One Warkworth presented a damning assessment of Auckland Council’s draft Warkworth Structure Plan at a public meeting held at the Bridgehouse Bar and Restaurant on March 20, just days before public submissions on the plan closed.
The plan anticipates what Warkworth will look like in 30 years, when its population is expected to have grown to between 25,000 and 30,000 people.
The plan envisages new and expanded industrial areas, residential areas, retail centres, parks, roads, walkways and cycleways.
During their presentation to about 60 people, One Warkworth chair Chris Murphy and deputy chair Mark Macky said the vision for the structure plan did not appear to be reflected in the plan itself, nor did it appear to reflect community aspirations.
Mr Macky said a major problem was the limited scope of the draft plan. It dealt only with the 1000ha of land within the Rural Urban Boundary (RUB), zoned Future Urban. It specifically excluded the existing Warkworth township.
“It’s really hard to plan the future of a town without taking the existing town into account,” he said.
Furthermore, land just outside the RUB might be perfect for a particular purpose, but could not be considered by the plan.
For example, there was not much flat industrial land within the RUB, but beyond it, there was an abundance with good motorway connections.
To keep within the RUB, the plan had fragmented industrial land into four separate areas that was “poorly located.”
Mr Macky further argued that it should be designated general business land rather than “industrial”.
“I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t like the idea of living in an industrial town,” he said.
The presenters praised the designation of a southern interchange on the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway, currently under construction, but criticised the fact that, according to the plan, it would only allow motorists to head south.
Trucks leaving the southern industrial area wanting to head north would be obliged to travel through residential areas, through the middle of town and through the Hill Street intersection. Southern residents heading north would face the same hurdles.
The presenters said it was essential the interchange allowed vehicles to head north and south.
Other concerns included placing reserves inappropriately on top of hills and overlooking motorways, business zoning that was not sufficiently diverse and a roading network that seemed incomplete and ineffective,
Responding to criticisms, Council planner Ryan Bradley said Council did not feel it was necessary for the structure plan to look beyond the RUB, as there was plenty of land within it to meet Warkworth’s needs.
He said there was no desire to turn Warkworth into an industrial town. Proposed industrial zoned land had been tacked on to existing industrial zoned land and the percentage of people working in industry in 30 years was not anticipated to be any greater than it was today.
Council North West planning manager Warren McLennan said many issues raised at the meeting had also been discussed by Council officers and it would be interesting to see the public submissions.
“If the community speaks with one voice there is potential for change,” he said.
He said Council had pressured the NZ Transport Agency for the southern interchange. He was pleased it had made it on to the draft plan and hoped the agency could be persuaded to develop it further.
Once public feedback has been considered, the plan is scheduled to go to Council’s Planning Committee for adoption in June.
A One Warkworth PowerPoint presentation on the structure plan is available at localmatters.co.nz/news/31588-warkworth-structure-plan-responses.html