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Committee progresses unitary plan changes, city centre masterplan, waterfront, Panuku programme, Onehunga project, land transport, northern corridor, Whenuapai, sites of significance

Auckland Council’s planning committee began its 6-hour meeting yesterday with input from advocates of no port extension into the Waitemata Harbour, and of relocating the freight operation.

Shortly after, the committee gave its support in principle to an inner dolphin off Queens Wharf as the preferred option for berthing large cruise ships.

The public input came from Shane Vuletich for Urban Auckland, Committee for Auckland & Stop Stealing our Harbour, with Richard Didsbury, Sir Stephen Tindall & Julie Stout.

But the bulk of the day’s meeting was about the “refresh” of the council’s overarching Auckland Plan, completed in 2012 and up for its first review.

The committee has held 4 workshops and had numerous presentations on the Auckland Plan, but also on various other planning documents since last October’s election.

The committee approved a streamlined approach rather than fullscale review with the intention of making the plan more strategic, integrated, focused on spatial issues, a smaller document and one that will be digitally accessible.

It approved a process of early targeted engagement with communities from May-June  on Auckland’s big issues and on the high level strategic direction of the refreshed Auckland Plan.

This article is a brief summary of matters the committee considered. I’ll write in more detail in a few days.

Other items considered:

Item 10, city centre masterplan delivery & implementation, 3 projects to be updated:

  • Victoria linear park & midtown east-west public transport
  • Quay St harbour edge boulevard & Hobson St flyover
  • Queen St, issue identification & project implications.

Item 11, Waterfront planning & implementation:

A targeted refresh of the waterfront plan is underway, focusing on development of Wynyard Pt and optimising the use of the central wharves. 

Item 12, Update on Panuku work programme:

The committee endorsed Avondale as an “unlock” location, where Panuku facilitates development opportunities for private sector investment in town centres.

A high level project plan will go to the committee later this year for approval.

Item 13, Onehunga high level project plan:

The committee adopted Panuku Development Auckland’s high level project plan for the transformation of the Onehunga town centre & surrounding area.

Item 14, Submission on draft national policy statement on land transport:

The committee approved the council’s submission.

Item 15, Northern corridor improvements project, political reference group & delegations:

The committee approved extending delegations so the reference group can provide direction & decisions on the council’s position during the board of inquiry hearing on east-west link project.

Item 19, Unitary plan (operative in part) – future plan changes and processing of private plan changes:

A report was presented on future council-initiated changes to the new unitary plan and the committee approved the criteria for dealing with private plan changes over the next 2 years.

Item 16, Draft Whenuapai plan change – approval & public engagement:

The committee approved a consultation process that will allow for the implementation of the Whenuapai structure plan, which the council approved last September. Public consultation will run from 10 April-14 May.

Item 17, Development of plan change to the unitary plan & Hauraki Gulf islands section of the district plan on sites of significance to mana whenua:

The committee gave approval for the council to engage with mana whenua & landowners on 270 nominated sites of significance to mana whenua as the next step to preparing a plan change. 

Item 18, Unitary plan, assessment of errors to produce the first 2 administrative plan changes:

The committee agreed to develop 2 administrative plan changes, one to correct errors, anomalies & technical details to the text & maps and the other to correct errors in the notable tree schedule.

Links – from committee agenda:
9, Auckland Plan refresh, engagement approach & proposed options

