Court finds in favour of Moir Hill cycleway in massive Puhoi rural subdivision
The prospect of being able to cycle through regenerating bush on a trail from Warkworth to Puhoi has come a step closer.
A proposed network of off-road cycle/walkways connecting north Auckland got a boost this month, with an interim Environment Court decision for a public trail in a massive rural subdivision.
The decision said a connecting trail between two roads within the 1508 hectare Moir Hill subdivision, proposed by Asia Pacific International (NZ) Group, should be provided.
It would help to connect Puhoi with Warkworth away from the main roads.
The huge subdivision, seeing 207 rural lots created, pine forestry removed and 1312ha replanted in natives, is planned in three stages over several decades.
Stage one covers 245ha with forestry felling coinciding with the Ara Tuhono Puhoi to Warkworth motorway extension build, which dissects the subdivision.
The second stage covers 590ha and is likely still 10 years away. The remaining stages covers 680ha.
The trail would be developed in the second stage about 10 years away and connect Loop Rd and Dawson Rd, which will become public roads.
The Matakana Coast Trail Trust turned to the Environment Court when its initial submission to include a cycleway and walkway was turned down.
With about 40 percent of traffic on current State Highway One to remain even after the completion of the motorway extension, walking and cycling that road wouldn't have been realistic, the court noted.
The decision also took into account the fact a network all the way to Warkworth was likely in the future, and the Whangarei District Council was also considering cycle and walkway connections between Whangarei and Auckland.
But perhaps most importantly for advocates of off-road venturing in the future, the court found off-road cycle/walkways were only going to increase in the future, and were encouraged under the Auckland Unitary Plan (AUP).
Not including them on a large subdivision like Moir Hill would have an adverse affect on connectivity under the AUP and they should be provided for in the conditions of consent, the court found.
That could see cycle/walkways become more common as part of resource consents for future subdivision.
Matakana Coast Trail Trust, Auckland Council and Asia Pacific must advise the court if they can agree on the details of a trail within three months.