Route protection of the projects within the Supporting Growth Programme will begin from 2019, with the aim of protecting the full network over the next five years. So, what does route protection mean and what does the process involve? Check out the FAQs below.

1. What is route protection and why is it important?

Generally, route protection is a planning process to identify and protect land areas to enable the future construction and operation of necessary infrastructure (such as water, wastewater, rail, transport or power etc). For some projects, the time between route protection and construction is very short, but in other projects it can be some years before project construction commences.

Route protection is important because it provides property owners, businesses and the community with increased certainty on where infrastructure will be in the future. This can help people make more informed decisions about their own land and development of that land.

Having route protection in place helps guide decision making as future urban growth areas develop, while maintaining the long-term vision of future infrastructure connections needed. This can be very important if new roads or transport routes are needed to connect through areas. Route protection is not intended to finalise the form or function of projects.

In our case, the Supporting Growth Programme is protecting routes for future transport corridors that will be required to support new future urban growth areas (greenfields) over the next 30 years.

2. How does the route protection process work?

Route protection is generally achieved either by formal statutory planning processes (e.g. gaining a designation, or by changing zoning on land), or via direct agreements with landowners to set aside land.

In most cases for the Supporting Growth Programme, it is expected that route protection will be gained by way of a designation. A designation is a provision in a District Plan that allows a requiring authority (such as the NZ Transport Agency or Auckland Transport) to use the land for specified public works. A designation indicates where and how the land is likely to be used in the future, along with any restrictions or conditions that may apply.

To formalise a designation, either the NZ Transport Agency or Auckland Transport will make an application, by filing a Notice of Requirement (NoR) under the Resource Management Act 1991. A hearing and approval process will follow. If you own land affected by a NoR, you would have an opportunity to make a submission and have that submission heard by the authority overseeing the application (eg Council commissioners or the Environment Court, depending on the statutory process).

3. What are the benefits of route protection?

  • Route protection enables land to be available for a public work when it is needed in the future.  
  • Route protection provides planning certainty. It can provide developers with a clear direction on future transport services in residential and industrial areas, so they can plan around it – eg, where walk-up catchments will be to rapid transit stations. It can also guide future location choices for other essential community services, for example schools and hospitals.
  • Route protection helps the community, individual property owners, and businesses make informed choices. Information about the designation will appear on the land information memorandum (LIM) Report for your property and will show on the relevant planning maps.
  • While a designation signals the future use of the land for a public work, in the meantime you can continue to use that land in the manner you were before the NoR was lodged. If you want to build or develop your land, this would need to be discussed with the ‘Requiring Authority’ (e.g. Auckland Transport or the NZ Transport Agency) and agreed on.

4. When will I know if my property is going to be affected by route protection?

The Supporting Growth Programme intends to start lodging applications and NoRs for some of the projects in the programme from 2019. Due to the volume of projects being investigated, we intend to stage the NoRs over the next few years (2019 – 2021). This means that any land that is likely to be affected by a route protection process will be identified in stages from 2019.  

If your property was likely to be affected, we will engage with you directly. This will ensure you are kept updated on how any of your property might be affected and, if a formal designation process is planned, how that route protection process is progressing and when you will have the chance to make submissions and be heard by an independent person/group (such as council commissioners or the Environment Court).

5. When will you need to buy my property - or part of my property?

Confirmation of a route protection process does not typically mean that a property needs to be acquired by either Council or the Crown immediately. Property owners can continue to occupy and own the land until it is required in the future. If you want to build or develop your land, this would need to be discussed with the ‘Requiring Authority’ (e.g. Auckland Transport or the NZ Transport Agency) and agreed on.

6. When will construction start?

The Supporting Growth Programme’s projects are mostly medium to long term projects not expected to begin construction for another 10+, 20+ or 30+ years’ time. Therefore, in most situations, either Council or the Crown will aim to purchase any required land within a few years of the expected construction date (noting that some exceptions for advance purchases may apply under Section 185 of the Resource Management Act).

However, both Auckland Transport and the NZ Transport Agency are committed to supporting property owners through this process. They have property representatives who can work with any affected property owners to answer any questions you have about the process, compensation and timelines. 

7. How can I use my land once it is designated?

If your property is affected by a designation, you or any other owner will be able to continue to use the land in the manner you were before the designation was put in place. However, you would need to seek approval from either the NZ Transport Agency or Auckland Transport for any new activities within the designation that could affect the future construction or operation of the transport corridor (e.g. if it is a rural farm and you wanted to put a house in the corridor area ‘designated’ or set aside for transport purposes).  Information about the designation will appear on the land information memorandum (LIM) Report for your property and will show on the relevant planning maps.

It’s also important to note that such restrictions apply to properties from the date of an NoR’s lodgement, maintaining interim effect until the designation is either approved or declined.

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