Western Motorway Upgrade – Auckland


Source: NZTA

SkyPath gains consent

skypath_620x310The SkyPath cycling and walking attachment to the Auckland Harbour Bridge has been granted resource consent.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown says the decision is “a real game changer” for the city.

“This exciting project is another part of the physical uniting of Auckland,” Mr Brown said.

“Besides being of enormous benefit to cyclists, it’s a fabulous opportunity for Aucklanders and visitors to the city to walk across and have great views of our spectacular harbour.”.

The decision of the planning commissioners follow a hearing last month on the $33.5 million scheme.

Conceived as a community initiative, SkyPath will be financed by private sector funding as well as by the Auckland Council, where users pay an entrance fee to fund its construction and operation.

The covered pathway is planned to be a minimum of 4m wide, extending to 6m at five viewing platforms and is expected users will have to pay a toll of between $2 and $4 each way.

SkyPath will connect to the Westhaven walking and cycling promenade, where pedestrians, joggers and cyclists can get to the city via Wynyard Quarter.

Mr Brown said the next step to enable the project to proceed will be a report to be completed by Council staff on the proposed commercial arrangements and recommendations on how to proceed from there.

The backers of the scheme say the SkyPath will be made of a series of composite material U-beams that clip onto the underside of the eastern edge of the bridge, with a composite foam core deck.

“Horizontal composite rods are spaced out across the enclosure to allow viewing and maintaining safety,” an Auckland Council official said.

Generation Zero, a group working to cut carbon pollution, said it was “elated” that the project has been given the go ahead.

“SkyPath will be an iconic addition to the city, as well as a key transport link,” said group spokesman Sudhvir Singh

The application received 11,586 submissions with 11,413 in support, five neutral and 168 against.

There is a 15 working day appeal period.


  • NZ Herald

Big step for City Rail Link

Britomartstationdrawing_620x310Auckland Council recently announced a big step forward in its City Rail Link project, revealing details of the deal struck with listed landlord Precinct Properties to have underground tunnels built near the waterfront, under a new $550 million glass skyscraper.

Mayor Len Brown described the deal as a milestone and an historic moment for Auckland.

Britomartstationdesign_620x310“This is the first step towards the construction of the CRL. It will lead to an exciting transformation of the public spaces around the Britomart train station area. And it’s an example of how a partnership with the private sector can deliver economic transformation and more jobs in Auckland,” he has just announced.

He also released new images of the Britomart station and a map showing where the tunnels would run.

New rail tunnels must be constructed through the site now occupied by the Downtown Shopping Centre, which Precinct owns, the statement said.

Precinct also owns two adjacent commercial office towers – HSBC Tower at 1 Queen Street and Zurich House at 21 Queen Street, it said.

The deal between the two parties enables the rail tunnels to be built as part of the Downtown Development Project. Elements involved include the sale to Precinct of part of Queen Elizabeth Square for $27.2 million; Payment to Precinct of $9 million for provision of an East-West pedestrian laneway between Queen Street and Albert Street and compensation for tunnels volume; Payment of $10.7 million for additional costs of office tower construction due to CRL tunnels; and the creation of a new downtown civic space between the project and Britomart, the statement said.

Mr Brown said the deal meant a coordinated approach could now be taken to the construction work, with Auckland Transport building the CRL tunnels either side of the Precinct downtown shopping centre site from Britomart to Wyndham Street and Precinct Properties building the tunnels below its site.


  • NZ Herald

Early start for rail link?

railchurrThe Government is looking at an early start on the $2.4 billion City Rail Link – but only for a short section of the route to go with the redevelopment of the Downtown Shopping Centre. The underground rail link starts at Britomart and goes under Lower Queen St and the shopping centre before turning up Albert St bound for Mt Eden.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee told the Herald he had met Precinct Properties about plans for a $400 million to $500 million redevelopment of the downtown site.

Once those plans were firmed up, he said, the Government would want to see how the rail link and redevelopment might gel to ensure everyone got the best results out of the time the site was under construction.

But Mr Brownlee stressed there was no commitment from Precinct at this point and no commitment from the Government, which wanted construction on the full link to start in 2020. The section of the route under the downtown site “would be lucky to be 100m”, he said.

This is the first public indication from the Government of an early start on the rail link, which Auckland Mayor Len Brown wants to start building in 2016.

He is citing the downtown redevelopment as one reason to kickstart a $250 million cut-and-cover section of the link from Britomart and up much of Albert St.

