Archive | Forward thinking

National talks new urban planning laws, business & environmental alliance says “Go further”

The National Party has been working steadily towards its latest election policy for most of its 9 years in government: new urban planning laws that would make it easier to build, and faster than the Resource Management Act.

It would incorporate parts of the Local Government Act & the Land Transport Management Act. The Resource Management Act would stay in place for non-urban areas.

Steven Joyce lining up some mud at Manukau in 2009.

But Resource Reform NZ, an alliance of 3 normally National-leaning organisations – the Employers & Manufacturers Association, Infrastructure NZ & the Property Council – plus the Environmental Defence Society, said yesterday the National proposal didn’t go far enough.

They want “an integrated governance, planning, funding & delivery system to guide resource management & national economic development”.

The catchcry: fit for purpose

The ministers releasing the party policy and the Resource Reform alliance used the same term as their base: fit for purpose.

The ministers (now spokespersons for the duration of the election campaign), Steven Joyce on infrastructure & Nick Smith on environment (but apparently not on building & construction) said in their campaign proposal yesterday: “A re-elected National-led government will introduce new fit-for-purpose urban planning laws separate from the Resource Management Act to encourage more responsive planning, faster development & better protection for the environment in our growing cities.

“New Zealand is growing strongly and we want to make it easier to build the housing & infrastructure for that growth while still ensuring our urban environments are some of the most liveable in the world.

“To do that we need to give our cities the ability to adapt & develop faster, while respecting & improving the urban environment – and the current planning system is not allowing that.

“The RMA’s one-size-fits-all approach has restrained the development of our cities, dragged on their economic performance and restricted the supply of much-needed housing & infrastructure.

“So National will establish a fit-for-purpose planning system that allows our cities to evolve in a way that improves the quality of the local environment, and makes them great places to live & work.”

Idea is to separate planning & environmental regulation

Nick Smith, also lining up some mud, in 2015.

Dr Smith said the new planning legislation would have clear & separate objectives for regulating urban & natural environments: “Over the past 9 years we’ve simplified the RMA and made it easier to build, but the RMA is only one part of the planning system, and we have reached the end of what can be done by making incremental changes to the act.

“We agree with a number of stakeholders that it is time to develop fit-for-purpose planning legislation dedicated to urban environments that includes the relevant parts of the Local Government Act & the Land Transport Management Act in one piece of legislation.

“So we will set up separate planning & environmental regulations specifically designed to encourage growth, while tackling the environmental challenges found in cities, such as air pollution & stormwater surges.

“This new legislation will work in parallel with our plan to put in place urban development authorities to redevelop specific brownfields areas in our cities to allow for more housing – the work for which is already underway.”

Dr Smith said National would “keep a close eye” on changes applicable to non-urban & rural areas through the existing Resource Management Act.

“National will start its urban planning reform process by consulting with key stakeholders, local government, iwi, experts & the public to develop fit-for-purpose legislation that works for cities.

“The successful Auckland unitary plan & the independent hearings panel review process shows we can put sensible rules in place that work for everyone. We want to use the same collaborative formula to create an urban planning system that enables growth, gives businesses the confidence to invest and adapts to the changing needs of cities.”

Reformists seek consensus for change, don’t detail their reforms

Resource Reform NZ reform of the resource management system needed to go much further. It recommended that this would be best addressed through cross-party consensus on the issue by a politically independent process, such as a commission.

Infrastructure NZ chief executive Stephen Selwood said: “We know New Zealand’s prosperity is being held back by the current framework the wider planning system operates within. It is no longer fit for purpose, and is why we find ways to work around the current system when we want to deliver the infrastructure that the county so desperately needs.”

Property Council chief executive Connal Townsend said: “The current unco-ordinated planning system is driving increasing housing unaffordability, the high cost of commercial development and reliance on outdated funding mechanisms such as rates & council debt. That means we’re simply not building enough, quickly enough with the quality & innovation needed to develop the cities & standard of living we all expect in the future.”

Environmental Defence Society executive director Gary Taylor said: “The environment is suffering too. The Resource Management Act is our pre-eminent environmental law. Yet the cumulative effects of permitted land use activities over the lifetime of the act have led to a slow but significant deterioration of the quality of our streams, rivers & lakes.”

And the fourth advocate for greater change, Employers & Manufacturers Association chief executive Kim Campbell, said: “For business, these issues are also stifling the ability to grow & expand. Which, in turn, also impacts employees & the families. Looking into the future, we face even bigger challenges in how we manage & respond to demographic changes, advances in technology, rising consumer expectations & climate change.”

Attribution: National & Resource Reform releases.

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Ardern follows well researched overseas thinking on rentals, some responses over-edgy, and 5-year-old Ahuri research is helpful clarification

Jacinda Ardern in her policy broadcast yesterday.

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern announced a set of new terms for residential tenancies yesterday, and was immediately – and predictably – told this would badly affect landlords and would have the opposite effect on New Zealand’s housing crisis to that she intended.

The Labour policy is along the lines of what is the norm in Germany, where tenants enjoy long-term occupancy, and also follows the thinking of AHURI – the Australian Housing & Urban Research Institute – in a paper written 5 years ago, How can secure occupancy in rental housing be improved in Australia?

Below: First the Labour policy, then some adverse comments, followed by the AHURI view.

A quick note: I’d thought of paying more attention than I usually do to election policy announcements, then thought better of it. For starters, I have more than enough to write about already. Second, a high proportion of wishlist & splurge electioneering has been vote-buying which can mostly be dismissed – or, if it does eventuate, watched extra-critically. This one, though, is a policy which will affect a large investor sector. If it follows the AHURI line of thinking it ought to be beneficial all round.

