse for current residents of the area. And they put this out for consultation while the “second” harbour crossing is being looked into? What a silly process.

    1. Nah, fill the busway up. Building more useful stations in the north will be good for off peak, or counter peak use too. The busway stations are mostly stranded stations best for commuting. Putting more pressure on the PT in the area will justify more building, the motorway pushers figured this out decades ago. Look at rail and CRL, fill it up, then build more, which compounds because now there is more network coverage.

      Something away from the highway, cutting through the middle of industrial and residential areas is ideal.

      There is plenty of opportunity to scale that corridor. Cut-n-cover customs street busway underneath.

      1. The scale here is off way off. The North Shores population is about 200k, this project is set to add 110k people to the Shore. This cities worth of people are going desperately need travel often. The bus way just not going to cope and the roads the are building all lead to the same place. This setting it’s self up to fail.

        Start building a train line to Silverdale and it’s a different situation.

        1. Yes a train line should be the first step. Of course AT don’t see that they have any responsibility to reduce emissions and so they do whatever they think of last (and hence a superfluous park and ride) and vehicle emissions will grow with ever increasing commuter traffic to Auckland.
          AT- climate criminals

  3. Watching the video they say that they’re going to widen SH1, with those extra lanes being bus lanes, until the brown line is built, then they become general traffic.

    Firstly, seems like a way to get public transport money to be spent as road widening highway money. But on the upside, it is good that there is some medium term solution proposed.

    But on the whole, this is at least better planning and forward thinking than what most of Auckland’s sprawl has been like. The transit corridor goes through the heart of the housing and industrial areas. What we would give to have such corridors in existing sprawl.

    1. Using public transport funds to build more road lanes has been a thing for a few years now. Is exactly what’s happened with SH20B widening and less directly to the northern busway extension.

      1. Yep, but simultaneously there just isn’t enough PT money to finish of the Rosedale station in a timely fashion.

  4. They are only supporting growth for some people. Developers, builders, car sales people.
    People living in those areas will be mainly the working class and spending too much time and money commuting.
    The sprawl of little boxes as far as the eye can see from Pokeno to Orewa is awful.
    There are too many people who oppose multi storey apartments.
    Living close to the city and amenities is better for family life, businesses and the environment.

    1. No you have fallen for corporate spin in the name ‘Supporting’. The reality is they dream up as many big ticket items and gold-plated projects as they can and use this process to try and clip the ticket and make houses cost more than they ever needed to. They are not supporting anything other than their own careers.

  5. So is the brown Road already a road in which case its only being upgraded or is it going to be a total new build. I am also wondering what the depths of the housing will be on either side of it. Next I assume there will be many more stops than if there was a busway onside the motorway and passengers were forced to transfer at busway stations. So a long skinny suburb with easy walking to a main road with buses passing through every 10 minutes sounds pretty good to me. However it would be slower for passangers living futhur out than Silverdale.

    1. At 100k people, It is not a suburb, it’s city in Nz context. Except this one wont have a third the infrastructure or local jobs you would expect a city half the size to have, so people that will have travel a lot. That will be by car or the existing bus way, both which struggle to cope in normal times.

      This needs rail.

      1. Yes both Silverdale/Orewa and future Dairy Flat should function as proper cities by themselves. The distances alone completely rule out any plan that has them function as suburbs.

        There is a “Draft Spatial Land Use Strategy — Dairy Flat and Silverdale Future Urban Zones” floating around which indicates a large industrial area around the airport and a metro centre at Dairy Flat. So at least they’re thinking about jobs.

        If PT is supposed to actually work maybe a better place for a new metro centre is the spot where those future PT lines along SH1, Penlink and that brown line converge.

        1. You compare what they are suggesting here to Palmerston North 30k fewer people. This thing won’t have a council office, a University, any govt dependents, a hospital….

          People will need to move along a corridor to access the rest of Auckland. That corridor is already semi unusable due to traffic. Vastly more substantial PT need to be under construction, before this should open.

        2. Yes a new hospital in particular is desperately needed in the Silverdale area to provide services for the whole of Rodney (150k+). This would take pressure off both North Shore and Waitakere hospitals as well as provide better health outcomes for everyone (particularly emergency patients if they can shorten their journey by 20+ minutes and/or require less use of helicopters). Remember it’s also people in Warkworth etc that would benefit.
          A new High School is also needed (eventually 2 will be needed).

        3. If Orewa/Silverdale would be a separate city it would be about as large as Rotorua. It is a bit weird it doesn’t have a hospital.

        1. Orewa has one of the biggest coincil offices in Auckland by floor plate size and land around to expand it. It was once the Council office with a mayor and council operator Gingrich out of it and at that time was a city in its own right over the whole area. Auckland council sold it last year to move it to Albany and a new facility built by develooers to be leased.

        2. Even worse they sold it off for cents in the dollar rather than being patient and getting a good price for it.

      2. It doesn’t need to be standalone single housing each on there own section. We can have density build 15 story apartment blocks with commercial on the bottom floors. It doesn’t have to copy Pokeno. And build them along this brown road it will be much easier to provide three waters,power and public transport.

