Sod Turning Day: Eastern Path and Southern Motorway

It’s sod turning day with two major projects officially kicking off.

Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr Shared Path

The most interesting of these is the start of stage 1 of the Glen Innes to Tamaki Dr Shared Path. When fully finished the path is bound to become one of the most iconic walking and cycling routes in Auckland – although it is going to have some stiff competition from the likes of Skypath and Seapath, The Westhaven Promenade and the Nelson St off-ramp.

Eastern Path Section 4

Construction of one Auckland’s biggest ever cycle projects is starting on Wednesday and will be marked by a sod-turning ceremony attended by the Minister of Transport and Mayor of Auckland.

The Glen Innes to Tamaki shared path is a 7.3km path for walking and cycling that starts in Merton Rd and follows the eastern rail line to Tamaki Drive at Hobson Bay. It will create one of the most scenic bike rides in Auckland and make walking and cycling into the city easier and more convenient for people living in communities throughout the inner eastern suburbs.

Following the eastern rail line, the shared path goes across Orakei Basin and comes out at Tamaki Dr where future cycle projects are planned.

The project will be constructed in four stages. It will completed in late 2018 with the first stage from Merton Rd to St Johns Rd set to open in late 2016.

After short speeches there will be a sod-turning ceremony. In addition to Minister Simon Bridges and Mayor Len Brown, the project team from NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Transport will be in attendance.


Below is the approximate timing of each of the four stages.

  • Section 1: Merton Road to St Johns Road – Late 2015 – late 2016.
  • Section 3: Orakei Basin boardwalk – Mid 2016 – mid 2017.
  • Section 2: St Johns Road to Orakei Basin – Late 2016 – late 2017.
  • Section 4: Orakei Basin to Tamaki Drive – Late 2017 – late 2018.

Sections of the Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive shared path 1


The herald has reported that in total is meant to cost around $40 million to construct and AT say it has the following features:

  • The path will be around four metres wide and constructed mostly in concrete. Timber boardwalks will be used for short water crossings such as Orakei Basin and concrete for longer structures such as the proposed Hobson Bay crossing. The path will be safe and convenient for use by people on foot or on bike.
  • Good lighting will extend hours of access, particularly during winter months.
  • The route’s geography is hilly in places, but the design of the path will keep gradients as low as possible.
  • The path design will link into local communities and the project will identify future links that could be built at a later date.
  • The path will connect communities with public transport along the route.

Other than above AT haven’t said much about improving local access which I think will be critical to getting the most out of the route. Unsurprisingly this was the biggest concern of those that submitted during consultation last year with 56.8% of submitters raising Insufficient access points / Feeder routes / Poor connectivity / Tamaki Drive shared path poor quality as something they disliked about the project. The next highest dislike was concerns about it being a shared path which was raised by 15.8% of submitters.

In the past I’ve seen a number of comments questioning the priority this project has been given. As I understand things the key reason this is happening now is that the path is using the designation originally created for the cancelled Eastern Motorway. That designation will lapse soon so it makes sense to get this done before that happens. I’ve also heard it suggested that the NZTA want to free up land they own around Glen Innes now it won’t be needed for a motorway.

Southern Motorway Works

Today Simon Bridges is also kicking off the $267 million project to widen the southern motorway between Manukau and Papakura as well as upgrade the Takanini interchange. There are some aspects of this project I do think will be valuable, such as improving the Takanini Interchange which I understand is a common location for crashes however I’m not convinced the entire project is critical at this time. Like the Glen Innes Shared Path this project is being done in four stages and is due to be complete around late 2018. The four stages are shown below.

Southern Corridor Stages

From the look of things some parts of this section of motorway haven’t been touched since it was first built. Here’s a shot of the Takanini Interchange and motorway to Papakura under construction from the early 1960’s

Southern Corridor History


Improving cycling in Glen Innes

One of the projects to get funding from the government’s Urban Cycleway Funding announcement is to improve cycling links to the Glen Innes train station. Unlike other projects from the UCF the project isn’t a set route but seems to be intended to create a network of routes linking not only the train station but also the town centre, schools and employment areas.