A family constantly on the move

To deliver her policy, Ms Ardern said down with a family who’d moved 4 times in 3 years, whose children had to move schools, and whose attempts to save to buy their own home had been set back.

“About 50% of Kiwis now rent their home, but too often their living situation is precarious,” Ms Ardern said.

Her promise: “A Labour Government will strengthen renters’ rights so everyone can have more stability. Not only will Labour increase the notice period for ending a tenancy, we’ll also end letting fees, limit rent increases to one/year, make all homes warm, dry & safe to live in, and much more.

“And for landlords who need to move on tenants who are breaching their agreement, we’ll make sure the tenancy tribunal is properly resourced, and that issues like anti-social behaviour are much clearer in the law.

“It’s about making renting fairer & more stable for both tenants & landlords – and is part of our comprehensive plan to fix the housing crisis.”

Policy: Making life better for renters

“For most people, renting used to be a short stage of their life before they bought a house and started a family. Now, it is becoming the norm. 3 out of 4 people under 40 years old rent, compared to one in 2 in 1991. Among older New Zealanders, the home ownership rate has fallen from over 90% in 1991 to 75% today. All up, half of New Zealanders now live in rental properties.”

Ms Ardern said renters’ rights were still designed around the assumption renting is a short-term arrangement for people without children and that renters will move frequently, rather than set down roots in their community.

The policy:

  • Increase 42-day notice periods for landlords to 90 days to give tenants more time to find somewhere else to live
  • Abolish “no-cause” terminations of tenancies
  • Retain the ability of landlords to get rid of tenants who are in breach of the tenancy agreement with 90 days’ notice, or more quickly by order of the Tenancy Tribunal
  • Limit rent increases to once/year (the law currently limits it to once every 6 months) and require the formula for rental increases to be specified in the rental agreement
  • Give tenants & landlords the ability to agree tenants on a fixed-term lease of 12 months or more can make minor alterations, like putting up shelves, if they pay double bond and on the basis the property is returned to the state it was in at the start of the tenancy
  • Ban letting fees
  • Require all rentals to be warm, dry & healthy for families to live in by passing the Healthy Homes Bill, introduced as a members’ bill by Ms Ardern’s predecessor as Labour leader, Andrew Little, and in the committee stage when the parliamentary term ended in August, and
  • Give landlords access to grants of up to $2000 for upgrading insulation & heating.

Notice periods

Ms Ardern said notice periods would be used where a landlord required the home to live in or had sold the property, the tenant had breached the agreement such as anti-social behaviour, failure to pay rent or causing damage to the property; or the landlord didn’t want to continue a fixed-term tenancy past its expiry: “This will mean landlords are still able to give notice to evict bad tenants. Landlords will still be able to go to the Tenancy Tribunal to ask for evictions or other remedies in the event of breaches of tenancy agreements.

“Most landlords operate with integrity and seek to provide decent accommodation at a fair price. These reforms will not affect them. What they will do is stop exploitative behaviour by a minority that is blemishing the reputation of landlords as a whole.”

Property Institute: It will worsen housing crisis

Ashley Church.

Property Institute chief executive Ashley Church said: “Labour’s new housing rental policies will scare existing landlords out of the rental market and will make the current housing crisis even worse – particularly in Auckland.

“The timing of these proposals couldn’t be worse. Auckland is currently in the grip of a serious housing shortage which affects both buyers & renters – and anything which deters investors from providing housing can only succeed in compounding that problem.

“If you’re an existing landlord, the deck is already stacked against you. The market has flattened, loan:value ratio (LVR) restrictions mean your equity position is worse, and bank credit rationing means that it’s now much harder for you to borrow money to do renovations & improve your position.

“Now Labour is telling you that, if elected, they’ll take away your right to terminate a tenancy and they’ll regulate the circumstances under which you can increase rents to make them comply with some as-yet-undefined Big Brother formula.”

Mr Church said these moves would come on top of a capital gains tax, pending a report from a yet-to-be-formed tax working group: “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to recognise that Labour are already committed to a capital gains tax and that their tax working party will be made up of others who share that worldview. So, if you’re a property investor, the very clear message is ‘We’re going to get you’.

“That might make for good politics – but it risks doing long-term damage to the property market by scaring off mum & dad investors who are currently putting a roof over people’s heads.”

Mr Church said private investment was the key to solving the housing crisis and providing incentives to get people building new homes was the way to overcome the supply issue: “But no one is going to do that if they’re worried that they’re going to be regulated & taxed to death. Existing landlords will abandon the market and people who might otherwise have invested will stay away. Which means the State – which is just you & I as taxpayers – will be left holding the bag.”

First National chief also makes lopsided call

Bob Brereton.

First National Real Estate chief executive Bob Brereton said Labour’s proposals to change tenants’ rights “will severely, and negatively, impact on a landlord’s ability to protect their investment and will result in increased rents for tenants.

“The pledge to outlaw letting fees is a good example of a poorly thought-out policy with an unintended consequence: Letting fees are charged by professional property management companies to cover the costs associated with securing the right tenant. They then act as advocates for both the landlord & tenant to ensure comfort, safety & protection of the investment. If you remove letting fees, many management companies will be forced to increase management fees to compensate. This will simply force up rents.”

He was also concerned about the proposal to remove the right to end a tenancy, with 90 days’ notice, without cause: “This is simply ludicrous. There are many reasons why landlords might want vacant possession of a property, and infringing on these is a direct challenge to private property rights.

