Ports of Auckland expansion plan raises bigger questions

Posted on Sunday, February 12 2012

The recent flurry of media attention regarding the potential expansion of the Auckland Port raises some interesting issues around upper North Island long term development planning. As part of the Auckland Spatial, Waterfront and Unitary Plan processes (which our last article covered) the Port is seeking to reaffirm its Port Management/Development Zone which is currently detailed within the Auckland Regional Plan: Coastal and provides the regulatory framework for the Port to make resource consent applications to extend the wharves and associated reclamations.

Plans and computer generated images from background technical papers show the expanded port would cover a much large area of the Waitemata Harbour than that currently occupied by the Port’s wharves and container storage areas. These plans have already created significant public debate regarding the current and future role of the Auckland Port as a major inner harbour and coastal land occupier, and the need for public access to and enjoyment of the Harbour.

Whilst the continued growth of freight through the Port seems likely it is also to be expected that the Ports at Tauranga and Marsden Point (Northport) will seek to take custom from Ports of Auckland (especially in light of the Port’s continued industrial strike issues), and we think Northport is very well positioned to become a major player in the country’s sea freight business.

Whangarei District Council’s Marsden Point Ruakaka Structure Plan provides a framework for the long term growth of the area, including the creation of a new Primary Centre which will cater for a population of up to 40,000 people. A significant amount of land is identified within the Primary Centre for residential (26ha), retail and commercial (36ha), light and heavy industry (105ha) and education (19ha) uses. This Structure Plan provides for a large increase in population and employment in the Marsden Point area based on the expansion of the Port and associated activities and increased migration by people seeking the enviable lifestyle and weather that Northland provides. A recent plan change has now put in place the initial zoning for around half of the primary centre including the new Main Street town centre commercial area, some 400 new dwellings and over 100ha of light and heavy industrial land.

The growth of Marsden Point and the wider Whangarei area will also be greatly supported by two large transport infrastructure projects which are currently in the planning stages – the Marsden Rail Link and the extension of the Northern Motorway from Puhoi to Wellsford. The designation for the rail link is now in place and this secures the route and location of the double track rail line to link the port with the North Auckland Rail line at Oakleigh. The Northern Motorway extension to Wellsford is a well known (and controversial) new motorway which will reduce travel times to Whangarei and make it easier for large goods vehicles to travel between Whangarei and Auckland. While some have labelled this part of the national highway network the “holiday highway”, the facts are that it is also a busy and increasingly congested heavy transport route for goods and services between Auckland and the North.

Overall, the development of Marsden Point and the wider Whangarei area, along with the new rail link and extended Motorway, should result in the deep water port at Marsden Point becoming a key port for the upper North Island, potentially reducing the need for further expansion of the Port of Auckland, assisting in the continued growth of the Northland economy, and providing a range of property development and investment opportunities in the Whangarei region.

Wishing you a happy and prosperous 2012 from the team at Terra Nova Planning, your resource management experts.

Disclosure – Terra Nova Planning were involved in both the Structure Plan and Town Centre Plan Change referred to in the above article.



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Expert's Bio

Mark Benjamin

At Terra Nova Planning, we specialise in strategic and policy planning, structure planning, urban design, and the consenting of development schemes. We have a track record of many hundreds of successful land use and subdivison resource consents.

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