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.