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Jan. 27 / 2015
Major block: Traffic was backed up the length of Vipond Rd from Whangaparaoa Rd to Stanmore Bay after the fatal crash near Marellan Drive. Photo/ JAYBOREHAM

Plea ignored
John Watson Albany ward councillor Auckland Council

In light of the tragic accident on Whangaparaoa Rd, and the consequent gridlock, readers might be interested to know that the opportunity to provide an emergency access connection along this very section of road was ignored despite a strong plea on the grounds of public safety in the event of an accident or Civil Defence emergency.

The continued vulnerability of the Whangaparaoa Peninsula to car accidents and Civil Defencetype emergencies is unacceptable.

While the obvious solution is the construction of Penlink, the public should also know that in recent years departments of this council have chosen not to construct an emergency second access that was available.

Since 2006 the Rodney District Council had plans for an emergency access link to be constructed from the end of Matheson Rd through to Poplar Rd as a matter of some urgency.

This was deemed essential in order to provide alternative access to the Whangaparaoa Peninsula for emergency vehicles. This was critical for the safety of Whangaparaoa’s 30,000 plus residents.

The specific section of Whangaparaoa Rd from Marellen Drive through to Vipond Rd has long been identified as a serious point of vulnerability in the event of a major accident or Civil Defence type catastrophe.

This was because such an event on this particular section of the road would effectively cut off the entire peninsula to any form of vehicular access (including ambulances and fire engines).

At that stage the second access to the peninsula could have been provided with a relatively short and inexpensive section of roading.

In 2011 the section of land necessary to effect this link was for sale as a lifestyle block.

It was listed for $369,000 as a private sale.

For the first part of the potential link Watercare had already put a concrete right of way through to one of its pumping stations.

The head of Civil Defence for the new Auckland Council and Auckland Transport were informed of both the need to effect this emergency link and the availability of the land. As far as the purchase of the land went, it would have been close to a cost neutral exercise – once the relatively limited section of the property required for the access was subdivided off, the property could simply have been put back on the market with a view to recouping the purchase cost.

Given the present market this was obviously an advantageous time to be making such a purchase.

This purchase and work was not adjudged an important priority by the council departments and the land has subsequently been sold and built on.

After the January 15 gridlock on this very section of road an AT spokesman was quoted as saying in response to public complaints about the shut down of the entire peninsula that, ‘‘There’s a 200 seat ferry going at 8.45am which is a perfect option on a sunny day like today’’.

This comment shows how out of touch AT is with the important needs of local communities.

Such a response beggars belief – is he seriously suggesting that over 5000 motorists should all turn around and try and catch a 200 seat ferry at Gulf Harbour? As it happened the ferry captain was also caught up in the traffic.

The reality is that AT has no plan to deal with such circumstances if they arise again. The security of a second access would now seem to rest solely with an initiative from a private developer through Penlink.

Roading problems
Lorraine Sampson Silverdale – Abridged

Re roading issues.

When looking at a letter to the editor published during the first years of the Auckland Council it appears the same words can be written now.

[The letter asked what councillors were doing to help Silverdale as people in the area had great concerns over roading issues which were becoming even more important with the Silverdale Centre opening.] At least councillor John Watson is making an attempt to help Silverdale get issues sorted.

Most of the problems in our area are caused by Auckland Transport decisions.

Although the Hibiscus and Bays Local Board chairwoman Julia Parfitt and deputy chairman Greg Sayers have worked hard to help us, it appears their hands are tied and it is the councillors who can have more say.

After the tragic incident on Whangaparaoa Rd it is obvious that issues here need more forthright attention by our elected representatives.

We at Silverdale live in hope that more action will taken on roading issues which are affecting businesses. After all, Silverdale is the largest employment area of the Hibiscus Coast.

Get Penlink done
Bill Bell Whangaparaoa

It must be 12 years ago that I attended a meeting at the Leisure Centre and the then opposition National Party representatives stated that Penlink would happen if they became the Government.

Why do we need deaths to make it important? This is not a political rant.

I’ve actually voted for National, but come on – let’s get this done.

Need justified
Kevin Hyde Arkles Bay

The need for the Penlink road across the Weiti River from Stanmore Bay to the motorway has been shown to be justified as urgent.

There has been talk of this link since I have been on the Hibiscus Coast for at least the last 30 years.

With the development of more housing below Wade River Rd and the new supermarket at Stanmore Bay it cannot be delayed another 10 years.

If there is any hold up between Vipond Rd and Marellen Drive on Whangaparaoa Rd due to an accident or road works, then the peninsula is either isolated from Stanmore Bay or traffic is subjected to long delays with queues up to 5km long in either direction.

The sooner the link is completed the better.

Lack of action
Sue Barker Red Beach

I would like to register my concern about the lack of action on the PenlinkWeiti River crossing from Stillwater to Stanmore Bay.

I cannot understand why this was not done at least 10 years ago as it was badly needed back then.

But now it has got to the stage where Whangaparaoa Rd is extremely dangerous at times.

I have lived on the Hibiscus Coast for the past 28 years and was in real estate sales for 20 years until recently.

I have seen many changes and the population has increased considerably since 1987. I have lived in Stanmore Bay and Manly but moved to Red Beach in 2006, one of the reasons being that I didn’t like the busy Whangaparaoa Rd.

As you will be aware, there have been people killed on that road in the past and I cannot understand why the ‘‘powers that be’’ have not gone ahead with Penlink well before this.

