“Where else around Auckland do you see three tower cranes at work?”
That was the answer Retail Property Group General Manager, Campbell Barbour, gave when asked how things are going out at Westgate. There was a note of real satisfaction and not a little pride in the voice of the man charged with building the biggest new town in New Zealand.
The new Westgate will be massive, rivalling the Manukau and Albany developments of the 1980’s and 1990’s repsectively. Like them, it is not a shopping centre. Westgate is a complete new town and will be the major economic hub for West Auckland as the geographical centre continues to move northwest. This includes expansion in Hobsonville and sufficient land for 20,000 new homes being opened between Westgate and Kumeu.
The new town will cover a site two kilometres long and is attracting over $1 billion in investment. When complete, it will have a CBD, great facilities and about 5,000 homes and more than 8,000 new jobs.
“It’s an explosion on a scale not seen in West Auckland since the late 1950’s baby boom,” says Campbell Barbour.
The difference this time is that all the facilities of a town will be completed at the same time as the housing.
Of the $1 billion in investment, more than $200 million will be invested by Auckland Council in creating public amenities. $20 million will be spent on a 3,500m2 library, a further $8 million will go towards a town square and community buildings and $5 million will be spent creating an underground bus station.
There will be 6ha of public open space and parks, a playground and skateboard park, cycleways, footpaths, retail centres and more than 8,000 jobs within walking distance.
Westgate was first mooted in 2002 in a joint initiative between RPG’s Chairman Mark Gunton and Waitakere City Council. From the outset, the new Westgate embraced environmental sustainability, partly because it is the right way to approach city building for the future and partly because of the extremely rigorous conditions applied by the former Auckland Regional Council.
This means that among other features today, parking areas will use permeable paving and storm-water runoff is captured by swales rather than concrete storm-water pipes. Both permeable paving and swales enable the water to soak into the ground, allowing the earth to filter it of impurities before it finds its way into the water table or streams. This kind of water treatment mimics the way nature deals with stormwater and results in healthy streams and a healthier upperharbour.
Sustainability is assisted by having work opportunities, retail and residential quarters in close proximity, enabling people who live here to shop and seek work and take their recreation not just locally, but within walking distance. The bus interchange will make it easier for people to use public transport, especially when the upgrades on the North Western motorway are completed.
There are 11 separate zones, some permitting residential development, some commercial, some retail and so on. The first internal mall will be developed during next year in zone 5. In total RPG has resource consent to develop 213,000m2 of floorspace with a 30m height limit. This area will include up to 78,000m2 of offices in a scheme that is similar to North Shore’s Smales Farm.
The DNZ property group is on-site building the 26,000m2 DNZ Mall and a new Mitre 10 Mega store is taking shape as is a Pak’n'Save supermarket. All are scheduled to open before Christmas.
Work on the library and other community facilities and the office developments is scheduled to get underway next year and on the residential sector, in 2016.