  6. I’d rather the city sprawled to the north on less productive lands than those in the vicinity of Pukekohe.
    However, what happened to the policy of up not out? I don’t see plans being made for 30-50 story apartments in the vicinity of railway stations, etc.
    Actually, I don’t see much planning that I like on many things the council/govt touch. Perhaps my time living in Singapore tainted my expectations.

    1. Most of the councils occupation lately has been trying to decrease the amount of housing able to be built near stations we’re spending billions on getting better service to.

    1. Up around existing train stations – yes.

      Up around existing suburbs on decent frequent bus services – yes.

      Oh, but those have character … please go build density elsewhere.

      1. Around stations? Are you crazy? Auckland Transport prefers stations built in the middle of vast open areas as far as possible from any activities. I am reasonably sure they draw maps with walk lines to ensure their stations are optimised to be the longest walk they can achieve.

  7. For the rapid transit: at this scale you can have both a fast service (like intercity trains in Europe) to Orewa/Silverdale (presumably on SH1— so keep the bus lanes), and an “all stops service” that stops at all the stations on the brown line.

  8. This is crazy. We can’t keep sprawling out – this will add more emissions, traffics, pollutions and so and so.

    We need to contain within the city boundary and build it upward like Manhattan.

    1. Agreed Ian, we have to stop sprawl, we have to build up, we have to upgrade existing infrastructure rather than the massive spend on ever more infrastructre in green fields.

    1. CHILD: Father, why don’t more suburbs of our city have walkable access to a mass-transit system?
      FATHER: (looks away in shame)
      CHILD: Why won’t you look at me, father? Why won’t you tell me how to expand the catchment area of our most under-served regions and improve mixed modality for those yearning to be free?
      FATHER: (breaks down sobbing) IT’S TRUE! IT’S ALL TRUE! I’M A… MONSTER!

  9. I get planning, but l don’t get,repeating failed planning. NZ is into talking control of its population growth,its all about immigration, so presuming past growth as a look at the future,looks flawed.
    Build it and they will come,will ensure, this area is popular,but at a huge social cost,(Paremoremo with a bigger fence).
    The inner suburbs around me,Onehunga, Oranga,One Tree Hill, Mangere are doing some serious heavy lifting,re housing at present ,with restraint on spending,surely development has to be around rail corridors.not roads.

  10. This is exactly why the Mangere Light Rail project is the most important project in NZ right now (regardless of whether it is tunnelled or above ground).
    Almost all of Auckland’s transport infrastructure spending is to support sprawl. The attitude seems to be that people who choose to live centrally don’t need transport spending as they can just catch a bus or drive on an arterial.
    The best thing Auckland could do is encourage people to live centrally by providing really good world class infrastructure to them, not just buses. And of course planning needs to also encourage people to live centrally, but that is another issue.

  11. My partner and I had lunch at fields cafe in Albany on the weekend,
    And after looking around the area I felt depressed, so much so I said to my partner that we should move to Australia, not just for better money or cheaper housing but it’s clear Auckland is only going to get worse.
    Albany is mostly still being developed and all I could see was big box shops and even the smaller commercial retail areas had large setbacks for car parking.
    The area as a whole is difficult to walk and felt empty.
    It’s clear we don’t know how to design and build infrastructure in NZ.

      1. Even our urban role model Hobsonville is just a load of houses. As soon as you need to buy anything commercial you hit the big box stores in your car. Stupid zoning laws more play as massove part in stopping organic commercial/hospo/retail areas from popping up where people want them.

  12. Unless you are going to the central city, taking a bus or train is rather outré for an adult in New Zealand.

    Few people in the outer suburbs, let alone the exurbs, use public transport. It’s unsurprising given our cities have been built for cars since 1945.

  13. why the light rail doesn’t join the Silverdale bus interchange?

    If they join that bus interchange can be redeveloped into a big town center/shopping mall

  14. If they cancelled Penlink, as they should do, preventing the development along it, and all other development onto farmland, wouldn’t there be more money to do some really good rapid transit and quality development of these existing built areas?

    Take that carpark that miffy is criticising … and all the many, many, other carparks … and convert them into the green parks and quality mixed use medium density developments with community facilities that would make fantastic places to live, centred on stations and on frequent bus routes to the stations. With frequent buses to the beaches, too…

    “Supporting Growth” in these outer areas is robbing our children of any chance of an affordable city. Where’s the leadership?

  15. We’ve ended up with the worst of both worlds. Didn’t want to house people in the existing urban areas, so we got the yellow highlighters out and made FUZ zones. Problem solved. Then we came to our senses and figured development in the brownfields areas was a good idea and decided to let that happen too. But now we have to pay for kms of transport infrastructure in the FUZ zones that we no longer need, at a time when we have no money to pay for it. Hurrah, geniuses. Don’t fall for their pretty pictures either – all supporting growth is doing is ‘protecting corridors’ at great expense to ratepayers (it’s a consultant gravy train). They won’t actually build anything.

  16. From memory, as part of that emission reduction targeted rate we will get the Albany bus frequency all the way to Silverdale? May have to wait until the sickness related bus driver shortage is over.

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