Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Urban renewal a vision with growing pains

Four projects launched last decade to create or revitalise Auckland communities have endured hard times to reach milestones in their development.

Building of the Westgate library is due to start next year as part of a new town centre tipped to have 4000 residents.
Building of the Westgate library is due to start next year as part of a new town centre tipped to have 4000 residents.

Whole new towns are taking shape within metropolitan Auckland after nearly a dozen years of planning and half a billion dollars of public spending to encourage developers.

Towns at Westgate Centre, Hobsonville Point, Flat Bush and the regeneration of New Lynn are "transformational projects" inherited by the Super City from the former city councils of Waitakere and Manukau, which chose the projects well before the November 2010 merger and had agreements with private-sector developers.

The councils believed it was within their role to foster economic development by setting up new town centres and community facilities to create encouraging conditions for landowners and developers.

Three years ago, Auckland Council agreed with the idea of making it easier for developers - in the face of the Auckland Plan's finding that acceptable intensive housing was needed if the city was to house an extra 650,000 people within 30 years.

It was a time of an investment recession and construction confidence was low - 3485 new dwelling consents were issued for the year up to September 2011.

This week, the council said if the current level of building continued there could be about 7000 new dwellings consented for 2013-14, which is about double the 2011 total.

"The transformational projects progressed because they have committed landowners and developers and because council has an active role in facilitating action," said council regional and local planning manager Penny Pirrit.

The projects had been through standard planning requirements including public engagement to produce master plans with appropriate zoning.

Ms Pirrit said many civic works were paid for from levies on developers.

New Lynn's major stimulus for urban renewal - the $160 million undergrounding of the railway through the town and $36 million upgrade of the rail-bus interchange - was up and running.

The city transformation team's role was getting projects off the ground by bringing various council departments, state roading and energy agencies together with landowners and developers to ensure the provision of infrastructure was coordinated and running to the development's timetable.

"But in working with developers, the council is trying to achieve not just a one-off, stand-alone project but creating urban neighbourhoods," said Ms Pirrit.

Getting parks established by the time the residents arrive had been part of the council's role and it had also guided the Ministry of Education with population predictions for growth hot-spots.

"Hobsonville and Flat Bush are good examples of where the ministry has delivered high-quality schools, which are key lures for people making decisions on where they want to live."

Infrastructure for the Silverdale North staged expansion, called Millwater, was built by WFH Properties which aims for 3000 homes and 10,000 residents over 300ha. The 1866 Stoney Homestead in the middle of the development was restored for $1.6 million as a community house by the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board.

New Lynn

New Lynn's merchant quarter is part of a major stimulus for the area, including the $160 million railway undergrounding and $36 million transport interchange upgrade.

23ha, west Auckland
$780 million
Auckland Council: $20 million.
Developer: Tasman Cook and Infratil.
Completion: 2018.
What it is: Town centre renewal and transport hub.
Metropolitan centre with high-density housing, aiming for 20,000 residents and 14,000 jobs by 2030.
What has been done: Public spending includes $380 million underground rail station and bus interchange, a public car parking building on the former bus station, two shared street spaces, the Clark St bypass and an upgrade of Great North Rd.
The Merchant Quarter has $26 million health centre, shops and a four-storey car park, above which a 10-storey, 110-unit apartment tower is nearing completion.
What remains to be done: Maisonette terrace houses next to the apartment tower and more apartments in the Merchant Quarter.
Redevelopment of the former Crown Lynn area including new stormwater development, $5.7 million park, 1800 new homes, business space and new roading.
Redevelopment of Lynn Mall for between $60 million and $100 million proposed by Kiwi Income Property.

Hobsonville Point

New high-quality schools like Hobsonville Point Secondary are seen as key factors for people when they are deciding where to live.

167ha, northwest Auckland
$1.5 billion
Auckland Council: $26 million.
Developer: Hobsonville Land Co and AV Jennings and Willis Bond.
Completion: Estimated 10 years.
What it is: Staged development on former air base, of 3000-4000 houses, plus local shops and offices, primary and secondary schools, parks, coastal walkway and ferry and bus connections.
What has been done: Public wharf and ferry services operating with connecting bus services and park and ride. Two schools built under NZ's first public-private partnership. Central linear park, playground, part of new main road built and part of a key road upgraded and waste-water pump station built.
State subsidiary Hobsonville Land Co has so far sold land to group builders for 180 houses built and 220 homes under construction, including 60 apartments, and 500 more in the planning stages. Two out of 10 new homes sold for under $485,000.
What remains to be done: Further stages of house building; local retail, community hall, coastal walk, local parks, more roading, stormwater and wastewater services.
Hobsonville Village supermarket, shops and offices. Summerset's $120 million retirement village on waterfront site, with 225 villas and apartments.

Westgate Centre

150ha, northwest Auckland
$1 billion
Auckland Council: $200 million of civic projects.
Developers: NZ Retail Property Group (NZRPG), DNZ Property Fund, Foodstuffs and Auckland Council.
Completion: Stage 1, commercial and retail buildings in new town centre, in two to five years, costing between $450 million and $500 million.
What it is: A metropolitan centre of commercial, retail and housing around an underground bus station. Tipped to create 10,000 new jobs and have 4000 residents.
Site is across the road from the present Westgate shopping centre and linked to the Upper Harbour Motorway SH18.
Auckland Council is a partner with private firms to create the new centre's heart, including a $14 million library and town square, 6ha of parks and walkways.
What has been done: First stage of centre begun and most stormwater and roading work finished, including Rua Rd South.
What remains to be done: Don Buck Rd extension and Waru Rd link to the town square to be finished by mid-year. Town centre civic projects. Library works to start in August for 2015 finish.
Pak'n Save opens late this year. DNZ plans to open a 30,000sq m internal mall by October next year.
NZRPG plan to open the first stages of bulk retail, trade and building and street retail over next 12-18 months to complement the 45,000sq m centre.
Terrace houses and apartments buildings, light industry and mixed use.

Flat Bush

Barry Curtis Park in Flat Bush.

1700ha, southeast Auckland
$2.8 billion (private sector).
Auckland Council: $220 million.
Developers: Todd Property, Hugh Green Group, Neil Group, Howick Parklands, Green Land Investment.
Completion: 10-15 years.
What it is: Comprehensive new town for 36,000 residents by 2025.
Includes Ormiston Town Centre, five neighbourhood centres, 14,000 homes, 600 new jobs, recreational and cultural/community facilities and linking "green finger" corridors.
Council owns 285ha, including much of the 18ha town centre zone which includes retail, commercial, residential and community facilities - aquatic centre and library/arts centre.
Project won Manukau City Council a gold award at the International Liveable Community Awards.
What has been done: 3000 homes built.
Barry Curtis Park, skate park, sports fields, the cultural lawn, pathways, stream bank planting and stormwater works.
Road upgrades, including Stancombe Rd, Flat Bush School Rd, Ormiston Rd including the town's gateway, Ormiston Bridge.
Four out of seven schools built, including Ormiston Senior College.
Phase 1 work on town centre started, including a supermarket and housing.
What remains to be done: Stage 1 is 80 per cent complete and Stage 2 is under development; Stage 3 needs overhead power lines relocated.
Completion of town centre, library and aquatic centre. Continued extension of water network to enable significant residential development.
A junior college and two primary schools.
Neighbourhood shops.
Development of Murphys Park and and buying more land for public open space.
Upgrade to southern part of Murphys Rd including a new link to Redoubt Rd.

- NZ Herald

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