Auckland is projected to grow by another 720,000 people to reach 2.4 million over the next 30 years – that means more land is required for homes, jobs and infrastructure, including transport.
In response to this demand, the Auckland Unitary Plan has identified 15,000 hectares of predominantly rural land for future urbanisation over the next 30 years (sometimes referred to as ‘greenfields’). This future urban growth land is further detailed in a sub-plan called the Future Urban Land Supply Strategy, an is equivalent to an area about 1.5 times the size of urban Hamilton, to be located in the following areas of greater Auckland:
Auckland Transport(external link), the NZ Transport Agency(external link) and Auckland Council(external link) identified a need to determine the most appropriate transport responses to support this projected growth. As a result, in 2015 they formed the Supporting Growth Programme – formerly known as the Transport for Future Urban Growth Programme - to investigate, plan and deliver the transport networks needed to connect these urban growth areas over the next 30 years.
Setting up a strategic transport programme plan
In 2015-16, Auckland Transport, the NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Council worked together to investigate and develop a high level preferred transport network plan to support all four growth areas, and formed the Supporting Growth Programme (formerly known as the Transport for Future Urban Growth Programme).
Workshops, meetings and events were held with Manawhenua, local boards, communities and a wide range of stakeholders to understand the issues, opportunities and community aspirations in each area. A summary of the results of this consultation is available here(external link).
The resulting Supporting Growth Preferred Transport Network Plans(external link) were then completed and published in late 2016, and substantiated the strategic need for both new and improved/upgraded road corridors, new and improved public transport corridors and a complete cycle network to support accessibility in the new future urban areas. These high-level maps showed a range of indicative transport connections required to support the growth in each area.
A staged approach
Since the release of these preferred network plans, several Supporting Growth priority projects have already progressed, and are moving through the business case and consenting phases. These include Matakana Link Road(external link) and Hill St Improvements(external link) near Warkworth, safety improvements to State Highway 16(external link) in the northwest, Dairy Flat Highway(external link) in the north and State Highway 22 (external link)in the south; and the State Highway 1 Papakura to Bombay(external link) project.
Other major projects have also been highlighted in 2018 by the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP – see more below) for priority development this decade, to help support the initial development of the future urban areas and ensure good connections develop between these areas and current urban or employment areas. These major projects also seek to provide the future growth areas with travel choices, so they grow in ways that are not highly dependent on private vehicles. These include the northwestern rapid transit corridor(external link), Mill Road corridor(external link), Penlink(external link) and SH1 North of Albany improvements (including bus shoulders).
The majority remaining share of projects within the preferred network plans are now being taken forward by a planning entity, known as an alliance, called Te Tupu Ngātahi.
Te Tupu Ngātahi will guide the transport investment, business case and route protection processes for these projects. Specifically, its role is to:
In total, the process above is expected to take five years, from 2018 to 2022.
Delivery of the projects (e.g. construction) will then be staged in line with ATAP’s direction and the planned release of the new growth area land by Auckland Council under the Unitary Plan, for example in 10, 20 or 30 years’ time. Due to the scale and cost involved, a range of innovative funding mechanisms are being investigated by Government and Auckland Council, such as applications to housing or growth funds.
Aligning with Government and local transport priorities
An important aspect to progressing the work is to ensure that the existing preferred network plans are reviewed in light of various new national and local transport priorities and the latest land use plans. Since the initial preferred network was identified in 2016, several important strategic documents and policies with a significant bearing on the strategic approach to transport planning have been confirmed or updated. These include:
The project business cases being developed by Te Tupu Ngātahi over the next few years will be developed to support the priorities set out in these documents. Te Tupu Ngātahi will work closely with Manawhenua, KiwiRail, and Auckland Council’s land use and structure planning team as they assess options for project corridors to develop an integrated response to growth.
Engaging with property owners
At this stage there are no confirmed plans, only ideas and corridor options. The programme is at an early stage in the planning process and the detailed investigations will be undertaken during 2018 and 2019. It is the start of an iterative process and there will be plenty of opportunities for the community to feed back on the design plans.
As it is still early days, we don’t yet know if a certain property will be affected by any of the transport network designs in the future. Over the next few months, as the investigative work begins, we will engage directly and early with potentially affected property owners to let them know if there are options that may impact them.