Bus passengers on the Hibiscus Coast will be make transport history this weekend, on October 18, when they become the first to ride on the new bus network for Auckland.
Auckland Transport Metro general manager Mark Lambert says it is a bold step to re-design a bus network from the ground up.
Mr Lambert says that for the Hibiscus Coast, the new service will deliver improvements to frequency and access, promising to cut up to 30 minutes off a journey from Silverdale to the city centre or North Shore in off-peak times.
Local buses will run twice as often between Whangaparaoa and Orewa. There will be a new service for Millwater, and new trial services for Arkles Bay and to the Gulf Harbour ferry and Shakespear Regional Park.
Local buses will connect with the Northern Express at the Hibiscus Coast Bus Station and Park and Ride.
Transfers will be timed to connect through a ‘pulse’ network, where buses are scheduled to arrive together and then all depart at the same time. This will allow passengers to transfer between services with a short waiting time.
The building of the station and a final 274 carparks is due to begin next Spring.
Until the new station is built, the pulse network will operate from the interim bus stops at the Hibiscus Coast Station on Painton Rd.
Information about the new service will be available at a series of local events. These will be held at the Orewa Library on Tuesday October 13, from 10am to 1pm; at the Whangaparaoa Library and The Plaza on Thursday October 15, 10am to 1pm; and Silverdale Village and Silverdale Centre on Friday October 16, from 10am to 1pm.
The AmBUSador (the New Network bus) will be parked outside the Silverdale Centre.
On October 18, as well as the days following, AT Ambassadors will be around the Hibiscus Coast to assist people with navigating the new services. The new bus timetables have been mailed to all households, and information posters are up at key bus stops.
Detailed information about the new routes and timetables are available atAT.govt.nz/better.
Bus services manager Brendon Main says the New Network has been designed to provide attractive transport options for a wide range of people, and a large variety of activities.
“As well as running frequent buses at peak times for commuters, we’re improving services throughout the day and on weekends, to cater for shopping, personal or social trips. We encourage people to find out about how the New Network could work for them and give it a go,” Mr Main says.
Until Simplified Zone Fares are introduced next year, some trips will incur an additional cost, unless travelling with a monthly pass. AT says, once implemented, Simplified Zone Fares will remove any additional cost of transferring and reduce the price for longer trips.
Is it working?
Making substantial changes to local bus timetables has involved a lot of work for AT, including public consultation and protracted negotiations with bus companies.
It is only worth it if this makes life easier for the travelling public.
Once this new service is underway, bus users are welcome to comment on how it’s working via Hibiscus Matters’ website or Facebook page.
The thorough questioning by the commissioners as they assessed the effects of 4-laning Penlink during the submissions process, at the hearing on September 22-24, was impressive.
The spokesman for the 830 hectare Weiti Block sought accesses off Penlink to the proposed two new beach front towns, where sections valued at $70 million have apparently recently been sold.
Being only 25 minutes from the city and adjacent to superb white sand beaches, Weiti Bay’s development will be rapid after the Millwater and Long Bay subdivisions are full, and Penlink has been completed.
The Dairy Flat motorway interchange is urgently required to provide access for Penlink and the Weiti Block, to stimulate growth in the Dairy Flat/Redvale area and to provide an alternative route via East Coast Bays Rd. It’s also to reduce traffic congestion on the Hibiscus Coast Highway.
An accident there on September 24 had Red Beach streets gridlocked, traffic stationary at the Red Beach Rd traffic lights and Vipond Rd lights. It was still queuing 14kms back along Whangaparaoa Rd in Manly, at 9.30am. Hibiscus Highway traffic modelling has recently degraded the Level of Service (LOS) on that arterial route from D to E for 2016. This adversely affects consent conditions for the development of the Silverdale North business district. About 40 to 50 vehicles quickly pass through the Red Beach Rd traffic lights each morning at each phase, pre-peak time. Because those 50 vehicles cannot pass directly through the free left turn bottleneck into the Hibiscus Coast Highway every five minutes during peak time, queues on Whangaparaoa Rd lengthen and can take two or three hours to clear. The proposed four-laning of Whangaparaoa Rd will not fix this bottleneck into the highway.
By 2021 traffic congestion will make the Hibiscus Coast Highway and Whangaparaoa Rd arterial routes costly, frustrating, dangerous and problematical for all road users. This will adversely affect growth and confidence in the whole area.
Penlink has a benefit/cost ratio of 3.9 out of a possible four points, plus a strong business case.
Obviously expediting the construction of Penlink to enable the diversion of Whangaparaoa’s traffic away onto Penlink is the only cost effective, long-term solution to fix Whangaparaoa and Silverdale’s growth and traffic pollution issues.
Beverley McLeod Red Beach
Auckland Transport has told planning commissioners it needs to double the width of a proposed highway to Whangaparaoa Peninsula – despite having no immediate funding for the $387 million project.
Although the long-envisaged Penlink scheme fell out of Auckland Council’s 10-year budget, its transport agency still hopes to attract private investors within that time-frame to develop it as a tolled shortcut to the peninsula from the Northern Motorway at Redvale, via a bridge over the Weiti River and Stillwater.
The organisation said at the opening of a hearing in Orewa yesterday that it need to develop the 7km highway as a four-lane tolled road to ease severe traffic congestion along the peninsula and cater for population growth through a wider catchment including Silverdale and Dairy Flat.
