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.
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.”
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
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
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.
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.
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.
The $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.