Auckland urbancycleways map 2015-18

Auckland Transport are now asking the public just what they think needs to be done to make cycling in Glen Innes better. This is quite different to the usual consultation done where they asking about some pre-prepared plans.


Glen Innes is set for a major upgrade with improvements planned for people getting around on bike and the local community is being asked what should be done.

Auckland Transport will be improving cycling links to the Glen Innes train station but also wants to know what else can be done in the area for people on bikes says Auckland Transport’s Walking and Cycling manager, Kathryn King.

“Glen Innes and the surrounding area will be developing in the coming years. We are planning for that growth by encouraging people to leave the car at home and instead walk, cycle or use public transport. Getting people walking and cycling to public transport connections is a key priority.  The people who live here know it best, so we are asking them to tell us what needs improving to get them on their bikes,” she says.

The local community is being asked to identify routes they would like to see improved for cycling. That will include routes to the train station but also how access can be improved to the town centre, parks, community facilities and the future Glen Innes to Tamaki shared path. This shared path, which starts at Merton Rd and follows the rail line all the way to Tamaki Drive, will connect communities and provide a direct route into the city for people on bikes.

People are also being asked if there are any particular problems for people cycling in the area that they would like to see addressed.

“We want to make it easier to cycle to the train station so people can get to where they want to go for work or study. That means improvements to the road corridor, but we are also looking at other improvements like bike parking,” adds Ms King.

The project is part of a $200 million, three year programme of cycle projects in Auckland to be delivered by AT, Auckland Council and the NZ Transport Agency. To get more people cycling and to reduce the number single occupancy vehicles on the road, the partners will focus on cycle projects to, and within the city centre, as well as links to major transport interchanges.

The investment is a joint initiative between Central and Local Government through the Urban Cycleways Programme.

For more details on the project or to send feedback online go to the project webpage Search: Glen Innes cycle improvements

The method of consultation is also new. AT have developed a mapping tool allowing people to drop a pin on a map and add a comment about it rather than having to try and explain details in a text box like we’ve had to in the past. This is a good step from AT. You do have to have to register to give feedback but you can do so using your twitter profile (if you have one).

Glen Innes Consultation Map

AT’s new cycle consultation tool

The consultation is open until Friday 6 November

Tamaki Transformation Strategic Framework Released

The Tamaki area is one with so much potential yet so far has failed to live up to that. There have long been talks about redeveloping the area and it seems that something might finally be about to happen. Almost a year ago the government and the Auckland Council formed an urban redevelopment company to oversee the transformation of the area. Today the company is released a draft strategic framework for how they plan to do this. The herald reported this morning.

Auckland’s low-income suburbs of Glen Innes, Pt England and Panmure will roughly double in population under a draft plan for more intensive housing to be unveiled today.

The urban “regeneration” project, which could add up to 6000 new homes to an existing 5050, is expected to be one of the first “special housing areas” with fast-tracked resource consent processes under a housing accord signed last month by Housing Minister Nick Smith and Auckland Mayor Len Brown.

The target of 6000, included in the accord, makes it the biggest housing development scheduled in Auckland and twice as big as the 3000-unit Hobsonville development.

It covers the area between West Tamaki Rd in the north and the Panmure Basin in the south, including 2880 Housing NZ homes, about 1160 owner-occupied houses and just over 1000 private rental properties.

The area covered in the Tamaki area is huge, to show the size of it and its relation to the city the transformation company have produced these maps

The Herald continues:

Unlike other developments, the draft Tamaki strategy also includes 11 other social, economic and environmental elements, as well as housing, designed to make the area more liveable despite doubling the population density.

The area is among Auckland’s most deprived, with a 2006 median income of only $20,000 and an employment rate of only 52 per cent, compared with 65 per cent across Auckland. Sole parents make up almost half the area’s families.

But the strategy sees opportunities for more jobs and training by attracting new businesses, redeveloping under-used land along the existing railway and encouraging training agencies such as Manukau Institute of Technology, Unitec and Te Wananga o Aotearoa to take over parts of Auckland University’s Tamaki campus, which the university plans to sell as it develops a new campus in Newmarket.