It wants to include in the project a bridge 540m long and 40m above the Weiti River.
A designation for a two-lane highway and three-lane bridge was issued in 2001, but expires in February unless the four-member hearings panel approves an application to extend it for 20 years and add what Auckland Transport says are small areas of land.
The Hibiscus and Bays Local Board shared the disappointment of many Whangaparaoa residents when Auckland Council dropped the project from its long-term plan, but opponents say it is too grandiose for an area which has already been largely developed and fear it will harm sensitive ecology on both sides of the river.
Even Auckland Transport’s landscape architect consultant, Shannon Bray, acknowledges in evidence prepared for the three-day hearing that the bridge “will fundamentally affect the character of the Stillwater area” and become a prominent visible feature above the Weiti estuary.
But he says that the original design was approved after extensive community consultation, and adding another lane with 2.5m shoulders for cyclists will have little extra visual impact.
Project director Theunis van Schalkwyk told the hearing that many Hibiscus Coast, Silverdale and Redvale residents relied on daily trips out of the area for work.
An Auckland Transport business case in 2013 said 30,000 vehicles used the largely two-lane Whangaparaoa Rd daily.
Putting the cost of a four-lane highway at $387.5 million, it estimated total lifetime benefits at $743 million and warned of peak-hour trips from Whangaparaoa to Redvale lengthening from 20 minutes to more than 55 minutes by 2041 without the new link.
Mr van Schalkwyk said the project would also ease congestion along the Hibiscus Coast highway.
Even so, opponents who made submissions for the hearing have outnumbered supporters two to one.
They include 13 residents of Cedar Terrace just below where the new highway would join Whangaparaoa Rd, who submitted there was limited bare land left for housing on the peninsula east of them and the two-lane road already designated would cater for any extra growth.
-By Mathew Dearnaley, NZ Herald
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Work is due to start next month on a new 67-lot residential subdivision at Fairway Bay, Gulf Harbour near Whangaparaoa. Michael Webb-Speight, a development consultant on the project, said 25 sections had already been marketed and 10 per cent deposits would soon be paid on five of those properties.
The 325sq m to 705sq m sites are selling from $319,000 up to $419,000, he said. The land subdivision is by Chinese-owned Top Harbour and the sites are within about 200m of the waterfront, off Pinecrest Dr and The Anchorage.
The latest subdivision is called Fairway Bay Resolution, near Fairway Bay Discovery, where 65 of a proposed 79 residential lots have been created. Of those 65, deposits have been taken on 55 lots, Webb-Speight said, and many houses are rising there.
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Demonstrating his commitment to an integrated public transport plan, Mayor Len Brown took time out of his busy schedule to address ferry commuters on the 4:45pm service to Gulf Harbour on Tuesday, 18 August.
On board it wasn’t quite business as usual, the Mayor took responsibility for the safety briefing, adding a few more words from the control room. Thereafter, commuters enjoyed the opportunity to voice any concerns or raise issues directly with the Mayor, all of which were well received.
Having experienced the service first-hand, Mayor Brown acknowledged the opportunity for terminal and ferry improvements to both increase capacity and comfort for those travelling between Gulf Harbour and the city.
Noting that the 2013 increase to 12 sailings a day boosted commuter numbers by more than 115 per cent, Mayor Brown had some encouraging views to share.
“It is the greatest way to travel to work on the planet [and] with the ongoing demand, I’m sure there will be more sailings and bigger, faster boats in the future,” said Mayor Brown.
Fairway Bay development consultant Michael Webb-Speight said the Mayor’s enthusiasm and support bodes well for the development of Gulf Harbour and surrounding suburbs.
“With increased sailings and larger boats, combined with improvements to terminal and dock services, the appeal of Gulf Harbour is within reach of more people working in the CBD. With ferries as part of the integrated transport plan, getting the city moving has never looked so good.”
Issued on behalf of Top Harbour by PR Republic.
Public transport use is up, with Gulf Harbour ferry services patronage jumping 115 per cent.
And more is being invested in Auckland’s network.
Northern express bus service use has risen 17.2 per cent and other bus services 6.6 per cent during the past year.
Rail patronage has climbed 21.7 per cent, Auckland mayor Len Brown saying that means the patronage target set by the government for funding the City Rail Link (CRL) will be achieved three years ahead of schedule.
Auckland’s strong growth in public transport figures for June, just released by Auckland Transport, indicates the Government’s target of 20 million passenger rail trips annually will be reached in 2017, he says.
The latest survey shows 78,106 people coming into the city in the morning peak. Some 45 per cent used public transport while 41 per cent drove.
“These are extraordinary numbers and dispel the myth you can’t get Aucklanders out of their cars,” Brown says.
He says it emphasises the urgency to get on with the CRL before train service capacity is reached by 2016.
Meanwhile, a $4.2 billion partnership in Auckland transport over the next three years has been announced by the NZ Transport Agency.
That includes $1.75b for public transport, $960m for state highways and $91m for cycling and walking.
About $48m is earmarked for the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway.
Spectacular growth on Gulf Harbour ferry services is leading to a push for further improvements.
“We have a contract review due in July, being the end of the first year of the new timetable,” Fairway Bay development consultant Michael Webb Speight says.
