Thursday, 9th March, 2017

The overwhelming verdict of Silverdale and Whangaparaoa Peninsula residents is that no more housing developments should start until a construction start for the Penlink Project is confirmed.

This is the view of 90 percent of nearly 1000 respondents to an Auckland Chamber survey of Whangaparaoa-Silverdale businesses and residents undertaken through the Chamber’s website.

I have strongly sensed that the Chamber has done the right thing by the business community to launch a campaign seeking an immediate construction start to the ‘ready to go’ Penlink Project, and predicted a strong response.

But what I haven’t been prepared for is the nearly 350 comments, many reflecting personal anguish and frustration that congestion is having on every aspect of people’s lives – unable to get to work on time, missed flights and hospital appointments, abandoning recreation options and much more.

The congestion is now so bad that people trying to sell their house and move to somewhere else with less congestion are being frustrated by a lack of buyer interest – (a comment I note was aired on the Leighton Smith’s Newstalkzb radio show backed up by other frustrated callers).

Other key findings of the survey, of the 960 respondents:

  • 85% believe that congestion is now much worse than it was 10 years ago;
  • 98% support a Chamber submission to Auckland Council’s 2017/18 plan and transport programme including an immediate start on Penlink’s construction;
  • 97% support a private-public partnership to build Penlink involving the council, central government and private financiers;
  • 65% were prepared to pay a toll of $2.50 per trip, and 27% supported a toll of $3;

Among other comments were suggestions that:

  • Property developers and construction companies should help finance the private funding of Penlink;
  • Because Penlink has been on Auckland Council’s books since the 1990s and is consented, the land purchased and ready for building but congestion now at socially unacceptable ‘crises’ level, council had a duty of care to the community to “wake up to its responsibilities”.

Stalling immediate action because of a so-called revenue-to-debt ceiling for the $380 million project was an unacceptable excuse; it is about showing care for the community, waking up to core responsibility for action and setting a priority to ‘just do it’.

Auckland’s housing intensification plans provide for around 5000 new homes over next 10 years and nearly 30,000 within 30-years - that’s a stupid plan if it proceeds without Penlink being built.

The survey findings reinforce that Auckland has a congestion crises on its hands on the upper North Shore. We need a council that acknowledges that Penlink action is of the highest priority – it’s a message we will carry forward in coming weeks.

I commend Hibiscus and Bays Local Board councillors, chair Julia Parfitt and deputy Janet Fitzgerald for bringing this matter to the Chamber’s attention – they are 100% right!

The project has to happen, and if Auckland Council has any pride to do essential things by its residents and community Penlink will be first cab off the rank.

For more information contact Michael Barnett, mobile: 0275 631 150.
Michael Barnett, Chief Executive, Auckland Chamber of Commerce.