Mixed reaction to Warkworth Structure Plan

Public consultation of the Draft Structure Plan

Auckland Council has received more than 200 submissions on its controversial draft Warkworth Structure Plan.

The plan will shape what Warkworth will look like in 30 years when its population is expected to swell to more than 25,000 people.

The plan envisages new and expanded industrial areas, residential areas, retail centres, parks, roads, walkways and cycleways.

Last month, the One Warkworth Business Association hosted a public meeting where its chair, Chris Murphy, and deputy chair Mark Macky blasted the plan for failing to reflect community aspirations.

However, Council principal planner Ryan Bradley says submissions are mixed, with a roughly even level of support for and opposition to land uses detailed in the draft plan.

Mr Bradley said planners were still preparing an Engagement Report, which will be released on the Council website later this month.

But a preliminary assessment of submissions shows support for the plan’s “green network” concept, which will exclude land around streams, wetlands and bush from development and instead rehabilitate it through revegetation initiatives.

Also supported was the emphasis on walking and cycling networks, and the retention of Morrison’s Orchard – a historic orchard on State Highway 1, just south of Warkworth, which potentially could become a visitor attraction and learning centre.  

Mr Bradley says there was a more mixed response to the location of low and high density housing and small retail/office centres.

Meanwhile, there was opposition to the amount and location of industrial land and requests for other types of employment zones – a major concern of the business association.

Other submitters sought changes to the sequencing and timing of development, while others asked for specific parcels of land to be rezoned and some submitted detailed development plans of their own.

Some submissions proposed various suggestions for Warkworth’s transport network, including proposals around a southern interchange for the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway, currently under construction.

Mr Bradley says some submitters had some misconceptions on the draft plan.

One was that it had failed to consider the existing Warkworth urban area. But Mr Bradley said the draft plan did in fact recognise the existing town and growth had been planned accordingly.

Other misconceptions were that the plan focused exclusively on developing industrial land to create employment and that it would deal with the detailed design of roads and intersections.

Mr Bradley says that on the contrary, the plan leaves room for other kinds of employment through the development of shops and offices. He says detailed design of roads was beyond the scope of the plan.

Mr Bradley says the plan will likely undergo changes in the wake of the submissions. He says already the draft plan has been heavily influenced by previous rounds of consultation.

This can be seen in such things as the siting of new industrial zones around existing industrial zones, and the location of small retail centres around the Matakana link road, around Valerie Close in the south and around Woodcocks Road in the west.

The plan is due to be considered by the Council’s Planning Committee on June 4, along with a report recommending adoption. However, the committee is not obliged to accept the recommendation and could ask for an alternative.   

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