<ahref=”http://infocouncil.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/Open/2017/03/PLA_20170328_AGN_6720_AT.htm#PDF2_ReportName_52321″ target=”_blank”>10, Auckland city centre masterplan (2012): Delivery & implementation, progress update
Addendum (item 11)
11, Waterfront planning & implementation
Mooring options
Inner dolphin section & plan views
12, Panuku work programme, update
13, Onehunga, high level project
14, Draft government policy statement on land transport, submission
15, Northern corridor improvements project, political reference group & delegations
16, Draft Whenuapai plan change, approval & public engagement
17, Development of plan change to unitary plan (operative in part) and the district plan (Hauraki Gulf islands section), sites of significance to mana whenua
18, Unitary plan (operative in part), assessment of errors to produce the first 2 administrative plan changes
19, Unitary plan (operative in part), future plan changes and processing of private plan changes
20, Summary of planning committee information memos & briefings
Attachment A, 2 March, Staff submission on the Telecommunication Act Review: post-2020 regulatory framework for fixed line services
Attachment B, 22 March, East-West Link, submission
Attachment C, 22 March, northern corridor improvements project, submission
Attachment D, 20 March, structure plans, memo to planning committee members
Attachment E, 15 February, future urban land supply strategy, refresh workshop documents
Attachment F, 1 March, city rail link, briefing documents
Attachment G, 1 March, Auckland Plan refresh, workshop 3 documents
Attachment H, 7 March, city-airport briefing documents (not included)
Attachment I, 10 March, central city waterfront, planning workshop documents
Attachment J, 15 March, Auckland Plan refresh, workshop 4 documents

Related story today:
Start with a figure you don’t know, then plan accordingly….

Attribution: Committee meeting, council staff report.

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Productivity Commission goes back to first principles on urban planning

The Productivity Commission said today it had taken a “first principles” approach to planning in its investigation of urban planning and what it might be. The commission issued its final report, Better urban planning, this morning.

The commission said: “This inquiry should not constitute a critique of previous or ongoing reforms to the systems or legislation which make up the urban planning system. Rather, it is intended to take a ‘first principles’ approach to the urban planning system.”

Its final report stretches to 498 pages and I haven’t read the whole document yet. Below are some of its key points and none of the recommendations. I’ll get into further detail over the next week.

The current planning system – the commission’s diagnosis:

  • Planning legislation lacks clarity & focus, and is prone to overreach
  • Too little direction & guidance from central government
  • Prioritisation is difficult
  • The system lacks responsiveness
  • Protection of Maori interests is inconsistent

What changes are needed?

  • New mechanisms & models to overcome supply failure
  • More responsive infrastructure provision
  • Better planning & better quality plans through spatial planning & reviews by independent hearings panels
  • More representative, less rigid consultation
  • Wider recognition and protection of Maori interests
  • Stronger & different capabilities & culture within councils & central government

At the end of that list of changes, the commission report says: “Central government will also need to substantially improve its understanding of urban planning and knowledge of, and engagement with, the local government sector. It will be under a strong obligation to exercise effective regulatory stewardship of the planning system.”

Central government role

Under the first heading on necessary changes, New mechanisms & models to overcome supply failure, the report says: “A clearer statute and clearer direction & expectations from central government will push councils in high growth cities to do more to meet the demand for development capacity.

“The recently published national policy statement on urban development capacity is a step in the right direction. But these councils will need more help to meet the challenge of their rapidly growing populations. That help should start with:

  • clear legislative purposes & objectives for the natural & built environments
  • principles to guide plan-making, planning processes & decision-making, and
  • systematic, independent & timely reviews of plans.

“In line with these objectives, principles & the reviews, plans should:

  • have clearer & broader “development envelopes” within which low-risk & mixed development is either permitted or is only subject to minimal controls
  • only apply rules that offer a clear net benefit, where the link to externalities is clear and where alternative approaches are not feasible
  • put greater reliance on pricing & market-based tools rather than rules
  • constrain attempts to force the creation of economic, social or environmental benefits through restrictive rules (eg, planning policies that attempt to promote density in the expectation that this will necessarily lead to higher productivity)
  • recognise inherent limits exist to what land-use planning can achieve, and give greater room & respect to the decisions of individuals & firms
  • have broader zones that allow more uses
  • make less use of subjective & vague aesthetic rules & policies, and
  • depend more on local evidence to support land use rules, instead of relying on heuristics generated from overseas studies (eg, assumptions that higher density urban areas necessarily result in their residents behaving more sustainably).”