“A similar proposal to increase the provision to end a tenancy after 42 days, in certain circumstances, to 90 days will have a significant impact on property values. The 42-day provision is used, particularly, when a landlord sells a property and the buyer requires vacant possession or where the landlord needs to move back into it urgently, so this provision could impact on a landlord’s ability to sell.”

Brereton says regulating rent rises a no-no

Mr Brereton said one of the biggest challenge of Labour’s policy was the proposal to regulate market rentals by passing legislation to cap the amount by which rent can be increased. His example:

“A landlord buys a house, putting up say $200,000 of their own cash or equity, to provide a home for someone without one. They borrow $450,000 for the purchase at 5% interest and, paying only interest, it costs them $22,500 in interest, another $2000 for rates and $1500 for insurance ($26,000/year). This means they have to rent the property for $500/week, just to cover costs. Add in a 5% return on their equity and its $692. Anything less than that and you are just providing social housing.”

Overall, he said: “This risks being ‘the straw that breaks the camel’s back’. Landlords are facing negative returns, flat prices & the threat of a capital gains tax. If interest rates go up, as predicted, it would only take a small move in a flat market to convince many landlords to get out of the market.”

Australian research indicates similar issues left to fester

AHURI – the Australian Housing & Urban Research Institute – introduced a paper published in May 2012 this way: “More Australians are renting for longer periods, yet do not enjoy the benefits of secure occupancy. Changes to improve the security of occupancy in the Australian private rental system can be informed by international experiences.”

The paper was based on research conducted by Professor Kath Hulse at the AHURI Swinburne-Monash Research Centre, and Associate Professor Vivienne Milligan & Dr Hazel Easthope at the AHURI UNSW-UWS Research Centre. They examined the provisions for secure occupancy across rental systems in Australia & other similarly developed countries, and considered the potential to adapt these provisions to Australia.

Key points:

  • Secure occupancy is important in creating a home, regardless of tenure, and is a foundation for many aspects of wellbeing
  • The Australian private rental sector is characterised by relatively insecure occupancy compared to either social rental or home ownership
  • International experience demonstrates that it is possible to have a large private rental sector with smallscale investors & higher levels of secure occupancy for tenants. Changes to the regulatory framework and policy settings are required to achieve this.

This study argued that secure occupancy is linked to whether households are able to:

  • participate effectively in rental markets
  • access & remain in adequate, affordable & appropriate housing with protection of their rights as consumers & citizens
  • receive support from governments or other social service agencies if & when necessary to obtain &/or sustain a tenancy
  • exercise a degree of control over their housing circumstances and make a home, to the extent that they wish to do so.

European examples

Provisions for secure occupancy are stronger where rental systems are large, such as in Germany, the Netherlands & Austria, where, respectively, 60%, 43% & 30% of households rent. All of these might be categorised as integrated systems, with more uniform policy & regulatory approaches to rental housing.

While the latter 2 prioritise the social rental sector, the German system relies mainly on a private rental system. In these countries, secure occupancy in rental housing has been supported by supply subsidies. By contrast, other jurisdictions (Scotland, Flanders, Ontario, New Jersey & Australia) tend to have highly differentiated systems with strong security in social housing and relatively insecure occupancy in the private rental sector.

Largescale investment & professional management

Countries with large social renting sectors (the Netherlands, Austria, Scotland & Ireland) or higher corporate/institutional investment (Austria, the Netherlands, New Jersey, Ontario & Germany) also have a stronger tradition of professionalised management than in Australia.

This enables investor risks to be pooled and decisions about occupancy for individual households to be made at arm’s-length from decisions about investment.

Germany provides an interesting example, where, although there is larger-scale investment, most landlords are smallscale but are investing for the longer term, enabling more secure occupancy for tenants.

Legal provisions for secure tenure

There is a range of lease types across the countries studied. The typical practice in Australia of offering short-term fixed leases followed by month-to-month arrangements was only found elsewhere in Scotland & Ontario. New Jersey also has month-to-month arrangements, though these renew automatically unless a notice to terminate is given by either party. Other countries have the practice of longer-term or unlimited lease terms.

Of the jurisdictions studied, only Scotland compares with Australia in terms of having short-term tenancies that can be terminated readily without grounds. Even jurisdictions like Ontario & New Jersey have specified grounds for ending a private sector tenancy.

Supporting lease terms that meet the long-term needs of householders

Some jurisdictions have also been better at assisting people to personalise their dwelling and use the property according to their wishes, and so improve their autonomy. In the German private rental market, the standard lease provides capacity to personalise or even renovate the house and facilitates access to people with disabilities. These are only found in other jurisdictions on a lease-by-lease basis.

Links: Labour policy: renters
Ahuri, 14 May 2012: How can secure occupancy in rental housing be improved in Australia?

Attribution: Labour policy & release, Property Institute & First National releases, AHURI research paper.

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Council accounts show revenue & assets up, net debt below forecast

Auckland Council released its unaudited financial results for the June year to the NZX yesterday (because the council has listed debt securities), with more detail to come in 4 weeks.

The deputy auditor-general will complete the audit and issue an audit opinion on 28 September.

Group highlights include:

  • Revenue up 11% ($424 million) to $4.129 billion, ($3.705 billion in 2016), including
    • Rates $1.641 billion ($1.564 billion)
    • Fees & user charges $1.193 billion ($1.083 billion)
  • Operating surplus $340 million before gains & losses ($250 million)
  • Net debt (after cash on hand) up $486 million to $7.969 billion, but $467 million lower than forecast
  • Surplus after tax $640 million ($231 million deficit)
  • Total assets up $2.7 billion to $47.36 billion ($44.68 billion)
  • Net assets $35.78 billion ($33.65 billion).

