Never negotiate out of fear; never fear to negotiate
The raison d’être for this publication is the Mahurangi landscape.
More specifically, the Mahurangi Magazine’s mission has been to help ensure that recognition of the harbourscape was a principal part of the Mahurangi Action Plan. And it is, although it appeared touch-and-go even quite recently.
The reason for the magazine’s obsession with landscape was awareness that the Northern Motorway was about to place unprecedented development pressure on Mahurangi West.
It didn’t happen; Mahurangi West temporarily dodged a bullet, courtesy of the global economic downturn.
Mahurangi West residents have had the best of both worlds: The luxury of motorway access, and no increase in demand for property.
And now, with the NZ Transport Agency suggesting that direct access should cease, once the motorway reaches Warkworth in about a decade, the bullet may have been dodged permanently.
It has been suggested that the district plan is the appropriate device to control development at Mahurangi West, not motorway access.
The district plan ostensibly does discourage residential development, but in practice it has largely failed to protect the rural look and feel of the scenic ridge road, without a great deal of development having taken place. With amalgamation of regional and local governance now a reality, the district plan is scheduled to be merged into a single plan for the region. This is where the Mahurangi Action Plan will be helpful towards the goal of appropriate protection for the harbourscape.
The motorway access issue has sharply polarised the Mahurangi West and Pūhoi communities:
- Those who consider direct access is non-negotiable
- Those who consider lack of direct access is a small price to pay for protecting the the Mahurangi harbourscape, and the character of Pūhoi.
Access to the motorway will continue unchanged for about the next ten years.
It is generally unwise to make decisions earlier than they actually need to be made. Aside from any other consideration, the agency will sooner or later be compelled to focus on transport for the future, rather than for the past.
Keeping access options open may only have a small impact on the design of the proposed motorway. By working collaboratively, the agency, community and council could agree to keep open the access options, whilst further developing appropriate planning devices. At the end of that collaboration, a solution satisfying most is a realistic possibility.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy:
Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.