To complement these improvements, the report says a future planning system should:

  • employ price-trigger mechanisms that credibly guarantee that councils will permit enough development capacity to meet demand at reasonable prices
  • deploy, where appropriate, urban development authorities to assemble & develop inner-city land at a scale sufficient to meet business, residential & mobility needs
  • enable councils to auction development rights as a way to achieve increased, but not excessive, inner-city density, and
  • create competitive urban land markets that open opportunities for the private sector to invest in out-of-sequence community developments. These can sidestep land bankers’ stranglehold on land supply and avoid additional burdens on councils for infrastructure.

5 critical goals

Productivity Commission chair Murray Sherwin wrote in his foreword to the final report: “As the inquiry progressed, it became clear that to make the greatest contribution to wellbeing, the planning system needs to deliver on 5 critical goals:

“First, it has to be flexible & responsive to changing needs, preferences, technology & information.

“Second, it has to provide sufficient development capacity to meet demand. The harmful effect of spiralling house prices is indicative of a serious imbalance between supply & demand.

“Third, planning systems need to allow mobility of residents & goods to & through our cities in order to get to jobs & other activities.

“Fourth, the system has to be able to fit land-use activities within well defined environmental limits.

“And lastly, the planning system needs to recognise & actively protect Maori interests in the built & natural environments arising from the Treaty of Waitangi.”

Mr Sherwin said the current system was failing to deliver on these goals:

“We can see that the system is under stress in failing not only to cope with the challenges of high growth cities, but also to protect important parts of New Zealand’s natural environment. These failures point to weaknesses in the design & operation of New Zealand’s planning system. Few of the many participants in the inquiry were happy with the current system, and many were strongly critical, believing the Resource Management Act had not worked out as intended, or needed a substantial overhaul.

“We set out what a future planning framework should look like. While some aspects of the proposed new planning architecture will be recognisable, much of it will not. We have taken the ‘blue skies’ mandate from Government seriously and offer fundamental & far-reaching recommendations for a future land-use planning & resource management system.

“We believe that following these recommendations will provide substantial benefits. Getting a planning & resource management system that is fit for purpose has the potential to deliver access to affordable housing & well paying jobs, in vibrant, dynamic & liveable cities and in a country where the natural environment is cherished & protected.”

Mr Sherwin said he and commission members Professor Sally Davenport & Dr Graham Scott oversaw the preparation of this report.

Professor Davenport is professor of management at Victoria University of Wellington’s school of management. Dr Scott is executive chair of Southern Cross Advisers Ltd, which specialises in advising on public sector reform globally. He is also a consulting director in the Sapere Research Group.

Links:
Productivity Commission, 29 March 2017: Better urban planning, final report
Productivity Commission, 19 August 2016:
What would a high-performing planning system look like?
Urban planning: What’s broken and how to fix it
Better urban planning, draft report

Related stories today:
Start with a figure you don’t know, then plan accordingly….
Productivity Commission goes back to first principles on urban planning

Earlier stories, 22 August 2016, on draft report:
Productivity Commission urban planning report blunt, measured & perceptive
Commission sees government change as essential for urban planning
Commission says everything English wanted on planning

Earlier story:
11 December 2015: Planning system is next Productivity Commission target

Attribution: Productivity Commission.

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Start with a figure you don’t know, then plan accordingly….

How many people will migrate to New Zealand this year, and over the next 5 years? Nobody knows. The Government might – ought to – have a very good idea but hasn’t been telling anybody. Immigration is a very good tool for economic uplift and therefore supports central government political incumbents – albeit this can get out of hand, as it did in 2003-04 under Labour and again in the last 4 years under the National-led government, and it has an array of mostly bad side effects that our politicians and also bureaucrats have proved they are not skilled at grappling with.

The influx – a spike in population growth – is at the heart of land planning complications.

The Government sought an answer from the Productivity Commission in 2015 and the commission responded last August with a draft report which I thought was perceptive.

The commission has released its final report today. It runs to 498 pages and I haven’t read the whole document. After I have read it all, I’ll write more about it.

But a quick read through the main points, the summary of what the commission believed it should be looking for and some of the recommendations leaves me uneasy.