I have spoken to a lot of people about it and they all seem to want it to go ahead and don’t mind having to pay a toll for the privilege. It would make financial sense to me to bundle it with the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway extension.

As I see it, there is still a lot of land out at Gulf Harbour and a crossing would make it easier to house more people out there.

It would also create a safer environment for people to get off the Hibiscus Coast in reasonable time if there was some sort of catastrophe. That alone is a very real possibility.

I would be keen to see Penlink as soon as possible.

See original article

Commuting patterns have changed remarkably in Auckland depending on the location of the workplace, according to a Statistics New Zealand report released earlier this month.

The above interactive map shows the change in commuting patterns for every suburb(area unit) in the country.

Mobile users can see the full-screen interactive map by clicking here.

Car use is still the predominant mode of commuting to work. Readers can switch between the layers of map using the options on upper right corner to see how this has changed since 2001.

The purpose of the interactive map is to help reveal changes in commuting patterns across the country.

Read the full Statistics NZ report – Commuting Patterns in Auckland:

For example, there appears to be an increase in the percentage of people using a private car to get to work in the areas of South Auckland.

Meanwhile, in Wellington, the use of public transport(bus, or train) is much higher than anywhere else in the country. Readers can see how this has changed in the city since 2001 by switching between the layers.

Another interesting pattern is the uptake of public transport in Auckland.

More than 1 in 4 people that worked in the CBD took public transport, compared with just under 1 in 12 people for the whole Auckland region, according to the Statistics NZ report.

The data for the maps is obtained from Statistics New Zealand’s 2013 census mesblock data set.

Please share your thoughts on the interactive map and the patterns it reveals.

NZ HeraldBy Harkanwal Singh

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Jan. 22 / 2015
Milwater marketing manager Warren Frogley
Fairway Bay project consultant Michael Webb-Speight

Opening:Millwater Central shopping centre is due to open next month.

THE ever-changing face of the Hibiscus Coast is under the knife again as developers make the most of the dry spell.

Heavy machinery is cutting away at several hillsides preparing for the planned sale of sections in the Millwater subdivision at Arran Point area next year.

Extensive work is being done to ensure the northeast outlook of properties is fully utilised, Millwater marketing manager Warren Frogley says.

‘‘It will take this year to get the ground work done, settled and shaped. Next year will be roading and services. It’s likely to be 2016 before any sections are on the market.’’ Around 1100 sections elsewhere in the greater Millwater development have already been sold with a further 350 to go online this year.

‘‘It’s going very well, we can’t keep up with the demand for land and houses,’’ sales and marketing manager Nick Hornby says.

Between 700 and 800 people are living in the suburb, with the Wainui Rd/ State Highway 1 interchange due to be completed in late April.

The Millwater Central shopping centre is opening in February. Other work under way includes:
❚ The Peninsula Golf Club in Red Beach where earthworks have started on stage one of the PLDL development that will turn the site into residential housing.

Aged-care company Metlifecare has put in an acquisition to buy five hectares of the development with a plan to build a $150 million retirement village.

The sale is subject to due diligence, resource consents and subdivision consent, expected to be confirmed by December. Metlifecare hopes to start construction in 2017 if conditions are met.

The village would feature a range of one, two and three-bedroom independent living options and care beds.

Planned community facilities include a swimming pool, gym, cafe and bowling green. Metlifecare owns Hibiscus Coast Village, also in Red Beach.

❚ Top Harbour’s Fairway Bay in Gulf Harbour is moving along with development works for 110 lots under way. Sixty-five titles have been released so far and 40 of those are sold. A further 39 lots have been sold to a builder.

‘‘We have got comprehensive plan approval for a further 139 lots. We will be completing engineering approvals over the next three months and ready to start that work in the next construction season,’’ Fairway Bay project consultant Michael Webb-Speight says.

The marina has been completed and is open. A bar is opening soon with a cafe already operational.

❚ Cabra Development’s Wade River Rd project has finished stage one with 42 titles due to be released early next month and 80 per cent already sold.

Sites range from 600 to 7000 square metres. Larger lots include a large portion of bush. Stage two is under construction with 86 titles due to be released at the end of the year.

‘‘People like the views and the north aspect, the vegetation and size of sites,’’ Cabra project and sales manager Duncan Unsworth says.

Cabra’s Orewa project on Grand Drive has 118 sites with earthworks started late last year. The first stage will be released mid to late this year.

Rodney MP Mark Mitchell says growth in the area needs to be carefully balanced.

‘‘It creates more opportunity and allows our retail sector to grow. But with that we also have to get our investment and the level of services and infrastructure right,’’ Mitchell says.

‘‘We need to look at what we need to invest in and where it needs to happen.
Hibiscus Coast is a great place to live and we can work at enhancing the quality of life here.’’ Cabra has finished stage one of a subdivision in Huapai where all 68 sites are sold. Most of stage two’s 55 sites have also sold and stage three’s 86 sites are due to be released later this year.

Rodney Times By CARALISE TRAYES

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Click on the image and check the original video

Families are flocking to a marina north of Auckland for a close encounter of a different kind.

Stingrays have a reputation for being deadly, but one Gulf Harbour resident appears to be anything but.

Brutus the stingray has become somewhat of a star attraction at Gulf Harbour Marina.
At nearly 1.5 metres wide he casts a fearsome shadow beneath the water, but this short-tailed stingray is a bit of a pussycat.