The strategy says private investors have expressed interest in redeveloping an area next to the railway line where containers are stored, including possibly reopening the former Tamaki station between Glen Innes and Panmure.

The plan proposes a mix across the redevelopment area of market and affordable housing, likely to be developed by private developers, community and iwi organisations.

I’ve said before that I’m not keen on the idea of reopening the Tamaki station, to me it is just too close to both Panmure and Glen Innes and I think it would be good to avoid turning the inner parts of the eastern line into a slow crawl like the inner western line is.

I have only read through a few parts of the document so far however like most things, it sounds good but will really come down to the implementation. For example the strategy talks about redeveloping housing to provide better quality dwellings and more housing choices but gives no firm indication as to just what that means i.e. I assume they mean a mix of dwellings from standalone houses through to terraced houses to apartments in the town centres but there isn’t really an indication of what mix they are aiming for. You can read the entire thing is here.

I think it’s also worth pointing out some of the history behind the area. It was one of the first post war suburbs built and was done so right at the start of our period of our auto dependency, at a time when cars were promoted as the future. Thinking that is highlighted so well in this video from 1960.

NZ On Screen

Do we need to re-open the Tamaki train station?

One of the proposals that is floating around at the moment and something that is being pushed fairly strongly by the  Maungakiekie-Tāmaki Local Board is the idea of a transit oriented development (TOD) at Tamaki centred around the re-opening of the Tamaki train station. This was also highlighted in the CCFAS supporting documents looking at large scale development that is being planned along the rail corridors. At first the idea makes some sense as the area is both fairly close to town thanks to the train line and is an old industrial area that has large lots and that is ripe for redevelopment. The map below shows the area that is being talked about for a TOD. The council/AT own the land in red due to the AMETI plans while the light orange is one single land holding.

Tamaki TOD Land

But while I like putting more people right next to the rail line, I think there is a major flaw with the idea an it is to do with the idea of reopening the Tamaki train station which is intended to be right in the centre of the development. The issue is its proximity to the two stations that would surround it, Panmure and Glen Innes as it would only be around 800m and 1.2km away respectively (to/from roughly the centre of the platforms. That may seem like a lot but for a rail system it is pretty close and means the trains start to lose some one of their big advantages over buses which is their speed. It means that the distances between stations in this section end up similar like the horribly slow inner western line stations and by my calculations such a station could slow down trains by as much 1½ minutes. That would affect anyone who used the trains from south of the station and while it might not sound like much, making savings of that level across a large number of people is what is often used to justify large transport projects like motorways. In effect there would have to be massive amounts of additional patronage to justify the addition of a station here.

Tamaki Station location

The proposed station would only be ~900m from Panmure and 1.3km from Glen Innes 

So what are the alternatives, well most people generally tend to be ok walking up to ~800m  if it means access to a really high quality PT option like a train station with frequent services and 800m from the northern end of Panmure is right smack in the middle of this proposed development. Further it would be a nice flat walk taking most people somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes depending on how fast they walked. Those with a bike could go even faster and cycle the journey to Panmure in just a couple of minutes, even at a leisurely pace and by my reading of the AMETI plans, dedicated cycle lanes are going in alongside the rail line/ new AMETI road.

AMETI walking and cycling improvements 

Perhaps the only redeeming feature is that it would also be the closest station for those living in Stonefields or in the older housing developments to the east of the area but even then most would probably still find it just as easy to get to either Panmure of Glen Innes as they would getting to this station. Building the station could also have other unforeseen consequences, in particular the neighbouring Orakei local board have been pushing to get another station added between Glen Innes and Meadowbank. AT have already dismissed that as being to costly with not enough patronage however this development could see them reignite that debate adding more political pressure on to AT. I think looking at the plans so far, it simply doesn’t seem worth it to put a station in here as the existing ones in the area already serve the potential development fairly well.