The central issue

Our central issue – a migrant spike 12-13 years ago and a second spike this decade, which was stretched out as Kiwis came home from the first seriously prolonged downturn in the Australian economy in nearly 50 years – is one that can be handled better in future but is causing ongoing problems of land supply, affordability & infrastructure demand in Auckland.

It’s been exacerbated by the low cost of debt and very ready supply of credit, both locally & internationally. Without being brought under some restraint, virtually free credit will continue to thwart financial & economic planning by concentrating investment in certain assets, such as housing.

The first planning question

In planning, the first question to be resolved is the accuracy of population growth projections. That’s mostly a question for the Government, but Australia’s economy is also relevant. Australia will start to grow again in a couple of years, and the reversal of migrant flow could be very quick.

Second is the immediate supply issue. Auckland Council’s unitary plan, post-independent hearings panel input, mostly provides for improved supply of residential land and partly provides for more business land, special housing areas are a further response to the residential issue and supply ought to improve over the next couple of years.

But availability doesn’t automatically lead to development. Developers get defeated by cyclical downturns which always start the day before they’ve cemented their financial position in place, without needing politicians to stare them down, demanding development on slimmer margins going into a period of great international uncertainty.

The public sector ought to have been involved for the whole of this decade in assisting the supply of truly affordable housing – not the piecemeal supply of “affordable” houses in a range of $6-700,000 on small sections (allowing for no extension).

The third issue is longer-term

And the third issue is the longer-term handling of community creation – not rushed suburbs, not long commutes by car, not “town centres” which are only shops.

The original Auckland Plan completed by the new super-city Auckland Council in 2012 went some way towards envisaging more & better communities, and the new one which has been in front of the council’s planning committee since shortly after last October’s elections will improve the focus.

Even so, too little work has been done on stopping Auckland from being the city of the long commute.

Today’s stories – and for the next week

Today’s story on the Productivity Commission’s final report highlights points the commission believed it should work on, from a ‘first principles’ basis, and changes it’s suggested.

While I was at the Town Hall for Auckland Council’s planning committee meeting yesterday, I spent a large amount of my time trying to digest a huge volume of documentation on a range of topics relating to both the unitary plan and the “refresh”, as it’s been called, of the council’s umbrella planning document, the Auckland Plan.

Today’s story on that will be extremely brief, pointing you to content and ignoring the questions & points made at yesterday’s meeting.

The full version will take several articles over the next few days.

Links:
Productivity Commission, 29 March 2017: Better urban planning, final report
Productivity Commission, 19 August 2016:
What would a high-performing planning system look like?
Urban planning: What’s broken and how to fix it
Better urban planning, draft report

Related stories today:
Start with a figure you don’t know, then plan accordingly….
Productivity Commission goes back to first principles on urban planning

Earlier stories, 22 August 2016, on draft report:
Productivity Commission urban planning report blunt, measured & perceptive
Commission sees government change as essential for urban planning
Commission says everything English wanted on planning

Earlier story:
11 December 2015: Planning system is next Productivity Commission target

Attribution: Productivity Commission report, Auckland Council committee meeting & agenda.

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Research shows walkups take bigger share of apartment market

The ubiquitous Sydney 3-floor walkup, made popular over 60 years ago when new regulations required a lift in apartment buildings over 3 storeys, is at last starting to attract attention in Auckland.

CBRE Research NZ senior director Zoltan Moricz and research analyst Tamba Carleton say in a paper out today that walkup projects in the development pipeline have increased from 5 in March 2015 to 17 this month.

Over those 2 years, according to CBRE research, the whole apartment development pipeline has grown from 68 projects to 121, and the number of units in them from 4700 to 8600.

Mr Moricz & Ms Carleton said: “The apartment pipeline has undergone significant change in response to the evolution of market fundamentals as Auckland continues through its third apartment development cycle.

“Some of the challenges facing the sector that have recently garnered attention include: rising construction costs, tougher bank lending criteria & presale requirements, the effect of loan:value ratio rules and affordability. These & other factors have influenced the emergence of a ‘walkup’ style of apartment living, driven by a lower construction cost that has a flow-on effect through relative affordability to appeal to a wider demand base and enhance project feasibility.”

