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Housing, roading, rail, cycling and water projects among those named by the Government to go through special streamlined consenting process

Housing, roading, rail, cycling and water projects among those named by the Government to go through special streamlined consenting process
Image from PickPik

The Government has selected the first 11 infrastructure projects to go through a streamlined consenting process initiated in response to COVID-19.

High-density housing at the Unitec site in Auckland and at Te Pa Tahuna in Queenstown, an upgrade to State Highway 1 between Papakura and Drury, and a water storage facility in Kaikohe are among the projects selected.

The fast-tracking can occur under the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track) Bill, which will be introduced to Parliament later this week.

Being a short-term intervention aimed at creating jobs, it will self-repeal in two years’ time.

The 11 projects will be referred to ‘expert consenting panels’, which will set conditions on projects before they can proceed.

The panels will have similar powers to consenting authorities under the Resource Management Act (RMA).

Each panel will be chaired by a sitting or retired Environment Court Judge, or senior RMA lawyer. Panels will have three to four members and include nominees from relevant local authorities and local iwi authorities.

Environment Minister David Parker couldn't say how many panels would be set up, but said there would be fewer than 10.  

A 'substantial number' of additional projects to go through streamlined process

The Bill allows for projects to proceed through two other pathways.

Government organisations, local councils, iwi, NGOs or those in the private sector will be able to lodge applications with the Environment Minister, who will refer projects that meet the criteria set out in the Bill to panels for consideration through an Order in Council.

Parker said these projects would need to be “job rich” and funded.

He expected a “substantial number” of projects to go through this pathway.

He said these would include projects the Government decides to fund further to recommendations made by a group of infrastructure industry leaders, headed by Crown Infrastructure Partners chairman Mark Binns.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said ministers were still working through a list given to them by the Infrastructure Industry Reference Group at the end of May, which includes hundreds of projects.

Of the projects selected for funding, Parker expected a “significant proportion” to go through the streamlined consenting process.

An additional $3 billion was allocated towards infrastructure in the 2020 Budget. This came on top of the $12 billion Upgrade Programme (some of which is yet to be allocated), announced in January.

Exemptions for KiwiRail and NZTA

Finally, the Bill will enable the NZ Transport Agency and KiwiRail to do some repair work, maintenance and minor upgrades to existing road and rail infrastructure without consent, provided they meet certain standards.

On average, notified applications for resource consents take four to six months to process. Parker expected the fast track processes to take between 45 to 70 working days.

He maintained some transport projects would be able to start a year or two sooner, depending on conditions set by the panel.

Environmental and Treaty safeguards remain

Parker said: "Extraordinary times sometimes require extraordinary measures.

"However, positive environmental outcomes will not be sacrificed at the expense of speed. While these projects are being advanced in time, environmental safeguards remain. Part 2 of the Resource Management Act including the recognition of matters of national importance, will continue to apply.

“Furthermore, the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi, and Treaty Settlement obligations apply to all projects under this Bill...

“The current comprehensive review of the RMA, which I expect to release before the election, will set out proposals for long term reform to fix the issues that have plagued the resource management system for many years. 

“But until then, the RMA is still the main pathway for resource consenting for all other projects.”

The 11 initial fast-tracked projects named in the Bill are:

1) Kaikohe water storage facility – to provide water for agricultural and horticultural use and drinking water in Kaikohe. This project is expected to provide 70 jobs.

2) Unitec – Phase 1 – high density housing on the Unitec site in Auckland, 250 jobs.

3) Te Pa Tahuna – Phase 1 –  up to 180 residential units and retail space on an old school site in Queenstown - part of a wider development that aims to provide up to 300 high density dwellings. Up to 100 jobs.

4) Papakāinga Network Development – the delivery of Papakainga across six sites; in Kaitaia, Pt Chevalier, Raglan, Waitara, Chatham Islands and Christchurch. This project will support the Government to provide up to 120 dwellings. It is being delivered by Māori developers with support from Te Puni Kōkiri. Will help retain and expand the existing workforce.

5) Britomart East Upgrade – upgrades to Britomart station to ensure the City Rail Link project can operate at full capacity once services commence. 30 jobs.