Tamaki Redevelopment

On issues normally of interest to this blog, transport and urban development, it seems that the government and the council are miles apart so it is pleasing to see them working together on at least the second of those issues. In an announcement today, they are forming a redevelopment company to focus the Tamaki area which includes Glen Innes, Point England and Panmure. Here are parts of the press release:

The Government and the Auckland Council signed a Heads of Agreement today to jointly form New Zealand’s first urban redevelopment company to transform Tâmaki (including Glen Innes, Point England and Panmure) in Auckland over the next 15-25 years.

Housing Minister Phil Heatley says that the jointly-owned Tâmaki Redevelopment Company (TRC) will bring together the right pubc and private partners, the right level of resource, authority and mandate to get results in Tâmaki. Similar companies have been successful internationally.

“The people of the Tâmaki community have td us they are keen to see the Tâmaki Transformation Programme vision that has been developed by the local community, together with central and local government partners during the foundation period, brought to fruition as quickly as possible. The new company will make that happen,” he said.

Work has been going on to examine how to transform Tâmaki into a thriving, prosperous, attractive and self-reant community.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown welcomes the partnership with Government and says the work in Tâmaki reflects what the council is working to achieve across Auckland through the recently-launched Auckland Plan.

“It is only through initiatives ke the transformation of Tâmaki that Auckland can become the world’s most veable city,” says the Mayor. “The people of Tâmaki have been waiting for this for a long time and this is a great project for the new Auckland to be getting on with. Many thanks are due to those who have contributed to the Tamaki Transformation project over several years.”

Mr Heatley says that, if successful, this redevelopment programme could be a blueprint for urban renewal elsewhere in the country.

“Successful transformation programmes overseas have brought together the local community, government, business, education, social agencies, developers and financiers in claboration to achieve a common vision.

“Tâmaki is a key growth area for Auckland and its future prosperity will have a flow-on effect for the rest of the country.  The new company will ensure a co-ordinated approach to create measurable improvement across four key components over time.”

A social component will support Tâmaki residents and their famies in getting the skills, knowledge and employment opportunities they need. An economic component will strengthen the local economy, creating new jobs and business opportunities.

A housing component will optimise land use and existing housing stock, including progressing private housing development and devering better social housing options in Tâmaki.

Meanwhile, a spatial component will create safe and connected neighbourhoods and spaces that support the social and economic development of Tâmaki and its community.

The first task for the new company will be to bring all the current and future initiatives and projects together into a single strategic framework. This will include catalyst projects to improve education, employment, health, environment, and safety. The Crown and the Council will approve the over-arching plan and business cases before full transformation projects start.

The TRC will lead the transformation, undertaking some projects itself, procuring devery of other projects, and influencing the direction of others.

The jointly owned company is a new structure for the Government and the Council. Res and responsibities have been defined in the Heads of Agreement signed today.

The new company will have a board of up to seven directors to allow for a wide range of skills.  A comprehensive appointment process for the full board is under way.

The Chief Executive Officer-designate of the new company is Debra Lawson, who will take up the position on 3 September. She has over 20 years’ experience as a chief executive in organisations devering affordable homes and social infrastructure in the United Kingdom.

She has worked at the leading edge of pubc private partnership initiatives, devering large-scale and complex urban regeneration programmes within the diverse communities of South London, with a strong focus on accountabity to local people.

The TRC will be based in offices in the Glen Innes area.

For further information:

This is a positive step, not just for government/council relations but also for Auckland. Many of these areas don’t have the best reputation and are run down with the houses well past use by date as a lot of the houses were build quickly and cheaply in the boom years of the 50’s and 60’s. There is also a huge amount of land that is currently wasted on that could be put to much better use as you can see in the image below. 

 There is I imagine a lot of work to go on before we start seeing any final plans but there is such a huge opportunity here for for the council to develop and showcase its plans for high quality, less car dependant, more dense and more liveable city. I also hope that there is a wider focus than just housing, I’m sure there are a number of ways that transport linkages could be vastly improved. Further with large parts of the area fairly flat it could perhaps be an ideal opportunity to develop some best practice cycling infrastructure to link into the nearby town centres and train stations.

Also here is a video from talking to Phil Heatley about the plan.