Walkups are defined as vertically attached dwellings that are in 2- or 3-storey buildings. They differ from terraced housing, which is defined as horizontally attached dwellings.

The apartment tradition in Auckland & Wellington is for buildings over 3 storeys, but the CBRE researchers said one of the main drivers of growth had been the significantly lower construction cost of walkups compared to traditional apartment building costs: “While construction costs for walkups in Auckland are broadly similar to terraced housing, they are about two-thirds the cost of traditional apartments. This proportion decreases further as traditional apartment building scale increases.

“In general, walkups are less complex to build than traditional apartment buildings and do not incur additional costs related to sprinkler systems & elevators, which are mandatory for buildings that are 4 or more levels in height.

“There is a separate issue affecting construction costs of high density projects, in that fewer construction companies have the capability & resources to undertake projects over a certain size, which pushes up the construction cost of highrise buildings.”

For the current Auckland apartment pipeline, the average cost/m² across all projects was 30% above the average for walk-ups, and that difference flowed through to the time it took to sell a project down: “While there are material differences between projects, walkups tend to sell down over 90% within 3 quarters of launch, compared to 60% for traditional apartments.”

Auckland’s new unitary plan will also make a difference, as the impact of rezoning the bulk of suburbia to enable more intensive development starts to be felt.

Attribution: Agency research.

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Clochemerle lives again – in Tekapo

It was a grand event on the scale and with the gravity, pomp & national importance of Clochemerle, the opening of a public urinal in a French village made famous by a 1972 BBC television series, and it came with a grand Government media release headed, New Tekapo toilets open for business.

The narrator in that television series, the multi-talented Peter Ustinov, would have done the opening of the new Government-sponsored public toilets in Tekapo proud, but he wasn’t available, having died in 2004. So the job of officiating fell to Associate Tourism Minister Nicky Wagner, there to espouse the benefits to humanity of the Government’s Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Grant Fund, which co-funded Tekapo’s 2 new toilet blocks, one near the Church of the Good Shepherd and the other in the Mackenzie country township.

She may have proudly muttered “Every second longdrop is ours” on her way to this splendid event, but I can’t confirm that as I was safely ensconced in the Auckland Town Hall listening to the debate & presentations on council long-term plans for even more magnificent infrastructure.

The Mackenzie District Council received $405,000 from the fund last year for the construction of the Tekapo toilet blocks – manna from an outfit which, to me, seems to have been ever so slightly tightfisted in parting with any largesse arising from the growing gst windfall it’s received from New Zealand’s rising tourist numbers.

Ms Wagner told her audience: “Tekapo is an iconic Kiwi location, but this little town of around 400 people receives in excess of 100,000 visitors/month in the summer season, and we were seeing high demand for new facilities.

“It’s great to see this fund in action, helping smaller communities like Tekapo respond to growth in visitor numbers by developing new & enhanced infrastructure.

“There is no doubt tourism benefits the area — international & domestic visitors spent around $723 million in South Canterbury in the year to January, an 8% jump on 2016. Tourism drives growth & job creation in this region, as in so many others around the country.”

The Government developed the Regional Mid-sized Tourism Facilities Grant Fund as part of its tourism strategy “to help regions benefit from growth while managing the pressures it places on communities & infrastructure”.

The Government allocated $12 million – over 4 years – for the fund in its 2016 Budget and announced an additional $5.5 million this month. The Tekapo toilets are one of 14 approved projects from the first funding round, held last year. A second funding round is open until 12 April.

Deputy Prime Minister & Tourism Minister Paula Bennett flushed most of a $1.4 billion council wish list for tourism-related projects down the toilet 2 weeks ago, saying most of the listed projects were “either already funded by other areas of Government, are not considered a priority or should be funded by local councils”.

She recognised that tourism had become a $14.5 billion/year export earner and that these visitors “are incredibly important to our economy, particularly in the regions.”

