Transport improvements key to success in southern growth
The adoption of the Drury-Opaheke and Pukekohe-Paerata structure plans has highlighted the critical role the area has to support Auckland’s population growth.
About forty-five per cent of Auckland’s future urban land is around Drury and Pukekohe and an estimated 35,000 dwellings will be built over the next 30 years. The adoption of the structure plans now paves the way for land to be zoned for development.
As Penny Pirrit, Auckland Council’s Director of Urban Growth and Housing explains, managing this growth in a way that considers the needs of both developers and residents is a delicate balancing act.
“First and foremost, our goal is to enable faster delivery of housing within strong communities where there is the social and physical infrastructure, particularly public transport, in place to support people to thrive".
“During the development of the structure plan we had a number of landowners wanting to bring forward live-zoning of Drury land that isn’t due to be development ready until at least 2028.
“However, the overwhelming feedback we have from the community is that existing traffic issues needed to be addressed before more people move to the area.
“We want to see more homes delivered in south Auckland so we sought advice from the NZTA and AT, via the Supporting Growth Programme, about what transport infrastructure would be needed to accelerate urbanisation around Drury.
“Their initial analysis has supported residents’ views that a number of major projects including rail electrification to Pukekohe, rail stations and improvements to Mill Road and State Highway 1 are necessary to alleviate the current problems before further growth happens.”
Currently, there is a significant funding gap for these projects in excess of $2 billion. Over the next nine months, a programme of work led by Auckland Council and the Ministry of Transport will develop an integrated transport delivery programme plan with funding options.
Ward Councillor Bill Cashmore says it is essential for the roading and rail infrastructure projects to be delivered to remediate current congestion levels.
“These projects need to be future-proofed to provide for the growing population, we’ve got to do it once and do it right”.
As Mrs Pirrit explains, this means Auckland Council has paused Unitary Plan changes to bring forward live zoning of land near Drury from future decades until there has been progress to fix existing transport problems.
“We’ve now got the evidence to show there’s a significant transport problem already in Drury and surrounding areas.
“We have a duty to not make things worse for the people that currently live and work in the area. It would be irresponsible to encourage new development in areas without the infrastructure that communities need.”