New Plymouth and Hastings will collectively receive funding of $7.28m to become New Zealand's first walking and cycling model communities.
Announcing the decision, Central Regional Director Jenny Chetwynd said the NZ Transport Agency has approved the funding in the walking and cycling activity class of the National Land Transport Programme. New Plymouth District Council and Hastings District Council will receive $3.71m and $3.57m respectively over the 2010/11 and 2011/12 financial years.
“The purpose of this investment is to help create an environment that will make walking and cycling easy transport choices for people in New Plymouth and Hastings. Through this funding we’re also encouraging the council to integrate walking and cycling into their transport planning and other initiatives,” Ms Chetwynd said.
The process of selecting model communities started in January when councils were invited to submit expressions of interest. The NZTA evaluated 22 proposals before approaching Nelson, New Plymouth, Hastings and Taupo to progress to stage two of the process, developing detailed funding proposals. New Plymouth and Hastings were then selected as model communities. Hastings District Council will also receive $3.6m over the next two years as a walking and cycling model community.
“Overall New Plymouth and Hastings demonstrated the leadership and commitment to best integrate walking and cycling as an integral part of their communities. They’ve displayed a real passion to develop their communities as great places to live, work and play, and to make walking and cycling easy transport choices,” Ms Chetwynd said.
Ms Chetwynd said the NZTA’s model communities investment was being made in provincial towns rather than suburbs of larger metropolitan cities because it will be more cost effective in towns with less complex transport networks, which are easier to expand and have lower capital costs. It is also easier to manage traffic levels and promote active transport as the preferred choice in smaller centres.
“We also think the investment will be put to best use where it is more likely that the whole community’s enthusiasm can be harnessed,” Ms Chetwynd said.
Ms Chetwynd said the high level of interest from councils and the quality of the proposals the NZTA received, particularly those from the two other shortlisted councils, Nelson and Taupo, shows there is real commitment and passion for walking and cycling in New Zealand.
“Ultimately New Plymouth and Hastings were able to demonstrate that through this model community initiative, they would be able to deliver the greatest benefits to their respective cities over a short two year time period of this funding package. We were also delighted with the quality of the applications from Nelson and Taupo, who have also shown they're well ahead of the pack in the progress they have made towards making their cities outstanding walking and cycling communities. We look forward to continuing to work with them in fostering this enthusiasm and leadership."
“We will now be working closely with New Plymouth and Hastings to progress their approved programmes, and for the next two years we’ll also be focussing on learning as much as we can about investing in model communities, so this knowledge can be shared with the many other communities who have shown real enthusiasm about moving in this direction,” Ms Chetwynd said.