A Beca-sponsored poll of infrastructure leaders at the recent Infrastructure New Zealand Building Nations Symposium indicates confidence is growing that New Zealand can meet its infrastructure challenges, but suggests there needs to be greater detail shared with industry and the community around plans to address Auckland’s infrastructure needs. Respondents also believe that there needs to be greater urgency from all parties to implement those plans.
Over 700 industry leaders attended the Symposium and the Beca poll enabled delegates to provide real-time feedback on the key issues on the agenda.
Three-quarters of respondents felt New Zealand’s infrastructure situation will improve over the next five years.
Infrastructure NZ CEO Stephen Selwood said, “This high level of confidence reflects the Government’s announcement shortly before the poll that it will move forward with an independent infrastructure entity. The infrastructure body initiative was supported by almost 90 per cent of respondents. Concerns over weak procurement capability across the sector and uncertainty over the long term capital programme make the establishment of this new entity a high priority.
“The Government’s signals that it will reform the water sector are also assisting industry confidence. Less than 5 per cent of polled respondents felt the water sector should remain in its current state, with almost four out of five infrastructure leaders supporting consolidation of water supply and wastewater into one or several large dedicated providers.
“However, there remains significant sector concern over the ability of Auckland to meet the region’s two big challenges: housing and congestion.”
Three-quarters of respondents felt Auckland could not meet its transport and housing affordability needs under the current plan and almost four out of five felt that the $28 billion Auckland Transport Alignment Programme (ATAP) would not be sufficient to meet growth.
Rupert Hodson, Beca’s Northern Regional Manager, said, “Investment in light rail is a key component of ATAP and the results indicate that industry may need further information and engagement around the objectives and outcomes that light rail seeks to deliver. Light rail can be immensely valuable in supporting urban regeneration and intensification outcomes and accelerating transport mode shift through these corridors, which can deliver long term improvements in congestion, housing supply and affordability for Auckland.”
Around 90 per cent of respondents thought light rail would have some degree of impact on improving congestion, but around half also thought it will make housing less affordable along the serviced corridors.
Delegates identified the top three areas to address congestion as public transport investment, road pricing and intelligent transport systems.
Delegates agreed that the existing Metropolitan Urban Limit in Auckland has largely failed to promote a quality, compact, accessible city, with 81% believing that it has had a zero to negative impact on congestion in the city, and 89% citing a zero to negative impact on housing affordability.
“All in all, the polling suggests some positive changes are being made which gives confidence to the infrastructure industry that we can get on top of the big issues nationally, but further efforts to address Auckland’s transport and housing needs are required,” added Hodson.