Glasshape is a Warkworth company with an international reputation. Founded in 1986, it focuses on the design, manufacturing and supply of specialist glass solutions from its base in Woodcocks Road. Financial director Mark Forrest shares his views on the area’s growth issues:
Warkworth population growth in the last 10 years has been 1000. To consider expected growth of 1000 per year for 30 years is daunting and will need very careful planning. Warkworth will be the size of what Gisborne, Wanganui or Timaru are now. Warkworth will become an important service centre because of its strategic position half way between Auckland and Whangarei.
Instead of one secondary school, there will be at least five and the same for primary schools. A large shopping centre dominated by national retailers will be established, (unfortunately Stockyard Falls was a little premature for the population) and the current town centre will survive by becoming a tourist service area dominated by boutique shops, cafes and restaurants facing the river.
The river could be cleaned up and the water level controlled by a weir just north of the boatyard, opening on high tide for boat movements. Fifty metres either side of the river, right back as far as Wairere Reserve, could be reserved for walkways, cycleways and picnic areas.
In terms of immediate challenges, infrastructure needs to be fixed for the current needs, let alone for the future.
Land development: The small amount of industrial zoned land available currently is on hillsides, requiring substantial retaining walls and is not suitable for larger buildings. Industrial land must be provided on level land. Industry must be provided for to develop local jobs for the local population otherwise traffic build up into Auckland in the mornings will become worse.
Traffic flow: SH1 currently divides the town, separating the schools and industrial area from the main residential area, causing traffic build up with parents driving their children to school for safety. We also have the Hill St corner congestion. I would like to see the main road through-traffic diverted west of the current road, starting at a roundabout, near Valerie Close, with a new route joining into Evelyn St, Mansel Drive, over the river, across Falls Rd, continued behind the industrial buildings on Hudson Rd, and joining SH1 north of Timberworld. This could be aligned with the proposed bypass to Matakana and Snells Beach Roads. An western bypass road has the advantage of fixing the Hill St corner traffic problems and can be developed without interfering with the current traffic flows. It would make the town safer for students access to schools and would also give access to develop the proposed southern residential zone area in the Unitary Plan, providing a route for that residential area to access the new motorway without causing more traffic through Hill St corner. It would provide access to develop a much-needed larger industrial zone, behind the current Hudson Rd industrial area, through to the weigh station/motorway junction area. All these areas will have to be developed for the expected Warkworth growth. Put the road in now to fix the current traffic problem. The current eastern bypass proposal doglegging along Morrison Drive, Mansel Drive then Hudson Rd will not be suitable to take the bulk of the through traffic away from Hill St corner. Hudson Rd itself is not a suitable road to be used as a bypass route.
Sewerage system: The current system needs to be moved away from the river. This will make the river cleaner so the wharf area can be developed to attract tourists. A new sewerage system needs to be developed well beyond the expected town boundary with 30,000 population.
The biggest change that the expected growth will bring will be social. No longer will everyone know everyone else with a small tight knit community having each generation passing through the same school. Growth is good. It brings more choice, more competition, more services, more local job opportunities and less need to commute to the city.
But it is vital that structure planning is completed early. We don’t need anymore ad hoc developments and pockets of retail and commercial zonings. We need to identify early where the main retail complex should be, identify where the new schools will be, identify the potential main traffic flow routes, identify where the sewage system should be positioned, and identify a suitable industrial zone area suitable for larger buildings to attract larger industry employers. The local cemetery is full so we also need to identify where the new cemetery should be.
Once these main land requirements are identified and secured the future growth will happen in a more orderly manner. There needs to be local planning and support to locally produce the Warkworth Structure Plan. This plan is currently being produced by Burnette O’Conner and others. With local community approval and acceptance, the plan can be presented to Council to be adopted as the Warkworth Structure Plan. In this way we get a plan that answers local needs, not just what the Council may dream up.