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Off-road pathways needed to link North-Waikato towns

A new report has called for a network of off-road tracks and trails connecting the North Waikato towns of Pokeno, Pukekohe, and Tuakau.

The Connecting Franklin North-Waikato stakeholder report was written by the Walking Access Commission Ara Hīkoi Aotearoa, with the support of the Waikato District Council, the Waikato Regional Council, and the Franklin Local Board of Auckland Council.

Asher Wilson-Goldman, Strategic Communications and Partnerships Manager for the Commission, says the report promotes a shared vision for public accessways across the North Waikato and South Auckland.

"We need to plan a network of accessways for the growing number of people in the region. These paths can serve many purposes, including recreation, tourism and commuting - walking, cycling, running and horse-riding."

Last year local people brought their councils and the Commission together for a hui to discuss concerns about public access and transport in their rapidly growing region.

Many farms are subdividing into homes and suburbs, and industry is intensifying. This growth will continue for years to come.

"We need to plan now to preserve and enhance the quality of life currently present in these areas," says Wilson-Goldman.

Wilson-Goldman interviewed 60 people who live, work and play in the area. His report describes the need to ignore the artificial boundaries between the Auckland and Waikato regions. It calls for a network of largely off-road tracks and trails for walking, cycling and, where appropriate, horse riding. These routes will connect communities, towns and natural amenities.

Now that the report is finished, the Commission has engaged Shades of Green Ltd to use the report’s themes to name some key projects that can turn the vision into reality.

Local councils will create a governance structure to run the key projects. This will involve council staff, central government, developers, local community volunteer groups and residents.


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