TGH ramps up info campaign
Tainui Group Holding is promoting its inland port. Andrea Fox reports.
Ruakura inland port planner Tainui Group Holding is urging community critics worried about noise and traffic disruption to remember that 30 freight trains already go through the site daily with more coming, and that the new Waikato Expressway will be open within seven years.
TGH chief executive Mike Pohio said while the proposed train and truck port and manufacturing hub would operate around the clock, it would be enabled by the inevitable rail and road changes, not the cause of them.
The plan was for light industrial manufacturing, with no "noxious" operations such as bitumen production or waste processing, he said.
Waikato University is keeping "a very close eye" on the project, vice-chancellor Professor Roy Crawford said.
The university was staying involved with the planning process to ensure the inland port did not have a negative impact on the university, he said.
"We have held and will continue to hold discussions with Tainui Group Holdings and Hamilton City Council, and we will have input into the plans. One of the university's distinctive features is our beautiful grounds, location and outlook and we want to ensure the project does not adversely affect this."
TGH needs its rural land at Ruakura rezoned industrial for the 500-hectare project, including a 28ha inland port and 60ha of housing, which would be developed over 30 to 50 years at a cost of about $3 billion.
The residential development will be on land owned by Hamilton's Webb family. developers of Chedworth Park.
With the technical aspects of its application for draft district plan inclusion to the Hamilton City Council processed, Tainui's commercial development arm is now increasing its public information effort, copping claims at recent presentations that its plan will disrupt nearby homeowners and that it is already reducing property values.
Mr Pohio said there were about 11,000 train movements from Auckland and the Port of Tauranga through Ruakura and these would increase during the next three decades, and "we've all known the expressway is coming".
"Ruakura is not the generator of all this, in fact it is quite the opposite – we recognise it as a key piece of the infrastructure allowing Hamilton to grow and become an economic powerhouse in the upper North Island."
Light towers over the container operation would be 35m at the highest and buildings in the industrial and logistics zone would be up to 20m high, he said.
TGH was also criticised for not widely advertising two information meetings this month. Mr Pohio said it had sent out 8000 fliers but did not know these were bundled with other material.
It was planned to take two or three busloads of residents to Auckland's new Highbrook Business Park, a Goodman development of 107ha that would ultimately host 550,000sqm of manufacturing, technology, warehousing, office, retail and logistics businesses, surrounded by recreational parklands.
"It doesn't have rail ... but it will give a good idea of the sound, noise, street, light and environmental outcomes. There will be enough there for people to get some visibility of what to expect (at Ruakura). It will also show the difference between a single-owner approach (like TGH) with a masterplan development with the emphasis on quality."
To a claim by a Percival Rd lifestyle property owner that their property value had already fallen, Mr Pohio said: "We are not valuers, we are not in a position to comment on that. We are looking at the development of land that will generate jobs and we can see advantages for future residents who want to live close to their work.
"It is also an opportunity to develop the east side of the city and avoid congestion on the west side.
"So there will be some benefits, and the impacts on some properties has yet to be seen, but there will be no smoke stacks and no noxious operations."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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