Auckland Council Group acting chief financial officer Matthew Walker said the group’s financial performance “shows it is balancing the need for prudent financial management with the investment required to address the growth challenges Auckland faces.

“As a successful & increasingly global city, Auckland’s population is growing rapidly. This continually adds to the demands on our transport, 3 waters & community infrastructure such as libraries & parks. Yet the group results show the council is on track to deliver its largest programme of investment ever over the next decade, based on the adopted 2015-25 long-term plan.

In the last year, the council group (including council-controlled organisations such as Auckland Transport & Watercare Services Ltd) delivered $1.66 billion of investment, including its share of the city rail link, now co-funded by Auckland Council & the Government.

Mr Walker said the council sold down part of its diversified financial assets portfolio in August 2016 and issued debt in $NZ, Euro, Norwegian kroner & $A. Meanwhile, it continued to raise debt through the Local Government Funding Agency. He said low interest rates had contributed to a lower cost of funds during the course of this financial year.

“The council maintained its credit ratings of AA (stable) from Standard & Poor’s, and Aa2 from Moody’s Investor Services, confirming our prudent fiscal management and strong debt-servicing capability. These continue to remain among the strongest credit ratings in New Zealand.

“The council has begun the development of its long-term plan 2018-28. While group debt is projected to reach $11.6 billion by 2025, it will remain at a prudent level relative to our income.
“The group’s asset base is expected to grow from $45 billion to $60 billion over that same period to 2025.”

Capex highlights:

  • $310 million on water & wastewater infrastructure
  • $200 million on parks, sports facilities, libraries, community centres & facilities
  • $430 million on roads & footpaths, and
  • $288 million on public transport.

Link: Auckland Council 30 June 2017 accounts (on NZX)

Attribution: Council accounts & release.

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Matching infrastructure to population explosion a key Goff plank

Auckland mayor Phil Goff laid out his vision yesterday to build infrastructure at a rate that would match the region’s unprecedented population growth.

Some funding mechanisms are in place, and the council & Government have agreed bigger funding streams for some areas such as transport, but their budgets still show a $5.9 billion shortfall over the next decade.

The mayor said he would seek staff advice on options for broadening the council’s revenue base, which currently relies on rates to generate almost 50% of its funding. Other options include:

  1. the further development of special purpose vehicles funded by growth infrastructure targeted rates
  2. the application of the targeted rate on accommodation to the informal sector (eg, Airbnb)
  3. the sale of non-strategic assets, and
  4. likely proceeds from various road pricing options & practicality of implementation.

The mayor wrote his 8-page report to set the process going for the council’s 10-year budget (otherwise known as its long-term plan) for 2018-28.

The process now is for the council to run political workshops through September-November, finishing with a more concrete mayoral proposal which will go to more workshops in December, then out to public consultation in March and adoption of the plan on 27 June next year.

Mr Goff wrote in his release presenting the report:

“Our vision for Auckland is a world-class city where talent wants to live. It must be the city which can keep the best & brightest of our young people in New Zealand while competing globally with other cities around the world for skills, entrepreneurship & investment.

“My key focus is to build infrastructure at a rate that matches unprecedented population growth to maintain our quality of life and make it easier to do business in our city.

“Auckland grows by 45,000 people/year and is clearly a desirable place to live. This growth creates opportunities, but it also presents challenges in housing shortages & affordability, growing traffic congestion & pressure on our environment.

“The key to tackling these issues is our ability to lift investment in our infrastructure.

“Investment in public transport, including light rail, in active transport modes like cycling & walking, and optimising our road network is critical.

“That’s why, under our latest Auckland transport alignment project, we have set aside $27 billion for capital investment in the next decade. Currently, $5.9 billion of that is unfunded and has to be found.

“I welcome the Government’s commitment to meet the larger share of that, but Auckland will also need to contribute more.

“The 10-year budget needs to consider where we source our share of the funds.

“The interim transport levy is not user-related and does not raise sufficient funds. We can’t simply impose huge general rate increases to pay for infrastructure, so some form of road pricing will be essential.

“We need to build more houses more quickly. The mayoral housing taskforce makes recommendations which we need to move to implement.

“The unitary plan enables land development, but we need to invest in infrastructure to allow houses to be built. This will involve intensification of houses, as well as new developments under the future urban land supply strategy.

“Use of targeted rates as well as special purpose vehicles through Crown Infrastructure Partners will be essential. That also applies to protecting & enhancing our environment.

“Water quality is a top priority. We need to reduce wastewater overflowing into our streams & harbours. Building new water infrastructure will be our focus, including new wastewater interceptors & green infrastructure.

“While the council is looking for new sources of infrastructure funding, we must also get better value for the ratepayers’ dollar.

“It is time to realise the benefits of amalgamation to deliver further efficiencies & economies of scale made possible by the super-city.

“Findings from our group-wide section 17A value-for-money reviews will be critical, and I want the council to develop group-wide shared services.

“APEC [Auckland will host the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum leaders’ week from 8–14 November 2021] and the America’s Cup defence add impetus to our planning and provide the opportunity to create a lasting legacy for Aucklanders.

“We have the opportunity to make Auckland more prosperous, smart, innovative, inclusive & culturally rich, with a beautiful environment and choice & opportunity for all.