6) Papakura to Pukekohe electrification – electrification of rail from Papakura to Pukekohe and the construction of three rail platforms. This project aims to extend Auckland metro services south to Pukekohe providing South Auckland with increased lower emissions transport choice. This project is expected to create 85 jobs.

7) Wellington Metro Upgrade programme – suite of smaller projects aimed at increasing the passenger and freight capacity of trains between Masterton, Levin and Wellington. Works will involve upgrading drainage, new tracks, upgrading stations, new storage yards, and the establishment and operation of a gravel extraction site. This project is expected to create 90 jobs.

8) Picton Ferry Dock and Terminal upgrade – The project will improve rail services by expanding the docks and upgrading the passenger terminal. This project is expected to create 200 jobs. KiwiRail notes that the design of the new terminal takes into account 100 years of projected sea level rise.

9) Northern Pathway – a cycleway and walkway between Westhaven and Akoranga in Auckland. This project aims to create a safe and useable active transport corridor for the North Shore and aims to increase the number of people cycling for commuting and recreation. Number of jobs expected to be 50.

10) Papakura to Drury SH1 roading upgrade – upgrades to SH1 to improve its capacity, as well as constructing new walking and cycling facilities to improve highway access and safety. This project aims to respond to population growth and provide transport options for people in South Auckland. Up to 350 jobs.

11) Te Ara Tūpuna – a cycleway and walkway between Petone and Ngauranga in Wellington. This project will improve the safety and usability of an existing cycleway and aims to increase the number of people cycling for commuting, recreation and tourism. This project is expected to create between 30 and 40 jobs and is an opportunity to strengthen existing sea walls and structures to make it more resilient to sea level rise and increased storm events.

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Is that all? I feel Underwhelmed.

Uhh, that's not that much.

What would 'whelm you?


All these projects are (or should be) well through the planning process given most were first proposed years ago. If they’re not shovel-ready we should be asking local and central govt why, not celebrating a temporary law tweak to finally push these through. SkyPath being one of the worst examples (despite being a great idea) that foolishly became another impossible 2017 Labour election promise ... sadly Northcote Pt boomers will be readying lawyers as I type. Sorry but there’s nothing new here that warrants a grandiose announcement on this scale. If they were permanently amending the RMA and local council consenting processes to fast track not just 11 projects, but these sorts of projects forever I’d be far more excited and “whelmed”. FIX THE UNDERLYING PROBLEM AT ITS ROOT, RATHER THAN STICK A BAND AID ON THE WOUND.
Guess we can’t expect central government to reinvent the wheel in just a couple of months but let’s not pretend this is something other than a PR stunt.

Yup & in my experience the Northcote Lawyers will be successful. The juridical reviews iv'e seen of resource consents generally result in the consent being ruled unlawful for some abstract, trivial legal reason. A small error in process will see your consent thrown ruled unlawful & you will find your self with a half a million legal bill.

All reasons why the other parties should have supported National in their attempts to modify the RMA. Now the RMA has to be set aside for event he government to achieve it aims, surely a worse position than RMA modification.

I don't think we have the infrastructure skill-set to do any better than this in the current situation. Our limited capacity would only allow so many projects to run simultaneously. Also, larger projects tend to be more complex and require more specialised workforce than "shovel-bearers".

Don't forget a significant portion of the $3.92 billion being given out to MoH is earmarked for capital expansion projects for the purpose of modernising our public healthcare facilities.

With unemployment rising, a lot of training could be going on.

We definitely have the skills. Many NZers have to leave because of the comparable employment options overseas. Maybe bringing back the Ministry of Works to actually get stuff done again, and keep the money in NZers hands would be a good option.


For the money they are spending, that's not a lot of jobs.

Model citizen - member 1 week = party hack in election run-up.

Can we keep the thread clear of such, perhaps? There are bigger issues afoot; ones which question not only the questioned but the questioners, indeed we will also find that those who are paid to question both the questioners and the questioned, have failed to ask the question.

Christchurch stadium hasnt been signed off , what about Transmission gully?

They're about to start remediation of the road surfaces at Transmission Gully.

Will be Interesting to dig out (sorry, Excavate) the Costs involved in each of these. Benefits? Productivity gains?
Actual economic analysis? Hello? Anyone home?

I am sure the business case process will be expedited and something will be published shortly. Can't imagine the benefits of more housing in Auckland and other parts of the nation, more water storage capacity in Far North, and better rail infrastructure in Wellington and South Auckland would be hard sell in the current environment.

