The growth of Auckland could have pluses and minuses for Waikato, with the region needing to be ready to meet challenges and take up the opportunities its presents.
That’s a key theme of a report on recent council-commissioned research presented today to Waikato Regional Council’s strategy and policy committee.
Some of the key findings indicated particular potential pressures in north Waikato but also impacts in the east and south of the region:
- As Auckland continues to grow, there is potential for holiday developments in the Coromandel and Taupo and market gardening moving from South Auckland to parts of the Waikato.
- Continuing pressure for fragmentation of land in the vicinity of Auckland as demand for goods and services change, and the economy of the rural area may diversify from purely agricultural economies to service-based economies.
- Rural area population will continue to grow with more people wanting to live outside the Auckland metropolitan area.
- There may be continued pressure for location of quarries, landfills, prisons, noxious industries and energy development in rural areas, as well as other types of commercial and residential development.
“Commuting from the rural hinterland to Auckland is likely to increase, potentially changing the nature of some towns from rural communities to commuter towns, and may cause increased road congestion in some areas,” a report to the committee said.
“In general, there will be increasing potential for conflict between land uses in the rural area.”
The report also said the influence of Auckland will continue to strongly support economic and population growth in Hamilton.
“Hamilton may become more specialised in specific goods and services as it continues to grow as a regional hub with strong transport connections.”
The report said the regional council needed to keep an eye on any pressure for high quality agricultural land in north Waikato to be used for activities not of an agricultural nature.
There is also potential pressure on water resources, aggregate resources, roading infrastructure, soil quality and natural areas in North Waikato.
But the report also noted any changes can create opportunities for Waikato people. For example, it said that “as Auckland grows, day trippers to the Waikato will increase, which means that the potential for growth based on servicing their interests and needs will increase”.
Science and strategy director Tracey May said it would be important to keep liaising with Auckland Council and Waikato District Council in particular about the issues raised by the report.
“We’re already doing a lot of work on the types of issues raised by the report,” said Ms May.
“The report’s findings will be helpful in developing the Waikato Spatial Plan, being carried out under the auspices of the Waikato Mayoral Forum, and in other strategies and planning documents.
“We will also need to develop a strategic response to Auckland pressures, such as the increasing demand for Waikato water over the long term.”