Bridge plan suspended over lack of landowner support

Posted at 1:58pm Monday 01 Jul, 2019

Hopes for a spectacular 70-metre long suspension bridge over native bush between Warkworth Showgrounds and Kowhai Park Reserve appear to have been scuppered by landowners unwilling or unable to support the $335,000 Rodney Local Board pedestrian and cycle project.

Instead, the Board has been forced to move forward with an alternative route and has approved a more prosaic wooden bridge and concrete path that goes through the old Atlas site, which has been earmarked as a future park and ride site.

The original concept design from 2017 provided the shortest and most direct route, with a 35-metre boardwalk and the suspension bridge linking the existing Kowhai Park path with the Showgrounds, plus the Melwood subdivision, via Heritage Lane. The bridge would have crossed a deep gully of largely native bush jointly owned by Auckland Council and three private landowners.

Although initial discussions with the private landowners seemed promising, efforts by Board staff and members to obtain formal support from them in 2018 proved fruitless, so alternative  routes were sought, avoiding the privately owned and covenanted land.

Three new routes were considered – Concept 2, a 70-metre suspension bridge, with 58 metres of boardwalk and concrete pathway; Concept 3, a 110-metre suspension bridge, with 60 metres of boardwalk and concrete pathway; and Concept 4, a 15-metre timber bridge with 450 metres of concrete pathway.

Last month's Local Board meeting heard that Concept 2 and Concept 3 would cost $398,000 and $560,000 respectively, while Concept 4 worked out around the same price as the original plan.

Although Concept 4 would be the longest and least direct route from Heritage Lane, it would have the least ecological and visual impact on the surrounding reserve area. However, Board members conceded that it would be less of a visitor drawcard than the original suspension bridge plan, and the redevelopment of the Atlas site could affect timing issues.

Local Board chair Beth Houlbrooke said plans for the new path had been in the pipeline for a couple of years and they needed to be progressed to attract Growth Funds, the fees paid by developers applying for a resource consent used to fund infrastructure.

“We're well aware we had originally had a vision of a suspension bridge, but that's shelved for now,” she said. “It could happen in the future, but for now we need to move forward with the Atlas site and Concept 4.”

She said the new route would still provide safe pedestrian and cycle access from Warkworth through two reserves, well away from State Highway 1, and open up opportunities for recreation, fitness and commuting.

“It's going to be an incredible community asset coupled with the upgraded Kowhai Park and the soon to be developed park and ride facility funded by the Rodney Transport Targeted Rate,” she said.

Council staff will develop the path concept more fully, then obtain feedback from the community, sports and other groups, before detailed designs, plans and costs are developed and consents sought.


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