I'm sure if they were all compared to the previous 4 way coalitions East/West Link they'll come out smelling of roses.


Ahhhhhh, the mysterious Unitec project surfaces again... bizarre how it just disappeared down a black hole for a couple of years, why? Why haven't any investigative journos dug further on that?
How many dwellings in Stage 1?

Lmao Skypath, a project which connects two of the richest parts of the city and costs $300m+, got funded as 'shovel ready'? Ahahah.

haters gonna hate

I suspect it's more a question that will be asked by those in the East wondering why their busway has been deferred.
Or those in the South wondering why A2B rapid transit has been stopped
Or in the West wondering where their light rail or interim busway is.
Perhaps some of us are sick of the Shore always finding its way to the front of the queue for everything?

*grumble grumble* because us Shore residents are so highly paid by default we're the biggest contributors to the tax pool, and our property values are so high we're the biggest contributors to the rates pool therefore we deserve.

I see where you're coming from GV. Esp given there was no bus lane included in the Waterview tunnel/NW interchange project.

But given there was meant to be a bike lane on the bridge when it was built 60 odd years ago I'm not sure it's jumping the queue.

Northern Pathway – a cycleway and walkway between Westhaven and Akoranga in Auckland. This project aims to create a safe and useable active transport corridor for the North Shore and aims to increase the number of people cycling for commuting and recreation. Number of jobs expected to be 50.

So $7.2m per job. Wouldn't 51 shuttle buses with bike racks be cheaper and employ more people.

I live and cycle in North Shore and would be in favour if the price was appropriate. For appropriate divide by 100. On a cold wet day what will be the usage?

$360m - how many social workers? how many teachers aids? how many nurses can be trained? Instead 50 guys with shovels who will be out of work when it is finished. And four quality houses knocked down. Barmy.

Guess you could treble the amount of people trained for the cost of Transmission Gulley then.

At least this is way less destructive than building a monstrosity of a road.

And it's also not a PPP that the previous gummit so loved to use to line the coffers of their business buddies.

The better option is to not waste money on white elephants like skypath. NZ is already building up a colossal debt, is it really too much to hope for high quality infrastructure spend that will serve as a true asset, rather than mausoleums for shrill special interests that aren't prepared to pay their own way. Skypath is costing as much as the whole harbour bridge did in inflation adjusted terms and will service a miniscule number of regular users. Free bus services would be vastly cheaper.

Where you gonna send those buses Foyle?

Into the city center that is already very nearly at capacity with the amount of buses that can fit in there?

Or are we excluding facts from your 'white elephant' theory?

Modern design compliance and H&S costs that add no value or resilience to the end product will do that.

How many km would a cyclist have to pedal to get from a typical Northshore home, out to the bridge, over, and then to the CBD to work? It would have to be at least 10 km (I guess). How many people a day would take this 10+ km one-way trip?

Plenty. It's similar to all the people who commute to the city using the NW cycleway from anywhere further out than Te Atatu.

About 1000 cyclists / day commute from TeAtatu or further afield

The genes of NZs great infrastructure engineers , scientists, and project managers have disappeared from the NZ gene-pool. I think the last one was William (Bill) Pickering who was head of the Pasadena Jet Propulsion Lab for many years in the post WW2 period and has been deemed the person who lead the USA into and through its space exploration period. He attended the same primary school, Havelock, in Blenheim, as Earnest Rutherford.
Look how Fletcher has been run over recent decades......petty corporate executive types who just wanted to expand their empire with useless acquisitions.
I just hope that Fletcher can pick themselves up and make something of these opportunities as I still hold Fletcher shares.

This is not much more than a political PR exercise for the government. I must say too that Parker looked and sounded unenthused.
Many of these projects would not be publicly notified or appealed, so the so-called benefits of the Bill are questionable...
Once again style over substance.

The Unitec "intensified housing" project will be a slum IMHO within about fifteen seconds of completion.

Why is this Government and the Council trying to force kiwis to live in concrete boxes? We are going backwards to Dickensian slums. Jacinta and her Green Gentry comrades all live in villas with grass. Why do they want the poor to live in a Covid19 breeding ground, concrete highrise!!??