“We are actively encouraging Auckland Transport to consider all of the factors which are limiting further growth, and to provide solutions to these issues.” These issues include carparking, frequency of sailings, capacity of vessels and facilities at the terminals.
Auckland Transport has already announced a new bus timetable due to start later this year and provide interconnection to the ferries.
Ferry terminal upgrades are planned from September.
The six return sailings each weekday were based on an expectation that passenger growth of about 20 per cent would be achieved over the first year. With actual growth in the order of 120 per cent over the first 10 months of the new timetable, there are a number of issues that have become apparent to frequent users of the service, Webb-Speight says.
Fairway Bay is running a survey on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula asking residents what time they would prefer to catch the ferry.
“The main information gap we have is to understand the needs of those who do not presently catch the ferry,” he says.
“Of the possible variables we think that the most important factor is likely to be the timetable.”
❚ Visit fairwaybay.co.nz for the survey.
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Ways to improve ferry services between Gulf Harbour and Auckland continue to be sought.
Fairway Bay developers in Gulf Harbour are still fighting for improved ferry services and are now asking for increased schedules with 30 minute peak frequency and 60 minutes off-peak.
Developer Top Harbour Ltd is surveying existing and potential ferry patrons during the next fortnight about ferry sailing times they prefer.
It has made a submission to the Auckland Regional Public Transport Plan urging that the Whangaparaoa Peninsula’s growth and passenger demands be taken more into account.
It also suggests its agreement with Auckland Transport on ferry services could be used as a basis for partnership models in other parts of the public transport network.
❚ The survey, offering an annual Gulf Harbour ferry pass as an incentive.
Prepared by Michael Webb-Speight, on behalf of Top Harbour Limited – Developer of Fairway Bay,
1. THL is a unique stakeholder
In May 2014 THL entered into an agreement with Auckland Transport to subsidise the introduction of additional ferry services to Gulf Harbour. THL will contribute a total of $XXX,000 (incl GST) over 2 years. It is our understanding that THL is the only private organisation contributing to a public transport subsidy in Auckland. Accordingly THL considers it is a unique stakeholder in the process of future planning for the Ferry Services to Gulf Harbour.
Up until July 2014 there were 2 return trips per day, and an average patronage of 5250pax/month.
No services were met with bus connections. The new timetable commenced on 31 July 2014 and offered 6 return trips per day. The patronage has climbed to an average of 13,000 passengers per month (March / April / May) and is expected to continue to grow rapidly, subject to limiting factors such as vessel capacity, parking and frequency. There is a single bus feeder service to one sailing, but this sometimes doesn’t stop at the GH ferry terminal.
The agreement between THL and AT provides for a review of services in July 2015. As part of that review THL is seeking an increase in scheduled services.
THL submits that the SoP is amended to immediately increase the scheduled services to Gulf Harbour to 30 minute frequency during peak times and 60 minute frequency off-peak.
2. Base assumptions used for growth modelling are incorrect.
The RPTP Statement of Proposal (SoP) seeks to amend the Ferry Development Plan (FDP) approved by the AT Board in December 2014. The amendments provide for additional sailings, integrated bus connections and the development of the terminals in accordance with the objectives in the RPTP.
In relation to Gulf Harbour the SoP states that ferry services at peak times will be at 30 minute intervals, however it does not propose the necessary increase in scheduled services and investment in infrastructure to achieve this, nor does it set out the timeframes for introduction of these services.
The main reason for this appears to be an incorrect assumption in relation to the growth of ferry patronage from Gulf Harbour. The modelled future demand assumptions used in the FDP are based on the Auckland Plan Medium Growth Scenario.
In Figure 1 below is an extract from the FDP, and were prepared on the basis of the existing 6 return ferry sailings. The table indicates AM peak boarding as being 141pax, growing to 203pax in 2026 and 280pax in 2046.
By contrast, the actual current AM Peak (May 2015) for Gulf Harbour is 240pax, with total patronage having grown more than 100% over the last 9 months.
In other words at Gulf Harbour we are already close to exceeding the projected patronage for 30 years from now.
This incorrect assumption is reflected in other aspects of the FDP – for example development of the terminal at Gulf Harbour has a total of $28,000 planned expenditure (somewhat less than Rakino), and Table 2 below shows no additional commuter sailings planned to be introduced in the next 10 years. This assumption also incorrectly informs other aspects such as the bus connectivity changes proposed in the SoP.
THL submits that the growth assumptions used in modelling public transport for Whangaparaoa are incorrect, and should be modified and updated to include what is actually happening in the area.
3. Comparison with similar locations – Pine Harbour catchment vs services provided
Comparison with a similar destination such as Pine Harbour appears warranted, given the geographic and socio-economic similarities. Both destinations are undergoing considerable residential development, are poorly serviced by land based public transport, and have long commute times to the CBD.
At present Pine Harbour has 15 return ferry trips per day versus Gulf Harbour 6 return trips.
By any measurement, Gulf Harbour appears to have been left out of the FDP programme. We can find no rational explanation for why this has been in the past, and even less for why the Ferry Development Plan does not seek to address it.