But the return to those regions trying to cope with record tourist numbers is a drop in the bucket, on Local Government NZ president Lawrence Yule’s count. He said the gst contribution to the Government from international visitors rose from $950 million in the March 2015 year to $1.5 billion in the March 2016 year.

Local Government NZ & major tourism organisations want a national tourism infrastructure levy which, between the industry and matching Government contributions, would generate $130 million/year to fund local tourism infrastructure needs.

Clochemerle was a 1934 satirical novel by French author Gabriel Chevallier on the conflicts between Catholics & Republicans during the French Third Republic, which ran from 1870 until it collapsed at the start of the Second World War.

Link:
Grant fund

Earlier story:
16 Mach 2017: Bennett rejects councils’ tourism infrastructure funding list

Attribution: Ministerial release, Wikipedia.

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5% revaluation gain for Goodman

The Goodman Property Trust’s manager said yesterday year-end revaluations would lift net tangible asset backing by 7.5c/unit, but the announcement did nothing for the unit price.

The units closed on the NZX at $1.20 on Friday, gained 2c yesterday to $1.22 – the asset backing/unit last September – but dropped back to $1.205 today.

Goodman (NZ) Ltd chief executive John Dakin said draft valuation reports from independent valuers indicated that the property portfolio would record a full-year gain of about $115 million, or about 5%, taking the current value over $2.4 billion.

He said the valuation result reflected the continuing demand for high quality industrial property. The revaluation remains subject to finalisation & independent audit. The trust will provide more details when it releases its annual result on 18 May.

Attribution: Company release.

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Augusta unconditional as second tenant signed for Broadway development

Augusta Capital Ltd has gone unconditional on its purchase for syndication of Mercury Energy Ltd’s new headquarters at 33 Broadway, Newmarket, where construction is just starting.

Mercury Energy will be the anchor tenant, consolidating its 4 Auckland offices in the one 5-green-star building and occupying over half the development at the roundabout across the road from the Newmarket Olympic pool. The company will be on a 12-year lease. Augusta managing director Mark Francis also confirmed Tegel Foods today as an office tenant.

Augusta subsidiary Augusta Funds Management Ltd will raise $83.5 million of equity through a unit trust to be established to acquire the property. Augusta Capital will underwrite $33.5 million and other parties the balance of the capital raising.

Mr Francis said a product disclosure statement was being prepared and the offer should be open for investment in mid-April. No money is being sought yet.

The building is under construction by Mansons Broadway Ltd with settlement (but not building completion) scheduled for 1 July. Mansons will provide a 10-year capex guarantee from completion.

When Augusta entered into the agreement in December to acquire the unfinished development, Augusta managing director Mark Francis said it was a new phase in syndicate investment strategy: “Augusta believes this transaction signals a key strategic step as it moves from not simply being a buyer of investment grade assets but into funding & development of investment grade assets.”

The total consideration is $143,111,878, with a fixed amount payable at settlement, further drawdowns made on a cost-to-complete basis as the development progresses, and retention amounts payable on achievement of certain development & leasing milestones.

Earlier stories:
20 February 2017: Augusta launches Mercury syndication
22 December 2016:  Augusta takes new step in syndication

Attribution: Company release.

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Kiwi proposal for NPT finalised “in next few days”

NPT Ltd expects to conclude arrangements with Kiwi Property Group Ltd in the next few days on Kiwi’s proposal for NPT’s future.

NPT chief executive Tony Osborne said today the company expected to hold a special shareholder meeting in April.

Kiwi has proposed:

It will sell The Majestic Centre & North City Shopping Centre (the Kiwi Properties) to NPT for $230 million
It will pay NPT a one-off $6 million to acquire the right to manage NPT & its property portfolio, and
It will take a cornerstone shareholding in NPT of about 19.9%.

Earlier stories:
6 March 2017: NPT works through detail of Kiwi bid
12 January 2017: Augusta drops court action but NPT meeting likely delayed
8 January 2017: NPT interim report shows company treading water
14 December 2016: Kiwi proposal for NPT revealed
2 December 2016: Augusta gets February court date while NPT continues with meeting plan
23 November 2016: Lack of revaluations halves NPT profit
4 November 2016: NPT considering more than just Augusta’s proposal
31 October 2016: 
Fourth era for NPT a hard option to combat
27 September 2016: 
Augusta buys 9% of NPT

Attribution: Company release.

