The first tranche of massive infrastructure work to unlock new growth areas in Cambridge will start before Christmas.
Waipā District Council is assessing tenders for physical works on critical water and wastewater infrastructure. The work, likely to cost between $6-8 million, will see water mains and wastewater pipes replaced and extended down Cambridge Rd, towards St Peter's School.
The increase to capacity and the upgrading of water and wastewater infrastructure, plus new stormwater infrastructure and roads are key to unlocking new growth areas in Cambridge east (growth cells C1, C2 and C3).
When complete, the developments will accommodate 2500 houses, a new 1000-pupil primary school and commercial areas, including a large supermarket.
Waipā Mayor Jim Mylchreest said the water and wastewater infrastructure is expected to take at least six months to complete and was a sign Cambridge was back on the move.
A further tender for specialist stormwater thrusting work will go out before Christmas, with earthworks planned for the coming summer.
In the meantime, the final planning work continues for the new intersection on Cambridge Rd near Te Awa. The form of intersection is yet to be determined but a contract is likely to be let in early 2021, with work completed by the end of next year.
All up, the combined works will cost around $50m. Local contractors will be encouraged to tender if they meet the required criteria.
Mylchreest said the infrastructure work would be welcomed by the wider region because it will provide job opportunities and security and would help rebuild confidence in the local economy.
"Cambridge is the highest-growth area in our district and while this work has been planned and budgeted for some time, it's always good to see physical work on the ground actually start. That's what makes it real for people," he said.
"People will be very pleased to see progress because it will provide confidence to the wider district that Waipā is continuing to move forward, despite the challenges posed by Covid-19."
Mylchreest said the council was working collaboratively with land developers around timing of the works and that some developers were already well advanced in terms of "getting work boots on the ground".
"I understand there's new infrastructure works west of Te Awa on Cambridge Rd due to start soon. That includes building connector roads and extending stormwater swales which are needed for the building of the new primary school," he said.
"Subdivison plans are also well advanced and it looks like new housing will be going in from 2022. So there is certainly a lot of economic activity happening and frankly, that's what we need right now."
Mylchreest confirmed his council has yet to hear back from central government on its application for a $74.3m, 10-year interest-free loan to help jump-start Cambridge's new growth areas.
"We're hopeful we will get a positive response to that application but we're not reliant on it. The work has always been planned and budgeted and if we are required to slow it down because of financial constraints, we will simply consider that at the time," he said.
"The reality is that any interest payable on loans raised by the council to finance the work is covered by developers, not by ratepayers.
"So there is every reason, particularly in this economic climate, for us to press ahead and that's exactly what we're doing."