“If you give him a touch and a rub he certainly seems to appreciate it,” says Rex Smith of the Serious Fishing Company, which operates out of the Gulf Harbour.

He comes when called, loves to be petted, and even handfed.

Brutus has been visiting the harbour for more than 15 years. But Mr Smith, who runs fishing charters with wife Lynette, says it’s only in the past 18 months he’s started getting this friendly.

“There’s about eight or nine other stingrays here that feed but they don’t come up and be handfed. He’s certainly learned the benefits of being handfed, he gets all the goodies.”

And he’s certainly making a splash. Stingrays are commonly found in warmer waters off the North Island, but this kind of behaviour is very rare.

“It’s unusual, but they are fairly intelligent animals and they can learn to do anything that suits them,” says NIWA fisheries scientist Dr Malcolm Francis.

They have poisonous barbs, but Dr Francis says they’re pretty docile and only lash out if they feel threatened.

“As long as people aren’t trying to grab them or jump on them, they should be quite safe.”

Brutus isn’t the only attraction in the area; there are large kingfish and snapper too.

“What we’ve got here is very special and it needs to be looked after by the greater community, and it is fantastic seeing people on holiday coming down and enjoying nature at its best,” says Mr Smith.

The only sting in this fishy tale is the cost. Brutus has a healthy appetite, eating up to 6kg of squid and pilchards a day – at nearly $1000 a month – but Mr Smith reckons he’s worth it.

3 News By Lucy Warhurst

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FATAL CRASH: A woman has died following a two-car crash at Red Beach in Whangaparaoa. Photo / Juliet McGhieQUEUE: Motorists faced significant delays after a fatal crash in Whangaparaoa. Photo / Juliet McGhie

Commuters were trapped at Whangaparaoa north of Auckland for more than two hours this morning after a fatal accident shut the peninsula’s main road.

Motorists had been delayed following the 5.30am accident at Red Beach when police closed Whangaparaoa Rd while they investigated the two-car accident.

There were no diversions in place so nobody could leave or enter the area between Marellen Dr and Glenelg Rd until two city-bound lanes reopened at 8am. All lanes on the road re-opened shortly before 9am.

Police said a female had died and two people were taken to North Shore Hospital with serious injuries after the crash, and drivers faced significant delays as a result.

Auckland Transport earlier recommended motorists consider making alternative travel plans, such as taking the ferry.

“There’s a 200-seat ferry going at 8.45am which is a perfect option on a sunny day like today,” spokesman Mark Hannan said.

The Auckland police serious crash unit was investigating and next of kin were being advised.

A Whangaparaoa Rd resident who didn’t want to be named said a backlog of drivers had given up trying to drive to Auckland.
“People had turned around and gone back,” she said.

“I took my dogs for a walk on the beach just before 7am and when I came back 40 minutes later people were driving away.”

Another resident said the road was “notorious” and was problematic when there were crashes.

“There’s no [road] duplication so if anything happens it shuts the whole thing down,” he said.

“It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. It’s a notorious problem.”

From his home he could see traffic was moving west but motorists trying to get toward the peninsula were at a stand-still.

Bernard Taylor said the crash happened right outside his driveway.

“I’ve just had a look and it’s very messy – a head on crash,” he said.

See original article

Jan. 15 / 2015
A large cordon was in place around the crash site. Photo / Dan HinesPolice warned it could take some time before the road reopened. Photo / Dan Hines
A woman died and two people were seriously injured in an early morning crash that forced the closure of a main arterial route north of Auckland.

The 5.30am head-on collision on Whangaparaoa Road closed the road for more than two hours.

Police named the victim as Coral Jobsis, 23.

Emergency services needed the road closed while they were at the scene and while police investigated the crash.

Police said two people, a man and a woman, both aged 26, were taken to North Shore Hospital with serious injuries.

Whangaparaoa Peninsula residents were frustrated by the closure as residents faced long waits to get in and out of the peninsula.

The road was closed between Marellen Drive and Glenelg Road at Red Beach.

When one lane was reopened traffic was backed up more than 4km to the shopping plaza. At 90am, with the road reopened, traffic was crawling from Manly, 6km from the scene of the crash.

Red Beach resident Graeme Stokes had abandoned his car on Vipond Road and walked as far as he could, and said the queue of traffic went as far as the eye could see.

“When this road is closed we are land locked,” he said.

He said the crash would make many people very late for work.

He said Whangaparaoa Road was a known pinch point and traffic could be heavy, but he’s never seen completely grid-locked before.

Residents frustrated by road closure

Several residents said they were frustrated by the delay of the proposed Penlink connection from Whangaparaoa to the Hibiscus Coast Highway.

Many said the traffic delays experienced today wouldn’t have occurred if there had been an alternative route out of the peninsula.

One Whangaparaoa Peninsula resident said: “We have been waiting for the Penlink to happen for years. However, Len Brown has not obliged us up here on the coast. The population continues to grow and yet rate payers are not heard.”

Commuters heading to the city by car were encouraged to take the Gulf Harbour Ferry instead, but the ferry captain was reportedly caught up in the traffic jam and the departure was delayed.

The crash was a head-on collision and resulted in both cars and debris being spread across four lanes, police said.

Location caused difficulties – police

Police said that because of the location of the crash there was no option to allow traffic to be diverted around the scene via a footpath as there was a bank on one side and the road dropped down to a right-of-way street on the other side.