Precinct chief executive Scott Pritchard yesterday said the company notified the stock exchange through its annual results reporting last week of a downtown start date in the first quarter of 2016. The annual results show the company is in the design phase and hopes to have resource consent and be committed to the project by the middle of next year.

“It would make sense to have works around that location done at the same time,” Mr Pritchard said. “Any Aucklander and visitor doesn’t want to see the bottom of the city under [construction for years].”

Last night, Mr Brown said it was great news the Government shared the view he heard every day that the rail link should be built as soon as possible.

Mr Brown – who has yet to fund the rail link – told a New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development symposium yesterday that work was coming to the “pointy end” of finding $300 million to $400 million of new funding sources a year to plug an $8 billion to $12 billion transport funding gap.

The Government rejected tolls, a regional fuel tax and congestion charges to meet the gap, and ratepayers baulked at high debt and rates.


NZ Herald

Auckland 10th most liveable city

SCCZEN_A_23082012NZHNSCITY2_620x310Auckland has again been ranked the tenth most liveable city in the world.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) has released its report on 140 cities, and for the fifth year in a row Auckland rounded out the top 10.

Melbourne was found to be the planet’s most liveable city, with Vienna and Vancouver taking the second and third positions respectively.

Wellington was the only other New Zealand city to be ranked, and was in 22nd place.
The report said the cities that scored best “tend to be mid-sized cities in wealthier countries with a relatively low population density.”

New Zealand has a density of 16 people per square kilometre, half of the United States average, the EIU said.

The report compared stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure to reach an overall score.

Auckland scored 95.7 overall, fewer than two points behind Melbourne, which scored 97.5.

Auckland scored a perfect 100 for education, but trailed the top 10 for healthcare with 95.7 points.

The city scored the second highest in the top 10 for culture and environment with 97 points, but scored only 92.9 for infrastructure.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown said Aucklanders should be proud.

“Aucklanders should rightly be proud that for the fifth year in a row we have been ranked a top 10 world city.

“However the number 10 ranking should remind us that we still have many challenges, not least of all starting work on essential infrastructure such as the City Rail Link, as we strive to become the world’s most liveable city.”

Top Ten
1. Melbourne, Australia
2. Vienna, Austria
3. Vancouver, Canada
4. Toronto, Canada
5. Adelaide, Australia
6. Calgary, Canada
7. Sydney, Australia
8. Helsinki, Finland
9. Perth, Australia
10. Auckland, New Zealand

Bottom Ten
131. Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire
132. Tripoli, Libya
133. Douala, Cameroon
134. Harare, Zimbabwe
135. Algiers, Algeria
136. Karachi, Pakistan
137. Lagos, Nigeria
138. Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
139. Dhaka, Bangladesh
140. Damascus, Syria


  • Sophie Ryan
  • NZ Herald
  • Photo: Natalie Slade

Plans for 18,000 fast-track Auckland homes

The announcement of 41 new “special housing areas” across Auckland will allow 18,000 new homes to be fast-tracked.

As part of the plans, parts of Great North Rd, Otahuhu, Flat Bush, New Lynn, Northcote, Albany East and Takanini have been earmarked as strategic areas for large-scale development.

auckland_housing_development_map_1_2_3_4_E1The announcement by Auckland Mayor Len Brown and Housing Minister Nick Smith detailed the third, and biggest, tranche of new housing areas identified under last year’s Auckland Housing Accord.

The accord provides for the creation of areas where consents will be streamlined and fast-tracked. But the plans are raising concern in areas from Takapuna to Newmarket, as residents realise their streets will change dramatically.

Dr Smith and Mr Brown made their announcement at 11 Akepiro St, Mt Eden, a site to be developed into 18 units by Ockham Residential, whose developments include The Isaac and Turing apartment buildings in Grey Lynn.

Dr Smith predicted the first places would be ready by the end of this year.

“Not all of the SHA’s [Special Housing Areas] will deliver all of the housing within the three-year term of the accord – some projects may take up to 10 years to complete. That is why the council and Government will continue to work on many more SHA’s, with the next tranche planned for August,” Dr Smith said.

Mr Brown said the latest batch of SHA’s included seven strategic areas identified as having good transport links and access to other infrastructure.

“These are larger areas where we don’t yet have developers with proposals, but where we are signalling to the market that we want to encourage growth. “In addition, many of the SHA’s announced today are significantly larger than those in the first two tranches, and include 34 direct requests from private landowners or developers as well as extensions to three existing SHA’s,” he said.

