Industrial area not a done deal

By: Louise Johnston

This is my second term on the Rodney Local Board. I represent the Dairy Flat subdivision, which includes Dairy Flat and Wainui – both areas that Hibiscus Matters covers.

I am passionate about ensuring that our area does not lose its rural character as it moves towards urbanisation.

I am determined that the planning for our future park at Green Road, Dairy Flat is completed. This 154ha of farmland has the potential to be the Cornwall Park of the Hibiscus Coast. As ratepayers we have owned this land for almost 20 years. In our area, we do not have footpaths, cycleways or bridle trails but fast cars, heavy trucks and deep culverts. As Aucklanders, we can access our regional farm parks for mountain biking, running and horse riding and Green Road should be no different.

Our area is changing, and many locals are not happy about it. They feel that Council is not listening to their concerns and feedback. Last week, Council adopted the structure plan for the Silverdale West, Dairy Flat industrial area. This planned industrial estate is going to be massive, at over 600ha. The structure plan does not rezone the land, but it is the first stage to enable urban development.

The industrial estate is to be released in three stages from 2022 to 2048. It is a bold call from Council to predict the needs of business for the next 30-40 years, especially given how technology is changing the way we live our lives and do business.

In the draft plan, many locals were concerned about the proposed heavy industrial area, South of Wilks Road. Heavy industry is large in scale but unlike other business zones it restricts several activities – such as cafés and childcare centres.  Unfortunately, this zoning allows businesses to produce objectionable odour, dust and noise emissions. Also, air quality emissions standards that are different to the rest of Auckland often apply in this zone. Not your ideal neighbour!  So, it is a welcome change that the final plan now includes the need for heavy industrial land to be reassessed prior to the rezoning of the land in Stage 2 (2038-2048). Cutting through the jargon, heavy industrial zoning is not a done deal yet.

The structure plan does have some positives, with proposed off-road cycling and pedestrian networks but these are not funded and are indicative only. The proposed riparian planting, landscape buffers and open spaces will help the area retain its rural character. But from previous experience, whether these are implemented successfully often depends on the developer. Likewise, there is very welcome transport infrastructure included such as the proposed new motorway interchange at Wilks Road (South facing only) and public transport provided by a rapid transport network. However, both projects are unfunded and with a cash strapped Council they may be decades away.

The next step is for the council-initiated Unitary Plan change for stage one (2022 to 2038) to be lodged. Unfortunately for the stage one development, key transport infrastructure is not likely to be included. This will put extra pressure on the already congested Silverdale motorway off ramp. 

The Unitary Plan change is a legal process under the Resource Management Act and there will be the opportunity for public submissions, an independent hearing and ultimately the right of appeal to the Environment Court.  At this stage, I am not sure when the plan change will be publicly notified but it is important to make sure that we provide feedback and help shape our area.

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