Three investigators from the Waitemata Police Serious Crash Unit were sent to examine and clear the scene as soon as it could be done, while ensuring an adequate scene examination to allow a crash investigation was carried out.

Fuel from the ruptured tank of one of the cars was spilt across a large part of the road and that had to be cleaned up by the Fire Service to ensure the road was safe to reopen.

“At this stage we’re not able to say what caused the crash, or give any possible indications as to what might have happened,” inspector Mark Fergus said.

“Our thoughts are with the Jobsis family, who have received the worst news possible this morning, and their welfare is our priority.”

By Sophie Ryan

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Dec. 02 / 2014

I have lived on the Hibiscus Coast 12 years.

When we first came here from West Auckland, it was a lovely place to move to.

Unfortunately, since the amalgamation of Auckland’s five councils into one supercity we have seen the services and maintenance of infrastructure that is the Auckland Council’s responsibility dwindle away.

It is now at the point where major money needs to be spent to bring roads and services up to a reasonable standard.

It appears to me that rates are being siphoned off and spent in South Auckland, Central Auckland or on the mayor’s train set, which residents from the Auckland Harbour Bridge north will not benefit from at all.

It now appears that the council has decided to put back major works such as Stage 2 of the Silverdale Park and Ride until 2026 – 11 years away.

The park and ride is already at capacity and the overflow is parking at the Silverdale rugby club. How long will it be before that is full? More building consents are being issued, but there is no money being spent on infrastructure, in particular roading.

If the council does not want to spend any money on this area, then stop issuing building permits.

Large subdivisions are going ahead in Millwater and Whangaparaoa. I believe the latter will be accommodating some 300 homes. That’s a minimum of 300 more cars on Whangaparaoa Rd.

Yet the council has once again deferred Penlink and widening of Whangaparaoa Rd from Red Beach to the Hibiscus Coast Highway.

I leave for work at 5.15am every morning.

When I first started this eight years ago there were not that many cars travelling at the same time. However, now there is a constant stream of traffic.

All people, like me, who have opted to start work early and finish early to avoid the traffic jams of trying to get off the peninsula.

Now you may say, why don’t you take the bus or ferry? The ferry won’t take me to where I work and the buses do not get me to where I work without causing great inconvenience. It is also still cheaper to take the car, but that’s not the main consideration. Until public transport takes people where they want to go when they want to go, it will not be fully used by Aucklanders.
Where is this going to end? We are almost ready to retire, but if things continue the way they are we will be unable to afford to stay in Auckland. It is getting just too expensive to live in both in financial terms and in the time it takes to get anywhere.

I have seen very little evidence of a unified stance from the councillors representing north and northwest Auckland to show that they have strongly pushed to support the Rodney area, which is declining in services and maintenance.

The best outcome I can see is to split this giant behemoth – one from the harbour bridge north and the other from the bridge south.

Len can continue to have his train set, and we will not be expected to contribute to this grand scheme that we really cannot afford.

If we believe in ‘user pays’ then make the areas that will benefit pay.

It is time that the people of the North Shore and Rodney areas stood up to be counted.

It is time that our representatives started actually representing us and it is time that we started looking for someone strong enough to lead us and guide us to split from this massive mistake that is Auckland If the rest of the country is sitting back and laughing at Auckland’s predicament – don’t.

It is only a matter of time before this is foisted on you and then you will be exactly where we were. Sure the system we had before was not perfect, but it was a hell of a lot better than what we have.

Come on Auckland – we need to stand up now.

See original article

Dec. 02 / 2014
Peninsula choke I amconcerned with the access and egress from the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.

Not only due to the amount of traffic now, but that land development and extra housing should not have been allowed by the Auckland Council until a solution to the mainly two lane roading in and out of the peninsula, which in an emergency would have dire consequences for the area.

The Hibiscus Coast does not seem to get the funding nor the attention to the roading and traffic problems from the Auckland Council.

For residents this is a top priority and our rates payments should be reflecting input from the council in this area.

It is beyond belief that the extra parking for the Silverdale bus station would also be deferred.

If the council wants traffic off the roads then this also should be a priority.

Thanks must go to the efforts of the developers of Fairway Bay for their assistance in getting the council to realise the necessity to improve the Gulf Harbour ferry service.

Perhaps subsidies could be given to regular commuters who have switched from roading to avail of this service.

So, on the one hand we read of cuts to necessary improvements in roading for the peninsula, then read the new council computer system has a blowout of up to $100 million.

I would suggest a Hibiscus Coast resident puts up his or her hand for the mayoral race very early.

We can all get behind the campaign and bring responsible governing for our region and Auckland as a whole.

More accountability has to be given for actions by the new super-city councillors and mayor.

We didn’t ask for this nor deserve to be swept under the carpet either.

See original article

Chinese billionaire Jiang Zhaobai, insert, is the new owner of the Hilton Hotel in Queenstown.

A Chinese billionaire behind the controversial buy-up of the Crafar dairy farms and Lochinver Station says New Zealanders have nothing to fear from his investments in the country.

Speaking to the Otago Daily Timesat a function in Queenstown yesterday, Shanghai Pengxin Group chairman Jiang Zhaobai said buying land was not his primary purpose, but only a means of producing high quality agricultural goods for export to China.

His companies would invest much more in improving the land than buying the land.

