Auckland Council has released a document that paints a picture of what Warkworth will look like when 25,000 to 30,000 people are living in the town.
The draft Warkworth Structure Plan envisages a range of intensified residential options, new and expanded industrial areas, walkway and cycleway networks, and a large local and intercity bus station in the vicinity of Valerie Close, south of Warkworth.
Around 1000ha surrounding the town are earmarked for development over the next 30 years. This will include 7500 new homes, new parks and sportsfields, new shopping centres, possibly two new primary schools, an expansion of secondary school options and new medical facilities.
Substantial areas for future employment (mostly industry, but also small areas for offices and retail) are identified. This is, according to the plan, to enable Warkworth to have the potential to be self-sufficient for local jobs and reduce the need for residents to commute to Auckland for work.
While the plan will guide future development, the authors say it has not been prepared in a vacuum, but builds on the existing town rather than creating a separate and distinct area. The vision is to create a town that retains its rural and natural character, is centred on the Mahurangi River, and has easy walking and cycling access.
Morrison’s orchard, on SH1 just south of Warkworth, is retained as a special feature, which may enable the operation to continue as a working orchard with additional complementary activities and public access through walking and cycling paths.
While the document acknowledges community aspirations for a multi-purpose sports facility and community pool, these initiatives are noted only as “other infrastructure” to be investigated and are given no set location.
The plan envisages a total of six retail centres, with the existing town centre continuing to be the main base for commercial, leisure, residential, tourist, cultural, community and civic services.
The plan also identifies potential for the existing town centre to expand up and out, largely through the nine hectares of mixed use zoning around the centre. This area is predominantly occupied by older housing stock that could be redeveloped into higher density residential and office/retail space.
Meanwhile, if the resource consent for the proposed Stockyard Falls large format retail development, near Summerset Village, lapses in 2021, the land will revert to light industry – making it very difficult to establish the centre on the land.
“If retail space does not materialise at Stockyard Falls, there would need to be provision for the consented amount of space to be made up elsewhere in Warkworth, in order to adequately meet future demand,” the plan states. “General business land on the corner of Hudson Road/SH1, owned by Foodstuffs, could potentially accommodate a large supermarket and one or two other large format retail stores (around 6000sqm gross floor area).”
Consultation closes on March 25 and the plan is scheduled to go to Council’s Planning Committee for adoption in June.
Where will the housing go?
The most significant residential density is located in the south. This is due to a combination of features in the south including flat land, the adjacent proposed local centre, a public transport interchange, an indicative sports park, a possible new school site, a new arterial route, and a potential motorway southern interchange (south facing ramps only).
The draft plan envisages providing 7500 new dwellings as follows:
• Large Lot zone (minimum 4000sqm) comprises 182ha of the study area to enable around 200-350 dwellings.
• Single House zone (minimum size 600sqm) comprises 336ha to enable around 2400 dwellings.
• Mixed Housing Suburban zone comprises 223ha to enable around 2800 dwellings.
• Mixed Housing Urban zone (typically up to three storeys in a variety of sizes and forms, including detached dwellings, terrace housing and low-rise apartments) comprises 117ha to enable around 1400 dwellings.
• Terrace housing and apartments comprises 17ha to enable around 400 dwellings.
A plan change for Warkworth North (324ha) is anticipated to be notified this year and operative (subject to appeals) by the end of 2021. Warkworth South (493ha) will come on-stream between 2028 to 2032.