“With this as our vision and the investment we need in infrastructure, we will make Auckland a world-class city.”

Image above: Auckland mayor Phil Goff, on site shortly after his election as mayor last October.

Links:
Mayoral intent for the 10-year budget (long-term plan) 2018–28
10-year budget 2018-28 road map

Attribution: Mayoral release & plan document.

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Governance framework review a leading topic for local boards

In this round of local board meetings, all boards will consider the governance framework review (links taken from the Orakei Local Board agenda for its meeting on Thursday):

12, Governance framework review recommendations  
Attachments
Summary table of report recommendations    
Regional decision-making and policy processes    
Allocations and delegations    
Reserve Act land exchanges    
Local boards and Auckland Transport    
Confirmation of draft transport recommendations    
Waiheke Local Board pilot project cover paper    
Waiheke pilot project outline    
Funding and finance workstream paper 1    
Funding and finance cover paper July    
Funding finance description of 2 models    
Number of local boards    
Representation options    
Naming conventions

Who gets the name Wesley?

The Puketapapa Local Board will return this week to the topic of where in Auckland the suburb name Wesley should be used:

12, Notice of motion, official naming of Wesley suburb
Recommendation
Attachments
Notice of motion, official naming of Wesley suburb    
Wesley boundary map 

Airport access

The Puketapapa board also has airport access – light or heavy rail, and the route – on its agenda this week:

17, Airport access
Recommendation 
Attachments
Benefits of LRT and heavy rail to Aucklanders    
Auckland Transport board resolution    
Progression pathway

Three Kings plan change

And the Puketapapa board has a request for its view on whether a plan change request from Fletcher Residential Ltd to amend the Three Kings precinct, and to rezone some land within the precinct, should be accepted as a private plan change or adopted as a council plan change.

The council’s planning committee will make the council decision on how the plan change request will be treated.

21, Plan change proposal for Three Kings precinct 

Sediment discharge

After a submission from the Friends of Okura Group, the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board has received a report on sediment discharges from the Envirofill cleanfill site at 1627 East Coast Rd at Redvale, and the Weiti village development nearby, which has concluded the developments meet their consent conditions.

12, Envirofill & Weiti developments, sediment discharge inquiry

Attribution: Local board agendas.

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Access matters most

On this website, access is the most important consideration. The real estate catchcry, “Location, location, location,” relies on your ability to get there.

In Auckland, a 30-minute car journey can take 90 minutes, but estimating timeframes is also hazardous at pretty much any time of day.

The Government resolutely opposed rail innovation until the super-city’s first mayor, Len Brown, won the support to proceed with the city rail link and forged ahead, notwithstanding the funding gap as the Government sat on the sidelines. Eventually, this year, the Government signed up.

Cars have quickly filled the extra lanes on a short patch of the Northern Motorway and will quickly fill the Waterview tunnel & North-western Motorway expansions.

As I wrote 6 years ago about travelling on the western, industrial side of the isthmus: “Occasionally I stray into Neilson St, Onehunga, and quickly realise it was a mistake. There’s no need to be quick about the realisation, of course, because it’s going to be a while before you can escape.”

Construction of the East-West Link, the State Highway 1-20 road route through that western area, is before a board of inquiry, Mill Rd between Papakura & the southern edge of Flat Bush at Redoubt Rd & into Murphys Rd is becoming a more significant arterial and is now the subject of upscale talk, but the arrival of still more congestion isn’t being beaten.

Now, it seems, the third track on rail’s main trunk line will be built, and perhaps the fourth track as well.

Labour’s new candidate for prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, upped the ante yesterday when she said Labour would build light rail between the city centre & airport within a decade, extending to West Auckland in the same timeframe and later to the North Shore.

She would introduce a regional fuel tax, infrastructure bonds & targeted rates.

National’s finance minister, Steven Joyce, again ruled out a regional tax, which he’s previously argued is inefficient. So, too, is doing nothing while Auckland’s population grows by about 50,000/year, with 10-year projections from Statistics NZ of 29,000/year (medium) to 35,000/year (high).

A party in power for 9 years has no room for innovative policy without the audience asking why these policies weren’t already in place and, while both National & Labour issued transport policies yesterday, Miss Ardern had to have the front running.

We are set up, then, for a serious battle of wits over primary infrastructure & housing in Auckland – and the skilful politicians will at least appease the rest of the country, if not produce some sound economic offerings, so the election doesn’t just become about Auckland.

For the voter who thinks more about policy than party allegiance – and these voters, I think, are likely to decide who comes to govern – there are questions not just about policies but about strategies, and particularly funding methods.

Among those questions today:

  • Why has it taken so long to introduce new central government funding for extra housing infrastructure support?
  • Why has the Government steadfastly opposed new forms of tax, or a greater sharing of tax to support regional initiatives & infrastructure?
  • Why have key Auckland transport decisions been delayed so long in the face of record immigration?
  • Why is a board of inquiry examining one proposed section of transport infrastructure – the East-West Link – in isolation from other components such as the third & fourth sections of main trunk rail track and the future port location & consequent transport links?

Those are questions which are obviously aimed at the incumbent government. Other parties have released policies on some of these issues.

Labour has a policy to build, or finance the building of, an extra 10,000 houses/year and Miss Ardern talked yesterday of using a regional fuel tax.

The key transport – access – decisions need further input from all claimants for the government benches. The central issue is integrated decision-making, and the absence of such integration has long been a feature of central government (including bureaucrats) versus Auckland.

Attribution: Party speeches & release.

