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.
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.
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.”