Developers fight for strategic road connection

Silvertown is designed as a high quality town centre, which its developer says will lift Silverdale’s profile and prosperity.

Top, This artist’s impression was submitted to Council in a Special Housing Area application. Progress is on hold because a long-planned road link has not eventuated. Two hundred residential lots are planned for this Highgate site. From left, Highgate’s Alistair White and Gary Robertson of Silvertown.

A large town centre development planned for Silverdale has been put on hold after a key piece of the roading network was taken off Auckland Transport’s priority list.

The developer of the Silvertown site in Curley Ave, Gary Robertson, as well as the developers of Highgate, owned by Clayton Reid, are disappointed and angry that a road link planned since Rodney District Council days was reduced to a cycle and walkway in a recently released transport plan.

The proposed Curley Ave road extension is part of a corridor linking the major developments of Milldale and Highgate to Silverdale. In addition, the route is the key to unlock the planned Silvertown town centre development on a site at 31 Curley Ave.

It is also part of a planned bus network and would improve access for the Silverdale ambulance.

After basing all their traffic modelling, concept plans and consenting on this road, developers say they were shocked to see that Auckland Transport (AT) and the NZ Transport Agency had reduced the route to a cycle and walkway in their recent Indicative Strategic Transport Network report (HM August 21).

Gary Robertson has had his 8.6ha block of land in Curley Ave, almost half of which is zoned town centre, for more than a decade. He plans to build a town centre inspired by Arrowtown and hopes it will revitalise Silverdale. Mr Robertson has set aside land for the Curley Ave road extension and says it is “the final piece of the puzzle”.

He says AT provided no details about changing it to a cycleway – how it’s going to work, the costs or options.

“Five or six years ago they priced the road at roughly $18 million,” he says. “That’s peanuts when you look at the big picture of what it will provide. It will bring through traffic that Silverdale desperately needs and unlock development, including my town centre. Putting in a cycle and walkway alone will decimate Silverdale Village, which is already struggling,” he says.

The Highgate development lies between Milldale and Millwater. One hundred residential sites are complete there, with 200 to go as well as industrial and commercial development. Most of the zone is light industry, with medical and educational provisions also.

Land has been set aside in Highgate for the road connection and Highgate development manager Alastair White says years of planning and traffic modelling should not be forgotten. “The Curley Ave project has long been foreshadowed and uncertainty about its timing negatively impacts economic development in the greater Hibiscus Coast area.”

AT spokesperson Mark Hannan says the work on the recent indicative business case included assessment of different options for the Curley Ave connection.

“It was identified that the Curley Ave connection did not reach the criteria to be considered an arterial road, which is a significant piece of infrastructure assumed to be between 24m and 30m wide accommodating a large number of vehicles, buses and cyclists each day,” Mr Hannan says.

However he says the outcome of the business case does not prevent access roads being built as part of the development of the surrounding land.

“The plans for Curley Ave are still at a very early stage and there is further work to do to understand exactly what the future form and function of a proposed Curley Ave link could look like,” he says. “This work is anticipated to be undertaken over the next few years.”

In addition he says there are significant environmental and cultural impacts including on a Significant Ecological Area within Highgate, the Weiti River and difficult terrain. “This significantly increases the cost, which is an issue given the available funding for transport,” Mr Hannan says.

Mr White agrees that the route has its challenges but says that these, including the need to cross a special natural area, are being overcome through design and mitigation.

“This road has long been part of the plan, so it should have had the importance to be included in the Supporting Growth strategy – supporting growth is exactly what it does.”

“We will fight for this tooth and nail,” Mr Robertson says. We will vigorously oppose any attempt to take this off the table. They are not going to get away with it.”

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