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Pt England reserve law passed, but still rankles with mayor & board chair

The Point England Development Enabling Bill became law on Wednesday after a 7-month jaunt through the parliamentary process, enabling the Government to complete a Treaty of Waitangi settlement with Ngati Paoa.

The bill was introduced to Parliament on 7 December, passed its first reading 6 days later, its second reading on 23 May and committee stage on 21 June. It returned for its third reading on Tuesday and was given royal assent on Wednesday.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff and Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Board chair Josephine Bartley said they accepted Parliament had a sovereign right to dispose of the land and they didn’t oppose the treaty settlement, but they remained concerned about the use of special legislation to lift reserve status outside normal statutory processes.

The new law allows for largescale housing development on 11.7ha of the reserve, enabling Ngati Paoa to build 300 houses on the reserve land as part of its treaty settlement.

Mr Goff said: “While the council is supportive of action to accelerate house building in Auckland, this bill raises a number of issues. This legislation prescribes to Auckland Council what it must do with land vested in & administered by the council under the Reserves Act. This prescription circumvents the statutory powers of a local authority responsible for public reserve land under the act.

“That the minister [Nick Smith, former housing minister and now Minister of Building & Construction] intends to micro-manage Auckland’s future rather than give residents the opportunity to have their say sets a worrying precedent. Going forward, the minister needs to promise Auckland that he will consult the council & Aucklanders on matters that affect their future.

“Auckland Council will now engage with the Government to ensure the loss of reserve land is properly managed and that decisions are made by locally elected representatives with public consultation.”

Ms Bartley said: “Our community has been denied the right to shape its own future. There is nothing more that residents can do now. Sadly this bill may further endanger wildlife and reduce green space in Maungakiekie-Tamaki & Auckland.”

Attribution: Parliament, council releases.

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Last-ditch attempt to derail Pt England bill questions super-city rationale

As the Point England Development Enabling Bill heads to its third reading in Parliament tomorrow – and therefore enactment – Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Board chair Josephine Bartley posed a last-minute question about the rationale for governance changes made in 2010.

It’s not likely to change the course of the legislation, which will turn 11.7ha of the 48ha Point England Reserve over to housing, 2ha for a marae, as part of a Treaty of Waitangi settlement with Ngati Paoa.

But, in an era of carefully ensuring all those who ought to be consulted are consulted before decisions are made, Ms Bartley has asked why Building, Construction & former Housing Minister Nick Smith has usurped powers the Government gave local boards when they were established as part of the super-city governance structure.

She wrote to Dr Smith on Friday: “With the change in Local Government in Auckland in 2010, the Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Board is responsible for local parks & reserves in our area.

“We aim to make decisions & plans for our parks & reserves based on community engagement. The minister, Dr Nick Smith, in his supplementary order paper [for the bill] circumvents this by stating that no grazing & farming will take place on Point England Reserve, and that Auckland Council must provide sportsfields on the headland where the dotterels & other shore birds are.

“As a local board, we opposed the Point England Development Enabling Bill because of the lack of consultation by the Government with our community and the dangerous precedent it sets of circumventing legislation that protects reserves.

”Again we are being stood on by Government and are being told what to do in our local reserve. If this is the case, then what was the point of the Auckland super-city structure put in place by Government to empower local decision-making?

“I have asked the minister for a meeting to remind him of the issues with this bill and his supplementary order paper on behalf of our local board & Tamaki community.”

Earlier stories:
26 May 2017: Pt England housing development bill passes second reading
19 December 2016: Bill to enable housing on Pt England Reserve passes first reading
7 December 2016: Ngati Paoa to build 300 homes on Pt England Reserve, talks continue on reserve upgrade

Attribution: Board release.

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Bob Dey Property Report diary, week 26 June-2 July 2017

The diary lists council meetings & agendas, hearings & submissions, economic release dates, events, Parliament order paper items and securities.

Council links

All Auckland Council agendas can be reached via http://infocouncil.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/. The council livestreams (and archives) Town Hall meetings and some other meetings. You can check those at http://councillive.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/.

Environmental Protection Authority

Board of inquiry hearing:

East-West link, hearing opens Tuesday 27 June at 9am, Ellerslie recourse, Ascot stand, and is scheduled to run for 8-10 weeks (sitting 9-5, Tuesday-Friday the first week, Monday-Thursday thereafter)
Link: Hearing index

Auckland Council

Governing body:

Thursday 29 June at 9.30am, Town Hall:
Summary of the Tupuna Maunga Authority operational plan 2017-18
Final Tupuna Maunga Authority operational plan 2017-18
10, Annual budget 2017-18 (annual plan), for adoption (detailed governing body plan & local body agreements still to come)
Revenue & financing policy
11, Rates setting 2017-18 
12, City Rail Link agreements, for approval (first in public meeting, then in confidential)

Committees:

Forums, panels & boards:

You can check council meeting agendas through this link: http://infocouncil.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/

In this round of local board meetings, they’re considering relationship agreements with mana whenua, Auckland Transport monthly reports, local grant applications, environment work programmes (including many small projects by locals), and park, reserve, community facility & library work programmes, refreshes of the Auckland Plan maintenance contracts that start on 1 July (Project 17), and Panuku Development Auckland 6-monthly reports at some boards.

