Local Government New Zealand is calling on the government to ensure that the internal issues at the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) are fixed soon. The current state of affairs is stalling housing developments and regional economies through the Agency’s seeming inability to progress vital roading projects.
In some of New Zealand’s most expensive housing markets such as Tauranga, Queenstown, and Hamilton, local councils are battling to open land for housing development because they cannot get NZTA to commit funding to ready-to-go roading projects.
“Quite simply, you cannot open land for housing development without infrastructure such as drinking and wastewater and most importantly roads. Local government along with NZTA are co-investors in this process,” says LGNZ President Dave Cull.
“Unfortunately, ongoing corporate restructuring at NZTA, coupled with a subsequent move to pull regional decision-making back to head office, has stalled many regional projects that are needed to open land for development.”
In Tauranga, for example, improvements to SH29 have the potential to open land for 3,000 homes in Tauriko West. The business case for this project, which NZTA described as a “strategically important link between the soon to be completed Waikato Expressway on SH1 and Tauranga”, was approved in 2016 but has yet to get off the books.
“This issue is not limited to places like Tauranga - we regularly hear from councils around the country about how the disruption at NZTA is clogging much needed projects, including major projects in some of our biggest cities as well as in regional New Zealand,” said Mr Cull.
“Central government needs to realise the interconnected nature of housing and infrastructure. You can’t have one side of the equation misfiring without affecting the other,” says Mr Cull.
“Local government has planned for and budgeted for these roads. Council money is literally sitting there ready to be put into action, but we need NZTA to sort out its issues quickly and come to the investment table. Further stalling will see construction capacity leave the regions because of uncertainty about when more work will come down the pipeline, and that will hurt regional economies and communities most.”