The Property Council has welcomed the Government’s announcement to fund Auckland’s proposed City Rail Link two years earlier than initially planned.
Chief executive Connal Townsend says the announcement is a significant victory for Aucklanders.
“The CRL was initially outlined in the Auckland Plan, and we are pleased to see it move closer to being materialised. An underground rail link that connects to the wider network in Auckland has been debated for a century now,” he says.
“The CRL provides much needed certainty for planned and ongoing public and private sector projects, which will grow and regenerate the CBD. It sends a positive signal internationally and nationally that Auckland is open for business, after decades of significant underinvestment in its transport network,” Mr Townsend says.
The city’s population is projected to grow rapidly over the coming decades, putting unprecedented pressure on housing and infrastructure.
“We know that transport infrastructure is intrinsically linked to housing, and the two must be planned and delivered in conjunction.
“The CRL will provide additional capacity, network resilience, and service reliability to the existing network. It will also future-proof it and provide real time savings for people.
“It is critical to ensure the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (PAUP) aligns with transport network plans and allows a strategy that produces desirable and well-connected communities with access to amenities.”
The past 10 years has seen a deliberate approach to intensified residential development near public transport interchanges, with more than 1200 apartments built in Newmarket, Manukau, Kingsland, and New Lynn.
According to the 2013 Census, the total population of Aucklanders living within a kilometre of the rail network sat at about 330,000 — a substantial increase from 80,000 in 2006.
“These figures clearly demonstrate that if the PAUP enables greater intensification along the rail network, combined with the tangible time-savings of the CRL, more people will choose rail as their first choice of transport, alleviating congestion on our roads.
“This would allow greater mode choice, and even possibly reduce the need for expensive retrofitting of existing road networks to meet private vehicle and bus demand,” Mr Townsend says.
The Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) also says the earlier start is a positive development.
However, the pressure to deal with Auckland’s growth issues and unlock the city’s economic development potential has to be maintained,” according to chief executive Kim Campbell.
“Auckland, and New Zealand, needs to see central and local government working together to deliver better outcomes for the country’s largest commercial centre.
Prime Minister John Key outlined the Government’s commitment to a range of infrastructure initiatives in his recent “State of the Nation” speech.
“While the Prime Minister’s speech firmed up government’s willingness to support vital transport projects, we need to find other ways to harness global capital to allow future investment in infrastructure.
“This is vital if we want to continue building Auckland’s capability,” Mr Campbell says.
The Prime Minister confirmed that the Government considers the East-West Connection a project of national significance, and will streamline the consenting process to bring forward the start date on construction.
“This is good news for our road freight industry. It can’t come soon enough. We have advocated long and hard on behalf of our members to get traction on this project. We look forward to understanding the detail.
The Prime Minister also confirmed its funding for the main works component of the Central Rail Link, given the increasing demand for the service.
Mr Campbell says the work of Auckland Transport to grow patronage of the train network was commendable.
“The Government’s threshold of 20 million users will be reached well before the expected 2020 date. Therefore, the timetable for the completion of the business plan by the end of this year is excellent news for the development of downtown Auckland.”