Burnette Macnicol says Auckland Council needs to make planning for Warkworth’s future a priority.
Developers rather than the community could shape the future growth of Warkworth unless planning for the town is fast-tracked, Warkworth planner Burnette Macnicol says.
Burnette made a presentation to the Warkworth Area Liaison Group (WALG) last month, focusing on some of the issues the town will face if it swells to a population of 20,000.
She said one of her biggest concerns was that Auckland Council hadn’t allowed enough time to plan for how Warkworth should grow. This could reduce the opportunity for public input and lead to developers driving growth by making Plan Changes.
“Developers won’t wait for Council. They will come and make things happen, but it won’t be in an organised way that’s backed by the community,” Burnette said.
She used The Grange development, at the south of Warkworth, as an example of how haphazard growth can be driven by developers when robust planning hasn’t been completed.
“The Grange land was re-zoned through a proper, legal plan change, but it didn’t have a future vision. We don’t want more of that type of thing happening in an ad hoc way.”
The most important step was getting a new structure plan for Warkworth, which would include details of where residential, business and industrial land would be in the future. This would enable the community to have its say on the future of the town before it expands.
“The structure plan needs to be created with community input and it needs to happen now, so when developers make proposals, the views of the community are represented.”
A structure plan is non-statutory, but it is a factor considered by Council when assessing applications for developments and plan changes.
However, Council doesn’t plan to start a new structure plan for Warkworth until 2018, giving just four years for the process.
Last month, Council announced a proposal that could see 290 hectares of land to the north of Warkworth zoned for development by 2022.
“In my experience, it takes about seven years to produce a structure plan. I can’t think how they will be able to get it done in three or four years.”
Regardless of Council’s plans for Warkworth, the town will face a surge of growth in the future, she said.
“History tells us that extending the motorway to Warkworth will mean growth. Albany started developing after the motorway was completed and so did Silverdale.
“I know of several developers who already have significant developments in mind looking to buy land.
“The pressure is on.”
Burnette urged the liaison group to lobby Council to start a structure plan next year.