“Because of that investment, we can promote the agriculture industry, and bring more benefits to the farmers here.”
As well as buying the dairy farms and Lochinver Station, near Taupo, Shanghai Pengxin is the majority owner of dairy farm-owning company Synlait Farms. Another of Mr Jiang’s companies is behind a $550 million redevelopment plan for Gulf Harbour on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.

Accompanied by about 50 entrepreneurs from Shanghai, Mr Jiang was the guest of honour yesterday at a function to welcome him as new owner of the Hilton Queenstown.

Among the guests were Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden and many resort business and tourism leaders.

Mr Jiang said he chose to invest in New Zealand because it had a “very sound and transparent” business environment, and was the first country to sign a free trade agreement with China.

He saw himself as a “promoter and ambassador” for New Zealand in China and hoped New Zealanders would become more accepting of investment by Chinese companies.

“Ultimately, together we can create a win-win outcome for everyone.”

He had visited Queenstown many times.

“Queenstown is such a beautiful city and I want to get away from busy work as much as I can.”

See original article

Nov. 05 / 2014

Building boom: Mayor Len Brown pours concrete at the Fairway Bay Development. Top Harbour chief executive Sean Pan helps while Fairway Bay Development consultant Michael Webb-Speight, centre rear, is ready to step in if required.

A $100 billion national building boom is forecast during the next three years.

That includes developments throughout Rodney and the Hibiscus Coast.

It’s the biggest in decades, with a minimum 10 per cent increase in activity every year to 2017, reaching a value of $35 billion, Building and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith says. ‘‘We are looking at the longest sustained period of growth in construction activity in 40 years.’’ The latest findings in the second National Construction Pipeline report support similar projections made in the first in December.

The new report predicts slightly greater construction activity this year, and a lower peak in 2017 with the boom peaking later in Auckland in 2018.

‘‘Auckland shows the highest level of construction activity, accounting for more than one-third of the upcoming workload in terms of value,’’ Smith says.

Residential building is the driver, with the value expected to more than double between 2012 and 2017.

Smith says this affirms the success of the Government’s Housing Accord with the Auckland Council, where thousands of homes will be built in the next few years.

Key development areas include Millwater/Silverdale, Gulf Harbour, HuapaiKumeu, Riverhead and Hobsonville Pt.

Latest Statistics New Zealand figures show strong annual growth in the number of building consents with 24,046 issued across the country in the year to September 2014. This is a sixyear high, and reflects an increase of 22 per cent on the same period last year, Smith says.

Auckland’s building consents rate are at an eightyear high, with 7320 consents issued in the year to September 2014 – 30 per cent more than the previous year.

The National Construction Pipeline provides national and regional forecasts of activity for residential and non-residential building and construction by central and local government, as well as the private sector.

BUILDERS HAVE HIGH EXPECTATIONS

Millwater marketing manager Warren Frogley: One of New Zealand’s largest residential developments will have more than 3000 dwellings completed by about 2019, a mix of medium to high density housing.

It has been the stimulus for the Silverdale Retail Centre expansion including The Warehouse, Countdown and 36 other shops.

Millwater has also been central to improved amenities, such as UFB fibre internet, increased water service, parks and sports grounds, and new or improved infrastructure such as the State Highway 1/Wainui Rd interchange, due for completion early next year.

GJ Gardner Homes operations director Mike Fraser: Builders and tradesmen will benefit from this projected escalation in building activity. The flow down affect to all the local businesses and communities will be substantial as well.

There may be some challenges in terms of the availability of resources and suitably skilled trades staff to complete this work. But what a great problem to have when you compare it to not having enough work.

All GJ Gardner franchises throughout Auckland are extremely busy but are working to cope with this growing demand.

Cranston Homes managing director Blair Cranston: Predictions of increased activity need to be tempered with the construction industry’s ability and capability to produce at those increased levels. We are already confronted with a severe manpower and skills shortage. This shortage is harming productivity because construction firms are unable to start projects quickly and complete them in a timely manner.

Land availability will continue to be a challenge, and increasing costs to produce sections will drive prices up.

I have a deep concern that the residential sector is steadily pricing itself out of reach of our next generation of house buyers.

Fairway Bay project consultant Michael WebbSpeight: On the Whangaparaoa Peninsula there are 1000 homes being built in Fairway Bay and another 1000 homes between there and Red Beach. Constraints in the supply chain affecting timeframes and costs have already been noticed. We are seeing delays at key points. Engineering seems to have been an issue over the last six months, with up to six weeks taken to process relatively simple floor slab designs.

Shortages in key trades will undoubtedly cause issues within building projects. Fairway Bay has more than 30 homes in design or construction, and it will be eight months before some of those homes will be ready for families. Those purchasers buying now will have the benefit of avoiding the price increases that inevitably come with resource constraints.

Certified Builders Association Auckland board of directors’ Dave Whitehead: Now is the perfect time for young people to get into the industry. The changing landscape due to licensing and new contract laws require a new level of professionalism and organisation which, as an association, we happily embrace.

The boom and bust cycle continues to worry those in the industry but it is good to see the government is aware of this and endeavouring to overcome it.

It is important mistakes from the past are not repeated and that every build is a quality build. To achieve this it is important that we have trade qualified carpenters with the appropriate contracts, and guarantees/warranties/ insurances in place.