THL owns 30ha of residentially zoned development land at Gulf Harbour with approximately 1000 HHU’s planned over the next 5- 8 years. THL is proceeding to develop the land as fast as the consent processes will allow, and has generated more than 130 lots over the last 2 years. In addition to this there are approximately 1000 HHU’s in the immediate vicinity that THL does not own, many of which have been built on and sold since THL purchased the land. It is noted that the growth in patronage is entirely derived from the existing households in the area, rather than from the new homes which THL are creating. Patronage from new home construction is only just now beginning to come on stream.
THL submits that the SoP and the FDP should be amended to provide Gulf Harbour with similar services and future growth as planned for Pine Harbour.
4. Increase in ferry patronage to Gulf Harbour – the best good news story in public transport
At a time when AT is seeking to actively grow patronage across the PT network, a trial introduction of the additional sailings to Gulf Harbour Ferry producing an increase of over 100% in patronage is a fantastic good news story. The fact that it has been achieved in partnership with private business interests suggests that it may be worth considering as a model for other sectors of the PT network.
The investment by THL in the Gulf Harbour Ferry Service has been worthwhile marketing exercise from a branding perspective, and has changed the way in which the local community considers both Gulf Harbour and Chinese investment in New Zealand. THL continues to actively promote the ferry services as a way of differentiating its residential development from other housing developments. It is noted that the growth of the ferry service in terms of frequency and capacity to meet the needs of the local community is critical to maintaining ongoing enthusiasm for the scheme from THL shareholders.
THL submits that the agreement between THL and AT could be used as a model for partnership with private business interests in other sectors of the PT network.
5. Timing of additional services
As outlined above the agreement between AT and THL is due for review in July. THL has attempted to engage with AT since May seeking additional ferry sailing times. To date we have received an assurance that the ferry services will not be reduced as a result of the review, and some additional capacity has been brought on to cover the busiest sailings, but we have received no indication that any additional sailings are being considered.
The additional services outlined in table 2 above suggest that unless the FDP is amended there will be no additional sailings introduced prior to 2025.
THL submits that Table 2 should be amended to show at least 15 sailings Mon-Fri to be introduced in 2015.
6. Limitations to Growth
During the discussions regarding the agreement between AT and THL a number of limitations to growth were identified. These limitations include:
• Frequency of sailings
• Availability of inside seating
• Availability of parking
• Interconnecting bus services
• Ferry terminal facilities
Recent feedback from existing passengers suggests strongly that all of these factors are presently limiting further growth. In a recent survey conducted by Auckland Ward Councillor John Watson, all of the above themes were mentioned, together with concerns about the safety and reliability of the existing boats used on the services.
THL does not think it is appropriate that passengers must stand outside in the rain, queuing for a ferry at peak time to ensure that they can obtain a seat on a crowded slow ferry.
THL submits that the SoP should be amended to include capital expenditure in the near term that adequately provides for additional sailings, larger vessels, carpark and terminal improvements, and bus services to meet all ferry arrivals.
7. CBD carparking policy and road congestion
It is the stated policy of both AT and Auckland Council to reduce parking in CBD. This is to be furthersupported by the imminent introduction of the Residential Exempt Parking Scheme (Freemans Bay and other inner suburbs) and zero minimum parking requirements for new high density buildings being constructed under the PAUP. All of these policies are aimed at reducing congestion and rely on increasing PT patronage.
Surveys conducted by THL in 2014 showed that more than 40% of commuters travelling by car from the Whangaparaoa Peninsula had an intended destination south of Albany. At peak hours commuter times exceed 90 minutes, and as has been well documented recently in the event of an accident there is no alternative travel route by road.
Clearly providing additional ferry services to the commuters of Whangaparaoa Peninsula provides a benefit to congestion issues on the Northern Motorway, and is entirely consistent with the CBD carparking policy objectives. Conversely not providing additional ferry services means there is no alternative available and is contrary to these objectives
THL submits that additional services to Gulf Harbour should be immediately introduced in compliance with the CBD parking and congestion policies of AT and Auckland Council.
8. BCR for service and infrastructure improvements
The FDP sets out the BCR’s for various projects in the plan and notes that for investment in services and infrastructure at Gulf Harbour the BCR is 8.8. It is the second highest scoring BCR for all ferry destinations. The FDP notes that the score is very high due to high benefit per passenger. THL would suggest that the result is negatively affected by the low forecast growth assumption discussed above, and may be comparable with the Half Moon Bay BCR of 15.7, due to a higher growth assumption.
THL submits that the BCR figure for service and infrastructure improvements in Gulf Harbour should be recalculated in line with the growth actually occurring.
9. Passenger travel preferences
To date AT have not liaised with either the passengers or the local community in relation to changing the timetable. Given that more than 50% of the passengers are new to ferry travel, THL is of the view that passengers should be given the opportunity to select their preferred sailing times. Of even more significance the preferences of those in the local community who still choose to travel by car to the CBD should be canvassed. To this end THL will be conducting a survey over the next 2 weeks. Based on past experience we anticipate we will receive between 500 and 1000 responses to the survey,
which we would consider a statistically significant sample.
THL submits that the preferences of existing and potential ferry commuters should be taken into account in the SoP when determining increased sailing frequencies to Gulf Harbour.
SUMMARY OF SUBMISSIONS
1. THL submits that the SoP is amended to immediately increase the scheduled services to Gulf Harbour to 30 minute frequency during peak times and 60 minute frequency off-peak.
2. THL submits that the growth assumptions used in modelling public transport for Whangaparaoa are incorrect and should be modified and updated to include what is actually happening in the area.
