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Waitematā Harbour Connections Feedback

Monday 1 May 2023

Waka Kotahi called for feedback on the Waitematā Harbour Connections project. We submitted the feedback below: 

Heart of the City (HOTC) is the business association for Auckland’s city centre, and we represent the interests of businesses and property owners. We are committed to the growth and success of the city centre as a vibrant, accessible, safe, and welcoming urban community.

The city centre is of regional importance. It contributes 20% of Auckland’s GDP and 7.5% of New Zealand’s GDP. One in 6.5 Auckland jobs are in the city centre, with more than 146,000 jobs and 36,000 residents, and it is earmarked for future growth. Significant public and private investment is expected to continue into the future, and its transformation is shaped in part by Auckland Council’s City Centre Master Plan (CCMP).

Given the city centre’s regional importance, and the need to ensure its ongoing success, we would like to ensure that the Waitemata Harbour Connections project elevates the consideration of the city centre through the business case development and options evaluation process. It is important to expressly evaluate significant implications (positive and negative) for the city centre (including Wynyard Quarter) when applying criteria and assessing each of the options.

Specifically in relation to this, we draw attention to the following points:

1. That the impact of place, including the impact on the Wynyard Quarter, an important Waterfront location – is evaluated, including how this is aligned with the intent set out in the City Centre Master Plan (CCMP) and the Waterfront Plan. For example, we have considerable reservation for any proposed bridge in the Wynyard Quarter - this would seem starkly at odds with fostering the Wynyard Quarter precinct development.

2. Accessibility: That there is a clear assessment of what these options would mean for city centre accessibility including improvements vs reductions in entry or exit gateways within the city centre.

3. Transport network efficiency – that options clearly evaluate the ability to separate/reduce non-city-centre oriented traffic from the same corridor as city-centre oriented trips.

3. Impact on city-centre amenity and development capacity is considered - including potential negative construction impacts on locations such as Wynyard/Westhaven, Victoria Park. For example it is important to understand urban realm impacts from loss of public open space or reduced development potential.

4. Economic and social benefits: We note the options vary in terms of how they connect the Devonport Peninsula or the areas on the North Shore to the west of SH1. The characteristics of those communities being better connected to the city centre offers different advantages to those communities as well as the city-centre. There needs to be a socio-economic assessment impact undertaken for both options.

Other Feedback:

  • Freight capacity/access: We would like to understand the supply change and freight strategy as this needs to be taken into consideration. However, we understand that freight capacity and access would be accommodated across all options. We want to understand what consideration is being given to the planned Council work to determine the future operation and use of the Ports of Auckland land.
  • Congestion Charging/Tolling: HOTC also seeks clarification on how any planned city centre congestion charging would work in conjunction with a new harbour crossing e.g. would new users of the tunnels/bridge be tolled? We appreciate this is early days but it’s a big factor for the city-centre if for example, city fringe development is incentivised relative to the city-centre, and we want to ensure that there is an integrated, joined up approach to developing Auckland’s transport network.