See original article

Singing sensations – Kiwi band Titanium performs at Gulf Harbour during the Wish House Street PartyKnock out The Bumper Balls were a big hit

DESPITE pouring rain, the Wish House Street Party went full steam ahead.

There was plenty of action packed into Pinecrest Drive, Fairway Bay, on Saturday afternoon with the World’s Tallest Inflatable Slide, entertainment, bouncy castles, games, face painting and food vendors.

The road had been closed for the party, ensuring it would be a safe family event.

Kiwi band Titanium signed autographs and belted out new single, Take Us Back to the 250 strong crowd.

The party celebrated the Wish House, a collaborative charity drive involving Barfoot& Thompson, GJ Gardner Homes NZ and Fairway Bay developer Top Harbour. The project has seen a house built in Fairway Bay by GJ Gardner.

The three bedroom home will be auctioned on November 8 by Barfoot& Thompson, with profits going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The proceeds will provide ‘‘a whole lot of wishes’’ for children with lifethreatening illnesses, MakeA-Wish chief executive Shane Gorst says.

“This house really is quite special,” GJ Gardner Rodney franchise owner Elaine Morley says.

“Not only will it raise important funds for an amazing charity, at the same time it will provide a family with a beautiful home.” Suburban Newspapers, publisher of the North Harbour News, is a supporter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation NZ.

See original article

Boy band: Titanium will be at the Wish House Street Party in Gulf Harbour on Saturday.

Six-member boy band Titanium sing their new single Take Us Back and sign autographs on Saturday at a free Wish House Street Party in Gulf Harbour.

The party from 3pm to 6pm at 89 Pinecrest Drive, Fairway Bay, has the street closed off for the family event which promotes the coming auction of a home for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The three double bedroom GJ Gardner home will be auctioned on November 8 by Barfoot& Thompson.

All sale profits go to the foundation to help make wishes come true for Kiwi children like Shakur van HofReid, 13, who officially opened the new home. Shakur, who has a form of Down syndrome called Trisomy 21 with a complex cardiac condition, was able to meet his favourite character SpongeBob SquarePants in Australia this year through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Other features at the street party include the World’s Tallest Inflatable Slide, the Sticky TV crew, entertainment, awesome prizes, bouncy castles, games, face painting, food vendors and more.

Suburban Newspapers, publisher of the Rodney Times, is a supporter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

See original article

Sep. 25 / 2014

Firstly, it is with some concern I read Michael WebbSpeight’s diatribe for the third week running grandstanding the benefits of Penlink.

Fancy that, he is a project consultant to Fairway Bay subdivision. Profit-driven do you think? How is it a local business interest can essentially advertise and push their barrow in letters to the editor? Secondly, I take offence to his suggestion that he is expounding the views of most on the peninsula. Not only is he a project consultant but also a mind reader.

I’ve heard Kawau is nice, Michael. How about subdividing that then ask for another bridge? I see through your veil of local concern.

Seriously. Michael Webb-Speight replies: Firstly, I take exception to the suggestion there is a veil involved.

I thought I had been clear on that from the start. We, as in Fairway Bay, have a clearly vested interest in advancing the Penlink project. This is a commercial venture – and hopefully there is profit involved.

The really nice thing is that our commercial interests happen to align with those of the community on the peninsula. Penlink will improve connectivity to Auckland, will reduce congestion at Silverdale, and increase property values.

That would be everyone’s property values, not just ours.

Secondly, I claim to expound the views of the majority because I have asked them about it. We received 1491 responses to our survey on Penlink earlier this year, with over 93 per cent supporting Penlink. This number of respondents represents 6.2 per cent of the usually resident population, or perhaps more significantly, 12.9 per cent of all households on the peninsula. That is a very large sample by any definition. I don’t think it’s mind reading – I think it is maths.

Finally, I’ve been to Kawau Island many times. It is one of my favourite places in the Hauraki Gulf, and I will continue to enjoy the trip by boat.

Fairway Bay is working with the Auckland Council to try and find a way to advance the Penlink project. We are doing this for the same reason that we invested a year into increasing the ferry services to Gulf Harbour. It makes good commercial sense. Like the ferry, we understand that Penlink is also in the interests of the wider community, which we see as a good thing.

So there you have it – no veils, cloaks or even mist.

In the immortal words of Flight of the Conchords – ‘‘it’s business time’’.

And you know I’m down to my socks when I tell you that it’s really time to get involved in the debate around Penlink.

The Auckland Council spent a year putting together a business case for Penlink.

I couldn’t believe it in March last year when they told me it would take until mid-2014 before the business case would be done. I suggested that by then (so far in the future as it was at the time) the information would be completely out of date.

When I told Rodney MP Mark Mitchell about that he agreed.

‘‘Ridiculous,’’ he said. Mark made a few calls, waved his magic wand, and lo and behold the business case was produced in November.

Brilliant.

Trouble is – no-one has yet seen it. Here we are almost a year later and there is no sign that Auckland Transport (AT) is ready to release the business case.

I wrote to Lester Levy and asked to speak to the AT board back in June. I’d been outraged at the lack of attention paid to our elected representatives at the previous meeting.

Accordingly, in front of the assembled board, I echoed the words of Hibiscus and Bays Local Board chairwoman Julia Parfitt, and called for the release of the business case. Levy said at that time that they were considering it, but there was a process involved.

Still waiting, we are.

Councillor John Watson called and said that there appears to be no money in any capital works budgets for Penlink any time soon. He also told me that he understood AT was now amenable to the release of the business case.