Twenty-two areas, with the capacity for 15,500 homes, have already been announced.

The new areas are still subject to Cabinet approval and a recommendation to the Governor-General.

The latest announcement has upset some North Shore politicians who say the areas will suffer from intensification.

Jan O’Connor of the Devonport Takapuna Local Board and Grant Gillon, Lorene Pigg and John Gillon of the neighbouring Kaipatiki Local Board said they were appalled by the plans. “The Northcote Special Housing Area is of particular concern, as there are known to be severe stormwater and flooding issues which make this area unsuitable for intensification in this way,” the leaders said.

A council Housing Project Office spokeswoman said a stormwater project to resolve the flooding through Northcote town centre would be brought forward and having the area designated an SHA would accelerate completion.


  • Anne Gibson
  • NZ Herald



5-Star for Auckland waterfront

Construction of a $200 million 5-star hotel on Auckland’s waterfront is expected to start next year with Chinese funding.

Auckland Council mayor Len Brown has confirmed the 200-room hotel in Wynyard Quarter will be developed in partnership between council organisation Waterfront Auckland and Beijing-based property developer Fu Wah International Group. The hotel was expected to open by 2017.

078b08eb3bd9268335680fa58a48cbfe8ba8066a_620x311The $200m investment by Fu Wah Group was believed to be one of the largest foreign investments in public infrastructure in New Zealand, Brown said. ‘‘The hotel will provide a boost in job numbers and be instrumental in attracting high net worth individuals to visit Auckland, a segment recently identified by the tourism industry as still largely untapped.’’

PricewaterhouseCoopers economic analysis estimated the hotel will create more than 1300 fulltime jobs and add more than $100m to Auckland’s GDP during construction. Once completed the hotel was expected to add more than 750 jobs and generate more than $50m to the region’s GDP per year.

Brown said Fu Wah was chosen after a process which began in 2012.

The Chinese tourism market is worth $670m a year to New Zealand and the Tourism Industry Association expects this to double over the next five years.

Brown said having a Chinese developer and a yet to be selected premium hotel brand will help attract wealthy Chinese tourists.

He said the deal meant Waterfront Auckland and the council could maintain ownership of its strategic assets, but leverage them using private funding.


  • Josh Martin
  • Fairfax NZ

Plans for NZ’s tallest skyscraper

Plans for New Zealand’s tallest skyscraper, to rise in the heart of Auckland, have been unveiled today.

A $350 million 52-level 209m skyscraper has been announced for a CBD site left vacant since the 1980s when Chase Corporation demolished the Royal International Hotel.

Chinese developer New Development Group is to build the tower, known now as NDG Auckland Centre, on the site of a carpark and bungy jump bounded by Elliot St, Albert St and Victoria St.


Auckland Council has granted resource consent for the giant which will only be dwarfed by the 328 m Sky Tower. A building consent is still pending.

Mayor Len Brown announced details of the tower to the Herald this morning, saying it would be a huge transformation for the city.

“Alongside the SkyTower, this will be a world class development for Auckland that will create hundreds of new jobs, energise the CBD and boost Auckland’s GDP, through a more than $350 million investment by NDG,” Brown said.

“It’s also an example of the major commercial opportunities created by the City Rail Link project. To date the private sector has confirmed more than a billion dollars of new investments along the proposed route, including Precinct Properties’ downtown retail and office development ($300m+) the NZ International Convention Centre ($400m+) and Elliott Towers ($350m+),” he said.

It’s not the first time big plans have been announced for the site though, which has been sitting empty since 1987.

Less than a month before that year’s stock market crash, a newly formed property firm, Acadia Corp, sent a wrecking ball into the Royal International Hotel.

The hotel was the flagship of beer giant Dominion Breweries. Its interior was decorated by Lady Kelliher, wife of DB managing director Sir Henry Kelliher, and it hosted the Beatles in 1964.

Acadia planned a $120 million, 32-storey office tower on the site – bordered by Elliott, Victoria and Albert Sts – due to open in 1990.

But after the crash, the site was turned over to carparks as a succession of developers floated and then abandoned their dreams.

Acadia was taken over by Sir Ron Brierley’s BIL, which sold the site to Colin Reynolds’ Chase Corporation.

Chase wanted to install its retail subsidiary Farmers Trading Co on the ground floor. Above that it planned an office tower connected to Chase’s Finance Centre by a sky-bridge across Victoria St. It was to be New Zealand’s version of London’s CanaryWharf.