3. THL submits that the SoP and the FDP should be amended to provide Gulf Harbour with similar services and future growth as planned for Pine Harbour.
4. THL submits that the agreement between THL and AT could be used as a model for partnership with private business interests in other sectors of the PT network.
5. THL submits that Table 2 should be amended to show at least 15 sailings Mon-Fri to be introduced in 2015.
6. THL submits that the SoP should be amended to include capital expenditure in the near term that adequately provides for additional sailings, larger vessels, carpark and terminal improvements, and bus services to meet all ferry arrivals.
7. THL submits that additional services to Gulf Harbour should be immediately introduced in compliance with the CBD parking and congestion policies of AT and Auckland Council.
8. THL submits that the BCR figure for service and infrastructure improvements in Gulf Harbour should be recalculated in line with the growth actually occurring.
9. THL submits that the preferences of existing and potential ferry commuters should be taken into account in the SoP when determining increased sailing frequencies to Gulf Harbour.
Residents at a Gulf Harbour development have been gifted their own pavilion.
More than 50 people attended the Fairway Bay Discovery Residents Pavilion opening party last week.
The pavilion, which cost about $1 million to build and comes with a heated swimming pool, tennis court, fireplace, kitchen, changing rooms and big decks, was gifted to Discovery residents by Fairway Bay developer Top Harbour.
Sitting on 2756 square metres of land, it was designed by Richard Nash of RTA Studios and built by Interpro group.
Already it’s been put to good use, hosting a 70th birthday party.
The Discovery part of the Fairway Bay development was the first block of the project offering 79 sections ranging from 500sqm to 700sqm and priced from $305,000. Three lots remain in the first release.
The project is expected to finish with about 80 sections and will have homes built in a variety of styles.
The diversity of people who have bought there has surprised development consultant Michael Webb-Speight. Demographic studies suggested most of the purchasers would come from the East Coast Bays area, many probably in their 60s with a boat. But it’s more a United Nations, with residents from seven different nationalities living or moving in, he says. Countries represented include Britain, China, Columbia, Germany, Russia and India.
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The Fairway Bay Gulf Harbour property development north of Auckland, a $550 million project that provides work for 500 people, would never have happened without Chinese investment, says a consultant to the development company.
Top Harbour, a syndicate of Shanghai Zendai Property, Shanghai Pengxin’s Jiang Zhoabai and local firm Westlake Investment bought Jamie Peters’ Gulf Harbour development out of receivership in August 2012 for $35 million, transforming it into an eight-year, $550 million project that has created more than 130 house sites and plans to double that within 12 months.
“When we started this two years ago, there was nobody in New Zealand who could do it – I know, because I went around and asked everybody if they wanted to,” Top Harbour project consultant Michael Webb-Speight said. “These guys have come in, stuck their money in, and we’ve got probably 500 people working over on the site in various ways – consultants, builders, digger drivers and what have you, and they’re all living in New Zealand, and all kiwis, and they all pay tax – well how good is that.”
The Top Harbour development is cash-funded, although it has recently taken on some development finance at a very low loan-to-value ratio from lender ASB Bank.
Auckland’s housing market has posed a number of problems for policymakers who are struggling to facilitate a rapid building programme while demand continues to accelerate. The Reserve Bank has estimated Auckland has a short-fall of between 15,000 and 20,000 properties to meet population growth and new consents are running behind the 10,000 needed to keep up at an annual 7,500. Chinese investors are sometimes cited as helping to drive up prices.
The make up of the Top Harbour group is about to change, after state-owned China Orient Asset Management announced plans to buy 50 percent of Hong Kong Exchange-listed Shanghai Zendai, which plans to sell its stake in the New Zealand developer to another, unnamed Chinese investor, Webb-Speight said. The ownership change won’t impact Gulf Harbour, he said.
The development is through three stages, with 132 lots completed with different price points. Of the first stage, 50 of the 65 completed lots have been sold with most in the $700,000 to $800,000 price range. The second stage has 28 lots priced between $1 million and $2 million, while the third stage has just been completed with 39 lots priced between $600,000 and $650,000.
“In the first three we’ve tried to create a range of products and range of values so that we can address a wider part of the market,” Webb-Speight said.
Ten houses have been built, another 15 are under construction and more than 30 are under design or waiting for consent.
Webb-Speight said the biggest hold-up for construction was the lack of resource, with local housing companies building more than 100 houses a year, more than twice what they were doing three years ago.
While a rising population, swelled by inbound net migration, was fuelling demand, Webb-Speight said banks’ lending policies were keeping the market running hot.
“While banks are happy to lend money to people then the market will continue,” he said. “It’s fed naturally by this immigration scenario, that’s great, it creates demand, but the bank lending policy is the whole key.”
Once the next housing stage is completed, the development will look at working on an apartment area in the middle of the area.
“It makes sense to us to fill in the green paddocks first, create a bit of critical mass and get all the rest of the stuff and then see if we can get the apartments to work,” Webb-Speight said.
“It’s really how do we make 585 apartments, that’s a lot in any market, and we don’t think you can bring all that to market in a short period of time. It needs to be staged and developed.”
The development plans to create 1,000 lots, though Webb-Speight said that’s a dynamic number and could change as the project continues.