I’m interested in that because it might provide sufficient information for private investment to get involved in the funding and under the current hiatus council may be open to looking at alternative models.
Watson was suggesting the current time frame we can look forward to might be something like 2025.

Bollocks, I say.

I’m pretty confident that I reflect the views of most on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula when I say that it doesn’t matter how it’s funded, and I don’t care what the model is.

I don’t care how many lanes or what the toll scenario is, so long as the bridge gets built.
– Michael Webb-Speight is the project consultant for Fairway Bay, a Gulf Harbour residential subdivision

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Hearings on the Council’s proposed Unitary Plan are underway and among the submissions that will be considered by the Panel are several that involve local developments.

A number of companies, including Top Harbour, Highgate Business Park, WFH Properties and Kensington Park Holdings, have asked for significant changes to the various plans and rules that Council has proposed.

Both Millwater developer WFH Properties and Highgate Business Park in Silverdale North are seeking to amend staging requirements, which are generally put in place as part of resource consent to ensure infrastructure keeps pace with development. In Highgate Business Park, staging provisions refer specifically to restrictions prior to the construction of Penlink or the widening of Whangaparaoa Rd.

Among its submissions, Kensington Park Holdings has asked that Council not apply a dwelling cap to its Orewa subdivision – the cap was proposed in order “to ensure that development does not exceed infrastructure capacity and maintains the spacious character of the precinct”.

Density caps are also an issue in Gulf Harbour, where a maximum of 2913 dwellings is allowed. The latest census data shows that there are 936 occupied and 102 unoccupied dwellings in Gulf Harbour – a total of 1038.

The former Rodney District Council put the Gulf Harbour density cap in place with the aim of ensuring high quality development within infrastructure constraints but Top Harbour, developer of Hobbs Wharf and Fairway Bay, is seeking its removal via its submission to the proposed Unitary Plan.

At present Top Harbour is limited to its approved Masterplan of 1000 housing units.

Top Harbour development consultant Michael Webb Speight says that the cap is unworkable because it affects all land in Gulf Harbour, including sites yet to be developed. He says currently the number of dwellings is allocated to developers on “a first come, first served basis” and the concern is that land that is “last off the blocks” may end up unable to be developed if the cap has been reached.

“While the cap is expressed in the Unitary Plan as being necessary because of infrastructure capacities in the
area, such a cap does not apply anywhere else in Auckland,” Mr Webb Speight says. “Top Harbour is aware that infrastructure issues exist and is currently working with Watercare Services on wastewater capacity. “This isn’t an unusual situation – developers often have to address such constraints with improvement of public infrastructure.”

Albany Ward Councillor Wayne Walker says it is of immense concern that various developers are seeking to loosen restrictions that have been put in place for good reason.

He says the Gulf Harbour density cap was quite far-sighted in that it took into account an eventual fast ferry link with Auckland.

However he says what it did not allow for is the further intensification of development on Whangaparaoa Peninsula, which he says is reason enough for keeping the cap in place.

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Sep. 11 / 2014

The old saying about a week being a long time in politics is very true.

It seems like forever since ‘that book’ was published, amid much excitement among certain sectors of the media. Now it’s old news and the PM wants to move on.

You would have to wonder why anyone would be a politician. In her former life Judith Collins was a lawyer – a very good one.

Her clients valued her frank opinion and forthright way of dealing with issues.

I’ve been thinking we could do with someone with those skills on the Penlink front.

A champion.An advocate.

Someone who could really front the project in the world of politics. In search of that person I’ve been talking to the politicians in the Rodney electorate over the past couple of weeks.

The biggest surprise was a meeting at the Conservative Party’s head office. Straight down to business – despite me being half an hour late. Wish I had thought to blame it on the traffic at Silverdale.

‘‘Colin Craig is fully behind Penlink, and always has been,’’ chief executive officer Christine Rankin says.

I’d gone in there thinking I’d need to be careful around those famous earrings from years past.

Nothing.Naked lobes. With that she whipped out a pamphlet from three years ago with a younger, friendly looking Colin Craig pushing the Penlink campaign.

It left me thinking that there is merit in this idea. Let’s see which of the politicians in Rodney will promise to push Penlink if they form part of the next government.

The election isn’t far away and I reckon this is the ideal time to raise it as something of an issue.

Still, it will need your help. Yes, you guys – the 44.8 per cent who spend hours every weekday in long lines of traffic getting on and off the Whangaparaoa Rd.

‘‘What can I do?’’ you say.
‘‘Shout,’’ I say in reply. Shout a lot. Loudly.

Virtual shouting is pretty easy – go on line and email your favourite candidate. Go on Facebook and ‘‘like’’ stuff. Email the editor, call up Radio Live.

Seems to me that one thing we have learned over the last few weeks in the parallel world of politics, is it doesn’t have to be much to make a significant change.

We just need the words to be said by the right people to the right people.

That first lot of right people are you – the driving public living on the peninsula.

Now is the time to stand up and shout about this bridge.

– Michael Webb-Speight is the project consultant for Fairway Bay, a Gulf Harbour residential subdivision

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A strange thing happened yesterday. Fairway Bay chief executive officer Sean Pan told me that he is very encouraged by recent meetings regarding the Penlink project.

This is new and different.

Normally when I raise the topic of Penlink with Whangaparaoa Peninsula residents there is an involuntary response involving the rolling of eyes –with occasional gnashing of teeth.

