In July 2019, Auckland Transport and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency confirmed an Indicative Strategic Transport Network for Auckland’s future growth areas – Warkworth, North Auckland, North West Auckland and South Auckland. More than 70 future projects are proposed including safety upgrades, new or upgraded public transport connections, walking and cycling links and roads or state highways.
Te Tupu Ngātahi Supporting Growth is responsible for ensuring the land needed to build and operate these future transport routes is protected ahead of construction.
Route protection is a planning process to identify and protect land for a future public work, such as a transport project. It occurs early in the life of the project.
Route protection is not intended to finalise the exact detail of the future transport project – this is refined during future stages. Usually an indicative design is developed and assessed to inform the “footprint” or space that requires legal protection. To enable flexibility, the protected land (protected route) will provide for a range of transport solutions including road, public transport and walking and cycling.
Route protection gives property owners, businesses and the community certainty on where transport routes will be located, which helps people make informed decisions about their land and its development. It guides future location choices for other essential community services such as recreational facilities, schools and hospitals. Once the land required for transport projects is protected, property owners can continue to use, own buy or sell their land right up until Auckland Transport and Waka Kotahi need the land for construction.
Once route protection is secured, future project stages include concept design, resource consent approvals, procurement, detailed design and construction. For some projects, the time between route protection and construction is short, but in other projects it can be some years before construction begins.
In the Supporting Growth Programme, routes are being protected for transport connections that will be required over the next 10 to 30 years. Some of these projects have confirmed funding for taking the next step into construction this decade through either the New Zealand Upgrade Programme or the Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP 2021–31) and the Auckland Regional Land Transport Plan (RLTP 2021–31). The rest of the projects will need to secure funding for construction at a later date.
Route protection is generally achieved either by formal statutory processes (e.g. a designation, or by changing zoning on land), or by direct agreements with landowners or developers to set aside part of their land.
In most cases for the Supporting Growth Programme, it is expected that route protection will be ultimately secured by way of a designation, although interim route protection may occur by other planning processes in the short term.
A designation is a provision in the Auckland Unitary Plan that allows a requiring authority (such as Waka Kotahi or Auckland Transport) to use the land for specified or route indicating where and how the land is likely to be used in the future, along with any restrictions or conditions that may apply.
To secure a designation, either Waka Kotahi or Auckland Transport will submit a Notice of Requirement (NoR) to designate land under the Resource Management Act (RMA) 1991.
Once confirmed through this process, the designation is included in the Auckland Unitary Plan.