Auckland city centre advisory board, Wednesday 28 June at 3pm, 135 Albert St

Papakura Local Board, Wednesday 28 June at 4.30pm, Papakura, council service centre, 35 Coles Crescent:
14, Leona McKenzie memorial seat, Short St, Opaheke
Recommendation
Attachments
Auckland Transport processes to install a memorial seat on a street berm
Auckland Transport application for encroachment form
Information relating to applying for a corridor access request
Auckland Transport fee schedule – corridor access requests
Information from the Ministry of Education website regarding community-funded property
Maps illustrating the distance of parks to the Opaheke School 
Leona McKenzie memorial seat report considered at 26 April 2017 Papakura Local Board meeting
Local board agenda, April 2017, item 22 (pages 81-96)
Related story, 25 June 2017: Take a rest after reading this one – but not on a memorial bench

Hearings:

Meadowbank, 6-14 Meadowbank Rd, application by Meadowbank Developments Ltd (Chris Jones – Southside Group Ltd, Arcus Property Ltd – Arrow International Group Ltd, Cary Bowkett, Alistair & Warren Dryden – Dryden Developments Ltd) for 65-unit residential development comprising a 6-storey apartment building & 3-storey terrace building; council planner Catherine Raeburn has recommended consent; hearing Monday 26 June at 9.30am, Town Hall

Parnell, 24 York St, application by NYS Developments Ltd (Colin & Jan Pauling) to build 6 new residential units through the addition of 3 storeys to the existing building to create a 6-storey building with a communal rooftop area, hearing Thursday 6 July at 9.30am, Town Hall

Submissions:

Dairy Flat, 244 Postman Rd & Wilks Rd, application by Sunrise 9 Trustees Ltd (John Hamilton) for combined subdivision & land use consent for a 43-lot rural residential development, a utility lot & taxi way, including area to site hangars; submissions close Tuesday 11 July

Highbrook, 11 Cryers Rd, application by Establish ECE Ltd (Logan Whitelaw & Paul Rodgers) for a mixed use development comprising 2 buildings – Building C containing a purpose-built childcare centre  providing for 107 children and a 24/7 gym, Building B a 1402m² double-storey retail, commercial & office building; submissions close Wednesday 19 July

Whenuapai, 106 Totara Rd & 50-52 Brigham Creek Rd, application by Whenuapai Land Co Ltd (Cameron Wilson – Oyster Capital Ltd) to build Z service station; submissions close Thursday 20 July

Auctions:

Barfoot & Thompson, apartments & commercial Thursdays at 10am, residential Tuesday-Friday at 10am & 1.30pm, 34 Shortland St
Bayleys, Total Property commercial, Wednesday 28 June at 11am, residential Wednesdays at 2pm, Bayleys House, Wynyard Quarter, 30 Gaunt St
City Sales, apartments, Wednesday 5 July at 12.30pm, 445 Karangahape Rd
Colliers, commercial, Wednesday 12 July at 11am, SAP House, 151 Queen St
NAI Harcourts, Tuesday 27 June at 1pm, Takapuna, 128 Hurstmere Rd
Ray White City Apartments, Thursdays at 12.30pm, 2 Lorne St

Economy:

June

Building consents, May, Friday 30 June
Trade – overseas merchandise, May, Tuesday 27 June

July

Accommodation survey, May, Wednesday 12 July
Building consents, June, Monday 31 July
Consumers price index, June quarter, Tuesday 18 July
Dwelling & household estimates, June quarter – tables, Friday 7 July
Electronic card transactions, June, Tuesday 11 July
Household living-costs price indexes, June quarter, Thursday 27 July
Migration, international travel, June, Friday 21 July
QV house price index, Wednesday 5 July
Trade – overseas merchandise, June, Wednesday 26 July
US Federal Reserve, open market committee, Tuesday-Wednesday 25-26 July

Events:

Waterview Connection, now scheduled to open to traffic in early July

Property Council, Thursday 6 July at 7.15-9am, The infrastructure issue: holding Auckland back, Grand Millennium, 71 Mayoral Drive

HotelsWorld, Tuesday-Thursday 25-27 July, Sydney, 4 consecutive events for hotel, resort & serviced apartment operators, investors, developers, lenders & industry professionals

Facilities Integrate 2017, Wednesday-Thursday 27-28 September at 10am-5pm, Greenlane, ASB Showgrounds

Third tripartite economic summit between Auckland, Guangzhou & Los Angeles, Wednesday-Friday 27-29 September (to be confirmed), Guangzhou
Link: Auckland Council update on the tripartite economic alliance between Auckland, Guangzhou & Los Angeles

Building for better lives, Australian national housing conference hosted by Australian Housing & Research Institute, 29 November-1 December, Sydney, International Convention Centre

Parliament:

Provisional order paper, Tuesday 27 June

Government orders of the day:

1, Appropriation (2016/17 Supplementary Estimates) Bill, second reading (introduced 25 May)
2, Energy Innovation (Electric Vehicles & Other Matters) Amendment Bill, third reading
3, Point England Development Enabling Bill, third reading
4, Land Transfer Bill, third reading
6, Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2), second reading (report of the Local Government & Environment Committee presented 15 June)
10, Te Ture Whenua Maori Bill, committee stage
12, Appropriation (2017/18 Estimates) Bill, committee stage, estimates debate
13, Maritime Crimes Amendment Bill, committee stage
16, Rangitane Tu Mai Ra (Wairarapa Tamaki nui-a-Rua) Claims Settlement Bill, second reading (report of the Maori Affairs Committee presented 20 March)
17, Ngati Pukenga Claims Settlement Bill, second reading (report of the Maori Affairs Committee presented 3 March)
18, Ngatikahu ki Whangaroa Claims Settlement Bill, third reading
19, Ngai Te Rangi & Nga Potiki Claims Settlement Bill, second reading (report of the Maori Affairs Committee presented 21 November 2016)
21, Tauranga Moana Iwi Collective Redress & Nga Hapu o Ngati Ranginui Claims Settlement Bill, second reading (report of the Maori Affairs Committee presented 3 March)
25, Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No 2), first reading (introduced 23 May)
29, Ngati Tamaoho Claims Settlement Bill, first reading (introduced 22 June)
32, Commerce (Cartels & Other Matters) Amendment Bill, committee stage
33, Taxation (Income-sharing Tax Credit) Bill, second reading (report of the Finance & Expenditure Committee presented 21 March 2011)
34, Insolvency Practitioners Bill, committee stage
35, Regulatory Standards Bill, second reading (report of the Commerce Committee presented 8 May 2015)
36, Nga Rohe Moana o Nga Hapu o Ngati Porou Bill, first reading (introduced 29 September 2008)

