The alternative access to the Tauranga city council's Smiths Farm special housing area is approved, but won't be built until the New Zealand Transport Agency builds the Tauranga Northern Link.
But the real news for city councillors is that the land may instead of providing homes for hundreds of people may instead be required for its original purpose – sports fields.
“As you recall in the draft long term plan there are land purchases set aside for active reserves in Te Tumu and somewhere in the western corridor,” says city and infrastructure planning manager Andrew Meade.
“Those land purchases and the subsequent development of those sites are quite extensive and in the western corridor particularly there are limited options in term of acquiring land in good locations.
“So it is a small possibility that we may have to revert to thinking of Smiths Farm in that context again. We just want to signal that now.”
Work is under way to consider the options and staff expected to be able to inform councillors before the long Term Plan is finalised.
Meanwhile, councillors have approved the alternative access via Richards Way. The original access via the end of Westridge Drive was firmly opposed by lifestyle block Westridge Drive residents who didn't want the traffic volumes generated by the proposed urban special Housing area using their semi-rural access.
The protests resulted in the city council having another look at the access via Richards Way earlier discounted because of the expensive earthworks involved.
The current plan is to use material from the TNL project which will connect with Takitimu Drive north of Smiths Farm. Construction on that project is likely to begin in 2019 and is a four year project.
“From today it will be four or five years to have that road completed,” says Andrew.
The Smiths Farm access will go under the TNL, and not connect directly to it.
The approved plan also includes four new 3000m2 lots at the end of Westridge Drive to act as a buffer between the Westridge properties and the Special housing Area.
Replying to a question from Catherine Stewart Andrew says the access and utilities connections will be the same whether Smiths farm is sports fields or a housing area.
The latest cost estimate for the access road (including utilities and services) from NZTA's consultant BBO is $5.9m. The draft 2018-28 LTP financials include a more conservative figure of $10m based on a peer review of an earlier BBO costing by WT Partnership for TCC for the access road, plus a further $700,000 for water supply and a wastewater rising main.
NZTA have previously indicated that a subsidy of approximately 21 per cent could be available for the access road costs. To confirm this a funding application to NZTA is required using their business case approach.
Income to TCC from Smiths Farm will be determined by a number of factors including whether TCC sells the land for development, partners with a developer or undertakes the development itself.
TCC has previously engaged consultants to assess the value of the site for housing development. This information is commercially sensitive and has previously been supplied to elected members on a confidential basis. It confirms that there is a strong financial business case for construction of the access road.
Councillors approved the option that the NZTA will build the access road.