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Goff raises funding question as airport mass transit corridor agreed

Auckland Council & the Government have agreed to start route protection for a mass transit corridor between Auckland Airport & the city centre. The route will be along Dominion Rd.

The NZ Transport Agency & Auckland Transport worked together to develop a joint solution that will progress from bus services to a light rail transit solution.

The study found an advanced bus option could provide a credible solution over the next 30 years that could progress from the current bus-based system to a long-term solution.

Transport Minister Simon Bridges said on Friday: “By drawing on international expertise, they have identified a range of opportunities for bus travel through a separated corridor, using innovative technology & customer-focused solutions.

“In the medium to long term, this will make it possible for a staged, integrated transition to light rail along the preferred ‘airport-city’ route based on future demand & capacity.

“This work follows the Auckland transport alignment project that identified the future pressure on mass transit corridors and the need for route protection to ensure future economic growth & productivity.”

Mayor Phil Goff welcomed the agreement: “With nearly 18 million passenger arrivals/year at Auckland Airport, a mass transit alternative to growing gridlock is critical. And the growth in employment in the airport precinct, adding further pressure on the roads, also makes a public transport option important.

Goff: many issues to resolve

“This report recognises the problem of ever-increasing congestion on the route between the airport & the city, the 2 fastest-growing employment areas in Auckland. We need immediately to protect routes for the bus rapid transit/light rail option, including from the airport to Manukau & Botany. Future-proofing our city is vital.”

But Mr Goff said many issues still had to be resolved: “Work should begin on identifying triggers for making the transition. Bus lanes are consistent with later conversion to a light rail service. However, if light rail is needed within just a few years, there is a question as to why we shouldn’t just move immediately to that solution. Secondly, bringing forward a mass transit route to the airport adds urgency to the need to find new revenue streams to fund it.”

NZTA director outlines workstreams

Transport Agency Auckland regional director Ernst Zöllner said: “Further work will be done to assess key operational elements, required trade-offs, flow-on effects, transition impacts & network resilience issues.

“The agency & Auckland Transport will work together with Auckland Council to determine an integrated approach that enables a progression from the current bus services & bus lanes to improved bus services in the short-term. This will potentially be followed by higher capacity buses and a dedicated bus mass transit right of way, before a transition to light rail transit could occur.

“The timing for this transition will be based on demand, capacity & funding.

“The most recent advanced bus solution study commissioned by the NZ Transport Agency is a useful input into existing data and builds on previous studies such as the central access plan, the south-western multi-modal airport rapid transit study and the Auckland transport alignment project with Auckland Council.”

Mr Zöllner said the transport agency had also taken immediate measures in the 2015-18 national land transport programme to deliver improved public transport solutions around the greater airport area, which supported a package of short-term improvements being developed to address urgent access issues.

Auckland Transport chief executive David Warburton said: “The agencies have agreed and confirmed through various studies that Dominion Rd is the preferred route, and we all acknowledge not only the importance of the airport precinct & the city centre, but the public transport access & connectivity that is needed along the route.

“Any transition plan needs to consider the lead time required for transition steps such as construction timeframes, and the continued operation of the network in delivering the best value-for-money option.

In parallel, work will be undertaken to progress route protection of the south-eastern connection from the airport to Manukau City Centre and east to Botany to ensure good connections to the airport & its surrounding employment zones.

“The NZ Transport Agency & Auckland Transport will also continue to work with Auckland Council & Auckland International Airport Ltd to jointly develop & implement a package of short-term access improvements to the airport.”

Attribution: NZTA, mayoral, Auckland Transport releases.

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Tracking ideas Sun26Mar17 – Melbourne plan review, value of transit, world-changing ideas

Backyards protected in Melbourne plan review
Agency measures the value of a bus stop or station to house prices
Fast Company rates Homes for hope

Tracking ideas is a Bob Dey Property Report section devoted to ideas on property questions such as urban strategies & design, many from overseas but with relevance to Auckland.