The RMA should be rewritten to encourage the release of more cheap rural land on the city fringe - to crash the price of land and disperse the city. This would fix the housing crisis and traffic congestion. Parker's "review" will do nothing if it does not attack the root cause of the housing crisis- ignoring the law of supply and demand.

Forcing people to live in a concrete intensive, crowded, polluted slum in Carrington is not green...

It will be a slum if HNZ get in there and that would also be a waste of good central land

dont worry. they wont use concrete. instead a product meant to look like concrete

“ The RMA should be rewritten to encourage the release of more cheap rural land on the city fringe - to crash the price of land and disperse the city. This would fix the housing crisis and traffic congestion...”
I don’t think so and it would not fix anything. We have urban sprawl and an infrastructure spending deficit that’s in the tens of billions for water, sewage, roading, etc, and public transport that will never work. More urban sprawl will simply increase the costs exponentially and give you a rates bill of $10k+ on a $1m Auckland house. Hardly a panacea...

But isn't "urban sprawl" ie grass and low housing costs every human's dream? And retrofitting large amounts of infrastructure to 100 year old pipes is expensive and seems to pollute our harbour...

yeah, brand new midrise housing is so terrible, much better to raise a family in mum and dads garage.

A few million to address the awful architecture on Hamilton City's Victoria Street wouldn't go amiss. The recent attempts by local developers seem to have driven even more people out of the CBD...who would have thought that possible?

Motorway to whangarei still not on the list? Bit surprised.

Hmm, nothing really there for NZ First to claim,I think they've already claimed the Kaikohe scheme. Sign of things to come if they want to open the door to National , I think .

The coalition pulled the plug on further motorway work a couple of years back, so now the warkworth extension is winding down and starting to disperse much of their skilled workforce the long lead times of establishment process for going further north would take years and big dollars to try and make happen, which it wouldn't anyway because Greens hate all things car.

Sounds similar to how National hate all things that aren't a 4 lane motorway...

#10 is a motorway project, no? So I'm not sure about saying the coalition has pulled the plug on all things motorway.

10) Papakura to Drury SH1 roading upgrade – upgrades to SH1 to improve its capacity, as well as constructing new walking and cycling facilities to improve highway access and safety. This project aims to respond to population growth ....

So the government is still planning population growth. Since native born New Zealanders have less than two children per adult on average does that mean we have a population plan that is based on high levels of immigration?

There is steady shift of population from provinces to big cities chasing greater availability of jobs. Farming gets ever more efficient and more highly mechanized using less workers.

Has that movement finished? My anecdotal experience of rural NZ is the many farming jobs have gone and done so fairly recently judging by the former large schools now closed down. So how many more can leave the countryside without actually being farm owners leaving their land? That rural to urban demographic movement is now swamped by foreign immigration. Isn't it true more NZ born citizens leave Auckland than move into it?

Foyle - was. Not is, was.

It was the one-off boost of fossil energy, applied to agriculture, facilitated that. We're down to fracking, and it's going broke. That tide is about to ebb.

Nobody - Left, Right, Green yellow or of any persuasion, is a present addressing Powerdown. They - and most societal discussion - are just small-thinking noise; castigators of each other on a sloping deck.

Time to vote out some Labour MPs, starting with Duncan Webb - no vision for Christchurch.

It's saving 1250 existing jobs, it's not creating another 1250 jobs. They need to be clear here. I guess it will save some jobs, but they are not really doing a lot to create new jobs for the unemployed (and they probably give it to OSeas based companies who will do there best not to pay any tax in NZ- apart from GST and paye). But you don't go an work on electrified rail lines unless you have a few years experience under your belt.

When was the last time you - or anyone here including the writer - asked what a 'job' is?

Tourism employ's 220,000, presumably half these people will lose their jobs. The "fast tracking" of these projects is going to be a drop in the bucket relative to the mass unemployment we are facing.

and of those jobs how many are work permits, without being harsh we only need to create jobs for PR and citizens at this stage of recovery, those on work permits in this industry are not needed at the moment so I would suggest they move back home.
as someone that travels NZ a lot to find an NZ guide is as rare as the takahe, it is amusing to her an aussie or Chilean explain NZ history , bird life etc to tourists, they must find it strange we have so many accents

The local pub has gone from South American waiting staff to Kiwi's, been great