Just a few months after Chase revealed its plans, the Government placed the firm’s property arm under statutory management, a move that marked the start of its spectacular demise.

After Chase, the site fell into the hands of an Indonesian firm before it was bought by the present owner – Korea’s DaeJu – for $25.5 million in 2003.

DaeJu’s planned a 67-storey, $450 million retail and apartment complex known as the Elliott Tower.

In a 2006 story privately owned DaeJu, which has interests as diverse as finance, shipbuilding, media, and property, had applied for resource consents to build its skyscraper.

The story said it “had yet to decide how it will pay for the development, who will build it and when work will start. But it insists the project will go ahead.”

DaeJu was aiming at the top end of the market. The cheapest apartment of that planned building was to have been about $320,000 and the most expensive tipped to go for as much as $7 million.

That tower was designed by Auckland architect Gordon Moller, who also designed the Sky Tower.

“You get views on both sides, instead of having dark rooms at the back of the apartment and no view,” said Moller at the time. “On the west will be the upper harbour view and the afternoon sun and on the east the prospect out to Rangitoto.


  • Anne Gibson
  • NZ Herald

Auckland Council backs home construction plan

The Auckland Council has unanimously backed the Housing Accord with the Government to fast track the construction of 39,000 new homes over three years.

The agreement notifies or effectively puts Auckland’s proposed new Unitary Plan in place, allowing new housing developments to gain consents more quickly.


“We can now get on with the actions agreed in the Housing Accord – unlocking new land for development and fast-tracking the build of more affordable homes in Auckland,” Auckland Mayor Len Brown said.

Today’s decision by the council follows the passing of the Government’s Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act last week. The Act allows for the establishment of special housing areas with a streamlined consent process.

“The next step will be to identify the first batch of Special Housing Areas that will contribute to the 39,000 extra homes provided for under the Accord over the next three years,” Housing Minister Nick Smith said.

“My ambition is to provide sufficient Special Housing Areas by Christmas to accommodate an additional 5000 homes.”


  • Adam Bennett
  • NZ Herald

City planning for rail link

Construction of a new shopping centre on a site to be demolished for the Central Rail Link is scheduled to begin four years before Government funding of the transport project.

Site owner Precinct Properties yesterday announced a deal with Auckland Council to co-ordinate the timing of work at Downtown Shopping Centre on Queen St with the building of a tunnel there for the City Rail Link.

“We welcome the chance to work … with the council as obviously it would make a lot of sense to co-ordinate timing so they can advance works for the CRL tunnel at this site at the same time as we develop the downtown centre,” Precinct chief executive Scott Pritchard said.

rail link

Precinct plans to build a new shopping centre with an extra level of outlets as well as a tower office block on the site, giving a preliminary start date of 2016. This is in line with the council’s preferred schedule for the City Rail Link construction to begin.

Prime Minister John Key indicated a delayed start date of 2020 when he announced government financial backing of the $2.86 billion project.

But he has said the start could be brought forward if Auckland Transport could lift annual train patronage to 20 million passenger trips “well before 2020” and show a 25 per cent leap in CBD jobs.

The target is almost double current train patronage.

Mayor Len Brown said it was possible construction could start early.

“The Prime Minister has left open the possibility of an earlier start for the CRL and we will continue to discuss timing with the Government. My view is an earlier start would be significantly more cost effective and allow Auckland to reap the economic benefits sooner, but those are discussions we are yet to have.”

Mr Pritchard said the sooner work could start, “the better”.

“We are supporters of the City Rail Link, and the ability for public transport to bring more people into the city would be good for our business,” he said. “From a business perspective the sooner the better, and if this acts as a catalyst to bring forward the date that would be good.”

The shopping centre sits on land required to build and operate the rail link. Two rail lines will emerge from Britomart travelling below QEII Square and Downtown, before curving under Albert St as they head south to connect with the line at Mt Eden.

Mr Brown said the agreement to try to co-ordinate construction was “another great step” in the progress of the CBD rail link. “Today we celebrate 10 years since the first train service at Britomart and here we are a decade later agreeing to negotiate a kick-start for the next exciting phase of our city’s rail future,” he said.

The link will be able to carry 30,000 people an hour at peak times, with trains running every 5 to 10 minutes.

Train timetable

Govt date to fund half the cost of $2.86 billion City Rail Link, unless Auckland Transport can lift train patronage and CBD jobs.

Auckland Council’s preferred start-date and scheduled start for construction of new shopping centre above the link.


  • NZ Herald
  • Picture: aucklandtransport.govt.nz
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