Hibiscus Matters sat down with Auckland Mayor Phil Goff last month and quizzed him on some local issues. Here is what he said:
Q: Traffic is building fast on the Coast. If Penlink is not brought forward, what else can be done to avoid gridlock?
A: For Penlink to be brought forward into the next decade (2018-28) it would need to be fully funded by Government or by another entity outside of Auckland Council. This is because Council is close to its agreed debt limits, with credit ratings and our cost of borrowing being dependent on this. Penlink would not generate sufficient revenue as a toll-road to cover its construction costs, so a PPP structure does not resolve the fiscal problem that would be posed by a Penlink PPP. I support Penlink becoming a fully Government funded project. Other alternatives could include dedicated bus lanes down the length of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula, along with enhanced bus/ferry options from/to Gulf Harbour.
Q: Where are the local jobs? Council allowed developers to change zoning from commercial to residential in a number of local sites, leaving residents no option but to commute.
A: Auckland has a shortage of housing and this is a more immediate and pressing problem than availability of business land. Council is, however, ensuring there is sufficient business land in the Hibiscus and Bays area via the current refresh of the Future Urban Land Supply (FULS) document a draft, which will be presented to the Planning Committee on July 4. There is still some vacant business land in the current Silverdale business area that when developed will provide jobs. The area around the Silverdale Park n Ride was zoned for General Business relatively recently and developers are investigating options for other parts of it. Again, this will provide further employment opportunities when developed. The Highgate Business Park is also a significant area (around 39ha), which is zoned Light Industrial and Neighbourhood Centre.
The Silverdale West area has been added to the Rural Urban Boundary and is zoned Future Urban at present. It is shown in the refresh of the FULS as likely to be business land with the land to be development ready by 2022. This means that a Structure Plan for the area will be started from July this year. The key reason for identifying the land for business is to provide jobs for the likely future residential development in the wider Wainui and Dairy Flat growth areas. Business land in the area will also address reverse sensitivity issues with the North Shore Airport
Planting a million trees is great, but how about protection for the ones we have left? There was a case a few years ago where more than 70 notable totara were felled by developers in Red Beach, with Council consent, and more recently 500 mostly mature natives were felled to build 520 houses in Red Beach.
The Government made amendments to the Resource Management Act that took away Council’s ability to have general tree protection rules in urban areas. We also know that 60 percent of urban trees are on private land so it is more important than ever to encourage private land owners to keep trees and also for council to up their efforts in terms of planting on public land. That is what we are doing through the Million Trees programme.