By PAUL MCBETH
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Gulf Harbour developer Top Harbour Limited said today that its plans to develop at Fairway Bay remain unchanged.
As reported in the New Zealand Herald yesterday, former partner in the development Shanghai Zendai, has sold its interests to another party – also a Chinese based investor. According to the Zendai Property website the sale is part of an exit strategy that includes the sale of property assets around the world, including New Zealand, South Africa and China itself.
Commenting on the story, Top Harbour Limited confirmed that from a New Zealand perspective nothing is changing. “This is one offshore investor swapping for another. We have two shareholders actively involved in the development, and do not anticipate any change to our business plan. We are focussed on creating new homes as fast as we can.”
Project Consultant Michael Webb-Speight says “Since commencing work on the Fairway Bay project in early 2013, considerable progress has been made. The first stage of the project is almost sold out – with 10 houses already completed, and a further 15 currently under construction. More than 130 lots have been created in the development to date, and we are aiming to complete a further 140 lots within the next 12 months. Progress has been pleasing with new residents moving in every month. There are more than 30 houses that are currently under design or waiting for consent – so things are really starting to move.”
A new marina was completed in October last year which Webb-Speight says has attracted a number of buyers wanting to live close to their boats. A café, bar and Sunday Market are also operating on the site.
Last year an agreement was reached between Fairway Bay and Auckland Transport to increase ferry services to the CBD. With 12 sailings each day between Gulf Harbour and the CBD, Webb-Speight says that remarkable growth has been seen over the last six months. “In March there were over 14,000 passengers carried, compared to just 6000 at the same time last year. This is one of the real public transport success stories, and underlines the advantage that commuters can have if they live at Gulf Harbour and work in the CBD”
Friday night A late Friday night ferry service between Gulf Harbour and Auckland is being trialled.
Ferry patronage has risen dramatically at Gulf Harbour.
Almost 14,000 passengers were recorded in March by Auckland Transport, compared with just over 6000 in March 2014.
Similar increases have been achieved since the start of the new timetable last July.
“We have seen a huge rise in patronage for the Gulf Harbour ferry service, so we are putting on a bigger vessel to meet demand,” Auckland Transport says.
Fairway Development consultant Michael WebbSpeight says growth on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula is expected to be significant during the next three years.
“Fairway Bay has generated almost 200 lots over the last 26 months, and there are over 20 houses under construction in our development at present.” A meeting of the ferry user group discussed the challenges of such rapid growth. Bigger boats, more car parking, connecting bus services, and wharf and terminal improvements are on the agenda.
“Many of the challenges we face are a direct result of the rapid growth,” Webb-Speight says. “Adding more sailings and larger boats need to be planned in conjunction with parking and wharf facilities.
These things simply cannot happen overnight.” A late-night Friday service is being trialled, including one on Friday departing Auckland 10.30pm and providing peninsula residents with a chance to prebook and enjoy a night out in the city without the drive home.
Ferry service provider 360 Discovery says with winter coming three vessels will be on peak services.
During May the situation will be re-assessed.
Upgrades of the Auckland Pier 4 pontoon and shelter are planned.
Source website link (please search article title – Friday night ferry trialled)
The Auckland property market is proving a hard nut to crack for wannabe homeowners, with the average sale price recently hitting around three quarters of a million dollars.
In light of this, we’re talking to families who have found different ways to break in and take a slice of Auckland in the Hibiscus Coast and Rodney.
First, we spoke to a couple who bought a house and then moved it. And today we chat to a young pair who are building a new home in Gulf Harbour.
Buying an old decrepit, two-bedroom home in Greenlane or building a new four-bedroom place in Gulf Harbour was the decision Chad and Rebecca Franklin had to face.
Chad, a 27-year-old IT consultant, and Rebecca, a 25-year-old nurse, say they have found the process of buying their own home relatively easy after they found how to get past the hurdle of a deposit.
“A huge factor for us was the fact you don’t need a 20 percent deposit when you are building, you are exempt from those restrictions. We had an 11 percent deposit,” Rebecca says.
The couple had only seriously been looking at options for a month, and in that time went to a couple of open homes in the Greenlane, Meadowbank and Ellerslie area.
“The only thing we could get for our money was a run-down, two-bedroom, asbestos-filled unit. For the same price we found an option on Trade Me to build a new four-bedroom, two bathroom, stand-alone home in Gulf Harbour,” Rebecca says. The house is being built by Key 2 and is on a 250 square metre section.
Within a week the couple had met the real estate agent, negotiated with the bank and put an offer on the place.
“Hibiscus Coast was still an option for us but we wanted somewhere closer to town so the commute to work was better,” Chad says. “Gulf Harbour was an option because of the ferry, and we think it’s a good suburb to invest in as it is more affordable and will go up in value.”
The valuation of the complete house had meant the couple’s equity rose to 19 percent. “We saved the last one percent to get the good rates with the bank,” Chad says.
WISH THEY JUMPED IN EARLIER
In retrospect the couple would have liked to have got into the property market earlier, even one month would have helped.
“We bought the place in December and everything shut down over Christmas and New Year. One of the hard parts of building is the wait. We were told to expect seven months between purchase and move in date. We are paying a mortgage for the land with nothing to show for it at this stage,” Rebecca says.
The couple is staying with Rebecca’s parents in a downstairs flat while the work is underway.