Backyards protected in Melbourne plan review

In a defensive change this month the Melbourne plan through to 2050, Victoria’s Labor Government instituted a requirement for suburban development to provide space for a traditional backyard.

“There will no longer be a cap on how many dwellings can be built on a block (section), but new requirements mean developments must have a mandatory percentage of garden space…. Under new rules, blocks between 400-500m² require a 25% minimum garden area, blocks between 501-600m² need 30%, and blocks larger than 650m² must have a 35% garden area: It’s all about giving more Victorians access to the outdoor space that is the cornerstone of great homes, and giving kids more opportunities to form their childhood memories in backyards every day all over the state.”

The state government said the plan was aimed at integrating long-term land use, infrastructure & transport planning: “It sets out the strategy for supporting jobs & growth, while building on Melbourne’s legacy of distinctiveness, liveability & sustainability.”

The plan includes:

  • 9 principles to guide policies & actions
  • 7 outcomes to strive for in creating a competitive, liveable & sustainable city
  • 32 directions outlining how these outcomes will be achieved, and
  • 90 policies detailing how these directions will be turned into action.

Links:
Plan Melbourne 2017-50
11 March 2017: Plan Melbourne 2017-50 change
11 March 2017: Australian Policy Online, Plan Melbourne 2017-50

Agency measures the value of a bus stop or station to house prices

A Seattle-based online real estate agency which has measured the value of transit to a house’s price said its analysis showed one transit score point could increase the value by an average 0.6%, or $US2040.

Those transit scores could be substantial – in San Francisco, transit could be worth 80 points, at $US4845/point, adding $US387,600 to the $US950,000 median house value, according to the analysis.

At the other end of the scale, in Orange County, California, proximity to public transport actually made a home less valuable, by $US201/point for an average home. The median price in the county was $US580,000 and the agency, Redfin, ascribed a 27-point value to transit there, so the cut for being near an Orange bus stop or station was only $US5427.

Redfin agent Keith Thomas said: “Most people in Orange County prefer to drive their own cars – few would consider any other way to get around. Parking is easy to come by and traffic isn’t bad, so it makes sense that public transit doesn’t impact the price of a home the way it would in a more urban area like LA.”

Redfin did its analysis of a million homes sold in 14 major metropolitan areas between January 2014-April 2016. The transit score measured the usefulness & convenience of public transport (bus, subway, light rail, ferry, etc) routes near a given location.

Links:
20 March 2017, Builder: Redfin values proximity to transit
20 March 2017: Redfin study

Fast Company rates Homes for hope

The Fast Company website called up 25 judges to assess over a thousand entries from around the world for its first world-changing ideas awards, and reduced the thousand to 12 winners, including one relating to property. 19 of the 192 finalists were concerned with urban design and one finalist was from New Zealand.

The University of Southern California’s School of Architecture combined forces with Madworkshop Homeless Studio to produce Homes for hope: “Students designed modular houses that can be stacked and provide fast & simple housing to get people off the streets. Each 92ft² (8.6m²) unit comes with a bed, dresser and even a desk. In groups of 30, with a base unit that contains bathrooms, shared living & dining spaces, and courtyards, the houses are designed to utilise the city’s large swathes of vacant land by creating easily assembled communities that work within the city’s zoning laws and serve as a bridge home to keep people sheltered before they move to more permanent housing.”

The global impact visa

The New Zealand entry was the Edmund Hillary Fellowship’s global impact visa, launched last year.

The fellowship’s mission: To incubate solutions to global problems from New Zealand and make a lasting positive impact on the world… to serve as a platform to best leverage humankind’s creative potential & entrepreneurial spirit to build new paradigms, and create scalable solutions for the rest of the world.”

Links:
20 March 2017, inaugural Fast Company world-changing ideas awards
Edmund Hillary Fellowship

Attribution: Victorian Government, Redfin, Fast Company.

Regular leads: Planetizen

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