In my role in the development of the land at Top Harbour, I’ve sat with Pan in a number of meetings on the subject over the last two weeks.

I’m inclined to feel encouraged about this – it has taken over a year to get some of those meetings, and all of a sudden there seems to be a willingness to discuss the matter.

As has been the case for many years with this project, rumours abound about progress or lack of it.
Fairway Bay has been in the fortunate position to receive some quality updates from a number of people who we think know what the story is.

At a meeting of the Auckland Transport Board in June I made a presentation that suggested the timing for a step forward is now.

We can clearly show that there is an explosion of growth on the peninsula – which is occurring now.

What this growth needs to move forward is the infrastructure to support it. The key part of this infrastructure is the alternative access offered by Penlink. This is well supported by traffic modelling data and by that all important field of public opinion.

Rodney MP Mark Mitchell has suggested the same thing. Rodney is absorbing a huge percentage of Auckland’s residential growth and needs the infrastructure.

That’s a really good start – and I’ve been assured from a number of fronts that central government is supportive. We need that support to translate into action.

What we learned at Fairway Bay in the ferry services campaign is that if we create a positive conversation about how things could happen, it opens pathways that can lead to great outcomes.

Penlink deserves your attention now.

Michael Webb-Speight is the project consultant for Fairway Bay, a Gulf Harbour residential subdivision.

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With Mark Mitchell, Rodney MP

Last year at a meeting in my office with Auckland Transport chief executive David Warburton, and NZTA representatives, an agreement was reached to update the Penlink business model. The reason for this request was that I felt the old business model was outdated and did not make a compelling case for private investment.

The new report was completed late last year, and I waited for it to be reported on, back through our local government representatives. When the report had still not been made available by June, I requested a briefing from Auckland Transport on the new findings. I was confident that, with the growth we had experienced in Rodney and the Hibiscus Coast over the last 24 months, combined with future growth projections, the case would clearly be made to bring the projected start date for Penlink forward.

It quickly became apparent at the briefing that this was not the case, and in fact indications were that Penlink’s start date was in risk of being pushed back.

The Mayor and I met in my office last month to discuss this.

In this meeting I requested that if there were to be deferral of any capital intensive projects, then it should be the Central Rail Link that is deferred, and not projects like Penlink.

I have spoken with our Local Government representatives and Councillors Penny Webster and John Watson, Local Board Chair Julia Parfitt, Deputy Chair Greg Sayers and Board member Janet Fitzgerald, who are supportive of this position.

I continue to work at both central and local government level to seek a positive result for us.

One thing I can assure you of, is that my position will not change over the fact that Penlink must be prioritised over the City Rail Link.

I acknowledge that the City Rail Link is seen as an integral part of an efficient public transport system for Auckland, but not at the expense of other critical regional investments such as Penlink.

Caption: Celebrating the increase in local ferry services are, from left, AT’s ferry senior account manager, Christine Mudford with Andrea Bevan and Michael Webb-Speight of Fairway Bay.

This week saw the launch of a new timetable for the Gulf Harbour ferry, with daily sailings in and out of Auckland city increasing from four to 12, starting on July 28.

While the new ferry sailings are not a trial, Auckland Transport has made it clear that patronage will be monitored and adjusted according to demand. It will undertake a full review after 12 months, at which time it is possible that sailings could be altered to reflect demand.

Among the residents expected to greet the new sailings with enthusiasm are Gold Card holders, who can travel free on the service after 9am. However, Hibiscus & Bays Local Board members are keen to see large numbers of residents use the service in order to secure its future. Obtaining those additional sailings has required lobbying and lengthy negotiations, as well as investment by Fairway Bay developer Top Harbour.

Parking is a key concern, with chair Julia Parfitt saying that it would be a shame to see the new service throttled by a lack of parking. Parking at the Hammerhead alongside the 360 Discovery terminal is limited and the car park is also popular with campervan travellers especially in summer. The local board has asked Auckland Transport to investigate this issue further.

Consultation on the new ferry timetable drew around 1000 responses – a total of 76 percent indicated they would use the ferry more than they do now. People also asked for weekend ferry sailings and carpooling options, as well as connecting buses.

AT will look at ways to facilitate carpooling for ferry users in the coming months. It says weekend sailings are not an option at present.

Currently the only bus connection is the 999 from Army Bay to Orewa, which meets the 5.30pm sailing, and this is likely to be the case for at least five months – a trial bus service to connect with the ferry from Whangaparaoa Plaza is part of the new network that is being consulted on at present, and that is unlikely to be implemented until early to mid-2015.

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A new Marina Construction has begun at Fairway Bay, Gulf Harbour and will see 44 new Marina berths big enough to hold large international cruising boats.

The Marina construction is the first phase of what will become the new Town Centre for Fairway Bay, in the location where the Hobbs Wharf market currently takes place.

Consultant for the developer of Fairway Bay, Michael Webb-Speight is looking forward to filling a gap in the cruising community. “ We’re excited to provide a new home in the pacific for cruising boats of up to 20 metres coming down out of the cyclone season area. We envisage that boats from all around the world will base themselves here over summer and create activity in our water space.”

With the recently announced increase in Ferrys between the City and Gulf Harbour, it is expected that the cruising community will embrace the clean clear environment of Gulf Harbour and it’s convenience to Auckland City commuting by Ferry.