Members’ orders of the day:

2, Private International Law (Choice of Law in Tort) Bill, Sarah Dowie, second reading (report of the Justice & Electoral Committee presented 7 June)
3, Local Electoral (Equitable Process for Establishing Maori Wards & Maori Constituencies) Amendment Bill, Marama Davidson, first reading (introduced 11 May)

Extended sittings:

Wednesday 5 July (effective Thursday 6 July from 9am):
Rangitane Tu Mai Ra (Wairarapa Tamaki nui-a-Rua) Claims Settlement Bill, second reading (report of the Maori Affairs Committee presented 20 March)
Ngati Pukenga Claims Settlement Bill, second reading (report of the Maori Affairs Committee presented 3 March)
Ngati Tamaoho Claims Settlement Bill, first reading (introduced 22 June)

Wednesday 9 August (effective Thursday 10 August from 9am):
Rangitane Tu Mai Ra (Wairarapa Tamaki nui-a-Rua) Claims Settlement Bill, committee stage, third reading
Ngati Pukenga Claims Settlement Bill, committee stage, third reading

Submissions

Friendly Societies & Credit Unions (Regulatory Improvements) Amendment Bill, submissions close Thursday 20 July
Inquiry into 2016 local authority elections, submissions close Tuesday 22 August

Submissions to MBIE on fire safety regulations

MBIE (the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment) began a review in 2014 of fire regulation changes made in 2012 and has developed 4 proposals to improve clauses & compliance documents; submissions opened on 15 May and close on Friday 14 July
Link: Fire programme

Securities – NZ

Arvida Group Ltd, annual meeting, Friday 7 July at 10.30am, Christchurch, The Piano, 156 Armagh St
Goodman Property Trust, annual meeting, Wednesday 2 August at 1.30pm, SkyCity Convention Centre
Kiwi Property Group Ltd, annual meeting, Friday 28 July at 10am, Christchurch, Hagley Oval Pavilion
Ryman Healthcare Ltd, annual meeting, Thursday 27 July at 10am, Rangiora, Charles Upham retirement village

You can help fill in the gaps – Got an event you want to tell the world about? Click the email tab – [email protected].nz.

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Take a rest after reading this one – but not on a memorial bench

The family of a woman who made crossing the street to & from Opaheke School, Papakura, a safer exercise for 27 years decided to offer a seat outside the school in her memory. It turns out you could dig a rail tunnel through the middle of the city centre more easily.

Leona McKenzie died in February last year aged 82. Her family’s gift of a seat went before the local board in April and was deferred to May, but only made it back on to the board’s agenda for this week’s meeting, on Wednesday evening.

From what I can see in the many pages of documents about what you might think is a simple gift to remember a very special “lollipop lady”, everything has been done by the book. What the record to this point shows, however, is an extraordinary volume of bureaucratic input – not to mention cost to the donor.

People give to their community. Once upon a time Leona McKenzie’s family might have told the school they’d like to see a seat with a plaque on it at the school gate, the school would have thought it was a good idea and it would have been done.

Now, it’s been past the school, Auckland Transport ($1000 non-refundable deposit required for an application for an encroachment licence or lease of airspace, subsoil or road surface), Education Ministry information has been added, a map showing the distance to nearby parks & reserves has been included, mana whenua haven’t yet been consulted.

One part of this intrigues me: the Auckland Transport documentation refers to “Auckland Transport land”. So you’d be wrong in thinking Auckland Transport maintains land on behalf of its owners, the ratepayers of Auckland – or would you? The semantics can make a difference to people’s thinking & actions.

If the local board decides to fund the memorial seat from the locally driven initiatives capex budget, it runs into another problem. As the comprehensive staff report says, “There is no department to drive the project.”

The super-city was formed for the whole Auckland region in 2010 to improve the provision of services and to streamline how things are done compared to the disconnects between the previous 7 territorial councils and the regional council.

And there do need to be checks & balances. But along the journey we’ve lost our way.

Below, the document trail:
Papakura Local Board, Wednesday 28 June at 4.30pm, Papakura, council service centre, 35 Coles Crescent:
14, Leona McKenzie memorial seat, Short St, Opaheke
Recommendation
Attachments
Auckland Transport processes to install a memorial seat on a street berm    
Auckland Transport application for encroachment form   
Information relating to applying for a corridor access request    
Auckland Transport fee schedule – corridor access requests    
Information from the Ministry of Education website regarding community-funded property    
Maps illustrating the distance of parks to the Opaheke School    
Leona McKenzie memorial seat report considered at 26 April 2017 Papakura Local Board meeting   
Local board agenda, April 2017, item 22 (pages 81-96)

Attribution: Local board agendas.

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