When my wife & I moved to the Whangaparaoa Peninsula at the end of 1982 the district council had plans drawn up for 6 lanes along the early part of the peninsula, narrowing as you went on. There was even the possibility of 8 lanes.
This year, there are 3 lanes for the first couple of hundred metres, with a spectacular light show for the direction-switching centre lane.
Through most of the period following World II until the early 1980s, the peninsula was dotted with baches, had a few camping grounds, and not much was new.
We bought a sturdy bach, added to it, and caught the bus to the city to work. My wife still uses the bus from the Silverdale park-&-ride. I swim in the sea while the morning commuter peak is at its worst, travel more often outside peak hours and, unfortunately, drive.
Penlink notion 30 years ago
As Wilkins & Davies began its plummet toward liquidation post-1987 crash, it began more urgent promotion of the Hobbs Bay land which it owned (now Gulf Harbour), including promoting the Penlink crossing of the Weiti River.
From one phone survey at that time, it appeared the bridge & road past Stillwater would cover zero distance and would also take no time to traverse. As the years went by, residential development continued and congestion naturally worsened, so the potential time saving steadily grew – the population now exceeds 30,000. One later development proposal at the marina was sought on the basis that Penlink would be built: the magnet was the much faster journey commuters would experience.
When engineering & design consultancy Holmes Group Ltd sought consent to develop the Peninsula golfcourse at the start of the peninsula (the role later taken over by Fletcher Residential Ltd), commissioners said it shouldn’t happen until alternative exits from the peninsula were created, specifically a southward motorway ramp at Millwater. That ramp opened 3 years ago. The Fletcher subdivision offers exits that don’t take traffic directly to the peninsula road, but for travellers to the city the natural path is through the same Hibiscus Coast Highway intersection all the peninsula traffic uses.
The journey between that peninsula-coast highway intersection and the motorway ramps at Silverdale is now littered with traffic light-controlled intersections, slowing all journeys – a natural consequence of building multiple retail centres along the route, especially a large supermarket near the motorway ramps.
You can argue that it makes no sense to continue piling more houses on to a peninsula which has only one entry point for travel beyond Red Beach, the suburb still on the mainland at the start of the peninsula. But that is to argue that people (like me) shouldn’t enjoy the coastal lifestyle the peninsula offers.
The questions then become: What kinds of housing are appropriate for an area that has one of the fastest growth rates in the country, and what sorts of access are appropriate?
Do we all need to live in separate houses? Probably not. That intensification has picked up recently along the Orewa beachfront, one beach beyond Red Beach up the coast from Whangaparaoa, there are apartments at the Gulf Harbour marina and new terraced housing is being built (in a dip without sea views) in a large subdivision at Stanmore Bay.
One of the first stories on this website, in early 2000, was about the by-then-former owner of the Whangaparaoa Plaza shopping centre, Philip Fava, being locked out of it by an investment partner. Mr Fava, always full of bright ideas, had intended to build a 10-storey apartment or office block on the former pub site adjoining the shopping plaza, looking down the coast to the North Shore & cbd from a peninsula ridgeline, at a time when America’s Cup fever was rising.
Instead, his lenders opted for a single-storey Warehouse store. Next door, the shopping centre is about to get a refurbish following the departure of a number of tenants to new space at Silverdale.
Single-storey retail developments waste spectacular views where more intensive development – which might include retail – would have long made sense.
A better view forward
The planning for such development would necessarily encompass a number of factors which tend to be parked in separate baskets – retail catchments, residential potential, work access, the ability to reduce commuter traffic by localising work, the provision of public transport (and improvement of it to meet a larger customer base).
Now, the imperative is to build access – within 10 years – to cope with current road congestion which can extend a 10-minute journey to 30 minutes and be part of extending a 30-minute journey to the cbd to 90 minutes.
The answer needs to be a range of near-future solutions, particularly the localising of work but, for commuters, transport options which don’t start by cluttering the peninsula exit with more one-occupant cars.
It can’t just be about a road & a bridge, which is what I see in the past & latest versions of ATAP (the Auckland transport alignment project between Auckland Council & the Government).
30 August 2013: Pertinent observations a highlight of Red Beach golfcourse conversion decision
3 January 2012: Council opts to notify golfcourse subdivision while local board wants it bought for reserve
2000: Fava escorted out of his old shopping centre
Attribution: This website’s files.