West condemned to Commuter status unless it diversifies job base
A running theme through the comments department over the last month (although I have brought it up in the past) is the lack of an industrial complex of any size in West Auckland in comparison to the big five complexes in southern Auckland. The lack of such complexes (mainly heavy industrial complexes) in the West is part of the reason why West Auckland commutes a lot to the City Centre and to the complexes in the South. It also gives rise to the social consequences of not having a diverse job base such as social deprivation and unemployment (I believe now nudging South Auckland off that sorry mantle).
However, the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan will not address the employment via industry issue in any meaningful way.
Below is a zone map from the Unitary Plan. The yellow is the Future Urban Zone, land that can be flipped to residential, commercial or industrial. The cyan and darker cyan colours mark light and heavy industrial zoning.
You can see the lack of any sizable heavy industrial zoning (let alone light industry zones) in West Auckland compared to southern Auckland. This creates the situation of the West being a commuter area with the bulk of commuters travelling to either the City Centre or the South with its industrial complexes. This is in comparison to the majority of southern Auckland commuting within itself.
However, not is all to despair with the West and a diverse employment base.
I have circled two areas in West Auckland that might be prime for heavy industrial zoning. The larger one would replace the light industrial zone north of the Westgate Metropolitan Centre. The same with the Kumeu industrial zone as well. Both areas have ample Future Urban Zone around them and are connected to either State Highway 16, the rail line or both (with Kumeu) so the transport links (freight and passenger) are there already.
The Kumeu area having the North Auckland Line running through it makes it also prime candidate for a rail intermodal freight port like the ones in the South. This allows the area to “service” the primary industries up in Northland and get the freight either to another industrial site for manufacture or to Port of Auckland for exporting. Zoning heavy industry and the operation of a rail inter-modal freight port in Kumeu might also take the pressure off the scarcity of industrial land in the South at moment as well.
The heavy industrial zoning also caters for a wider range of activities that might be more restricted in the Light Industry or Mixed Use Zones. Film studios comes to mind being able to take up residence in the heavy industrial zone (providing other background noise was not too bad).
So perhaps if the West wanted to diverse its employment base and remedy some of the level of commuting that they do now maybe Councillors Webster, Cooper and Deputy Mayor Hulse should push for some rezoning towards heavy industry up in the West.