“We wanted to get in to the market as soon as possible as prices kept going up – they went up faster than what we could save,” Chad says.
The major benefit of building – getting a brand new house. “We wont have to pay extras for renovating and it will be worth more than what we paid for it,” Rebecca says.
Both Chad and Rebecca say that building through Key 2 has made the process very easy compared to doing it yourself.
“A lot of people think they can’t buy a house as they don’t have the deposit. But we did some research and figured a way to make it work, it’s worth looking at options.”
PRICES AREN’T PUTTING OFF BUYERS
The latest figures from Barfoot& Thompson, Auckland’s largest realtor, show sale prices reached an average of $776,729 in March (while Trade Me’s property price index has the figure at $716,050).
But that has not put off buyers.
While March is always the busiest month of the year, Barfoot& Thompson managing director Peter Thompson says the level of trading was unprecedented and had set a string of new records.
The agency sold 1597 homes, the highest number ever in a calendar month, a quarter of which had a price tag of over $1 million.
“Buyers remain convinced that with a stable economy, low interest rates and restricted housing availability, that buying at current prices is manageable,” Thompson says.
The firm sold 300 homes for less than $500,000, which represented just one in five properties.
– Do you think building is a good option in the current market?
By CARALISE TRAYES,Rodney Times
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Mayor Len Brown says he is keen to undertake a joint venture with the Government in building Penlink.
The mayor revealed at an AUT press conference that Hibiscus Coast rates would have to rise if just the Auckland Council undertook the project. Brown says he will be looking to make Penlink a ‘‘two for the price of one’’ package deal with the Government, including it with the motorway extension from Puhoi to Warkworth.
Residents have been pushing for the alternate route between the Whangaparaoa Peninsula and Redvale to unclog Whangaparaoa Rd and give them an alternative route out of the peninsula.
Calls for the project, first proposed by the Rodney District Council in 1996 and not expected to be built until 2021, were renewed following the fatal headon collision on Whangaparaoa Rd in January which killed Coral Jobis and blocked the peninsula.
Penlink has been left outside Auckland’s 10-year budget and the subject is a popular topic on social network site Neighbourly.
When asked why this was the case, the mayor said the decision came back to the local community and its desire to keep rates low and manage debt levels.
When asked whether Penlink would pay for itself through tolls, Brown says ‘‘there’s not enough people in Whangaparaoa to recover the debt‘‘.
The project is expected to cost between $370 million to $380m.
– Kendall Hutt is an AUT journalism student
Source website link (please search article title – Mayor keen for Penlink joint venture with govt)
KAVANNA Jade’s first official duty as a Make-A-Wish New Zealand child ambassador was a breath of fresh air in more ways than one.
The 15-year-old, who has a respiratory condition, accepted a $25,000 cheque on behalf of the charity from Fairway Bay developer Top Harbour, raised from the sale of a Wish House in Gulf Harbour.
Kavanna, from Waiheke Island, effortlessly stepped into the role as the charity’s first child ambassador after a lifetime of health problems.
She has chronic suppurative lung disease and chronic obstructive asthma and was just out of a 10-day stay at Starship children’s hospital – the latest of her 200-plus admissions – when she appeared at the cheque handover ceremony.
She still managed to deliver a confident speech to the assembled media and guests at 89 Pinecrest Dr, face interviews, and pose for photographs with her mum Carolyn Ogg.
‘‘I’m really honoured and excited,’’ Kavanna says about her selection as ambassador.
‘‘It’s going to be a great year. I get to help kids’ wishes come true, meet them and get their story.’’ Kavanna’s first Make-AWish experience was a ‘‘dream come true’’ holiday to the Gold Coast last year with a friend and her family, where she patted dolphins and braved theme park rides.
The Waiheke High School student is buzzing to get back into her study fulltime.
‘‘I was a bit annoyed when the doctor told me that I would be doing half days but its for the best for my health,’’ she says.
‘‘But I’ll be back on both my feet, hopefully without crutches, going full days, getting the homework that I’m supposed to be getting, and seeing my friends.
‘‘I’m a people person. I love being around crowds even though I get nervous at times.’’ The Wish House project involved Top Harbour, Barfoot& Thompson, and GJ Gardner Homes Rodney.
The house didn’t sell at an auction in November but a couple from Dunedin bought it later. They were looking forward to being closer to family in Auckland and using their SuperGold cards to take the ferry.
Make-A-Wish granted the wishes of 200 children with ill-health last year.
‘‘I appreciate that despite things not going as planned, Fairway Bay has come to the party and chosen to make this significant donation,’’ Make-A-Wish chief executive Shane Gorst says.
This is the second major charity drive Fairway Bay has done with Make-A-Wish.
“Our previous event with Make-A-Wish was almost killed by the drought,” development consultant Michael Webb-Speight says.
“Thanks to a text donations campaign on breakfast TV, the field of dreams sunflowers ended up as a huge success.”
The 2012-2013 drought, New Zealand’s worst in 70 years, destroyed thousands of sunflowers destined to raise funds for Make-A-Wish.
“This time we wanted to do something with Make-A-Wish that was less weather dependent,” Webb-Speight says.
All donations, including $25,000 made from the sale of the Wish House, go towards granting the wishes of Kiwi kids aged 3-17 with life-threatening medical conditions.
By CHRIS THOMPSON, Rodney Times
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An Auckland teen who once wrote a bucket list to distract herself from her life-long illness and to focus on positive goals has ticked off a milestone by becoming the first child ambassador for Make-a-Wish New Zealand.
KavannaHasselman yesterday accepted a $25,000 cheque on behalf of the sick-children’s charity from the sale proceeds of a house that was built for the purpose at the new Fairway Bay subdivision at Gulf Harbour, on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula.
Putting her crutches to one side, the 15-year-old was able to make a clear and strong thank-you speech, though weary after a 10-day stay in the Starship children’s hospital in Auckland.
“I’m so happy to be the first child ambassador and be able to spread a message of strength, hope and joy,” said Kavanna, who has been diagnosed with chronic suppurative lung disease and chronic obstructive asthma.
At 5 weeks old, she had her first of more than 200 admissions to the Starship with breathing problems.
A side effect of the years of medication for her lung condition has been a high level of pain.
By Wayne Thompson,NZ Herald
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Bigger, more reliable boats and more sailings are sought on an over-crowded Gulf Harbour to Auckland ferry service.
Passengers are joining together collectively and asking providers 360 Discovery and Auckland Transport via email to make it a priority as the service nears capacity.
In the emails, the commuters say the ferries are becoming over-crowded with only the vessel TiriKat accommodating the numbers.
Even on the second largest ferry, D1, there is standing room only.
Passengers have no option but to sit outside on deck, exposed to the elements, or stand where space allows on deck or in the cabin.
This isn’t a problem as long as the weather is fair, they say.
But once the service hits rain or any reasonable sized swells it could become a health and safety issue.
Passengers believe they should not be expected to spend 50 to 70 minutes standing against swells or sitting in the rain and spray of waves and have to pay for the experience.
The ferries have experienced a number of breakdowns and mechanical issues and passengers believe it is only a matter of time before they are involved in an incident at sea.
Last year, the number of daily trips was extended following a successful campaign by Gulf Harbour residents, championed by Fairway Bay developers who helped subsidise the service with an undisclosed amount, Fairway Bay spokesman Michael Webb-Speight says.
The improved service is proving to be something of a victim of its own success, he says – passenger numbers have more than doubled in about six months.
‘‘March figures due out shortly [are] expected to be a further significant increase,’’ he says.
Auckland Transport has been inundated with emails, dozens of ferry users making their views known on what has quickly become a busy ferry run.
‘‘With winter approaching, however, the issue will become more urgent. You simply can’t ask people to stand outside in the rain for 45 minutes on their way to town.’’ Recent breakdowns and incidents have also exacerbated the situation, he says.
Webb-Speight says all are committed to solving the capacity issues, but that passenger growth has far exceeded expectations.
Fairway Bay, Auckland Transport and 360 Discovery will discuss the issue tomorrow. Auckland Transport and 360 Discovery say patronage has risen more than 115 per cent and they are working to address capacity issues.
As an immediate measure, the Discovery 3 is being replaced with larger Fullers vessel Tiger Cat and other vessels are being assessed for their suitability.
By Jay Boreham
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Olympic silver medallists Peter Burling and Blair Tuke taught three disabled children to sail at Fairway Bay in Gulf Harbour.
Sarah Colquhoun, 13, Oscar Straker, 10, and Max Walsh, 7, who all have cerebral palsy, sailed in Hansa 303s which are permanently based at Fairway Bay and belong to the Fairway Bay Sailability Club.
The Hansa 303s are adapted to be used by disabled people to give them the opportunity to sail and are almost impossible to capsize.
The children were joined by Halberg Award Team of the Year finalists Burling and Tuke who guided them around the marina.
The awards, which took place last night, are a major fundraiser for the Halberg Disability Sport Foundation, which helped to launch Sailability on the Hibiscus Coast with a $2000 grant.
Paralympic sailor Tim Dempsey says Sailability has been running out of Westhaven Marina in Auckland for about 23 years.
‘‘For some, it’s the first time they feel in control of something other than a wheelchair,’’ he says.
He says many disabled people describe the sensation as ‘‘freedom’’ and ‘‘empowering’’.
Dempsey is urging people who are interested to come and have a go on the Hansas when the club meets on Saturdays at Hobbs Wharf at 10am.
‘‘It was great to learn to sail and I got to do it with an Olympian,’’ Sarah, from Mairangi Bay, says.
Oscar, from Whangaparaoa, does a range of sports including adaptive skiing and participates in the Albany Mud Rush, and Max, from Silverdale, will have to find room for sailing next to swimming, football, and golf. He was pleased about finishing first alongside Burling in a race between the Hansas.
Burling’s sailing partner Tuke says it was a neat experience.
‘‘The work the foundation does is pretty awesome. It’s all about the kids enjoying themselves.’’ Another major sponsor for Sailability is the Whangaparaoa Rotary Club.
It’s president Brian Mullan says he’s very pleased with how it’s all gone, particularly as it’s come together in less than six months.
The Halberg Disability Sports Foundation works with physically disabled young people and their families to get them involved in sports and recreation.
Anyone with a physical disability wanting to get involved in sport or recreation should contact regional Halberg Disability sport adviser Marcus Laurie on firstname.lastname@example.org
By CHRIS THOMPSON
Source website link(please search article title – Disabled kids sail away to ‘freedom’)