Archive | Strategic planning

Why you need checks & balances….

Published 25 July 2009

A commentary on the On Line Opinion website on Friday about a planning panel being imposed on the northern Sydney district of Ku-ring-gai illustrated the need for checks & balances in government.

 

Australian state governments have a tendency toward authoritarian behaviour, but it’s not far-fetched to say the governance style could happen here because the central issue in Ku-ring-gai is intensification. One of the recommendations of the commission report on Auckland’s governance was for the northern council area to lose the power to control planning on its southern border, essentially because it couldn’t be trusted to do the right thing by regional policy – in that case wanting to intensify, the opposite of the Ku-ring-gai situation, but likely to want to intensify for the economic wellbeing of its residents.

 

In a piece which appeared in New Geography on 18 July, Forcing density in Australia’s suburbs, Tony Recsei wrote: “Australia is a continent-sized country with total urbanised area of only 0.3%… The country is blessed with a sunny climate and enough space to enable its inhabitants to enjoy a relaxed, free lifestyle.

 

“Given this, one would expect there would be little support for the higher-density housing ideology of the Smart Growth advocates. Yet since the early 1990s the Australian Federal Department of Housing has been pushing exactly this approach…..

 

“High-density regulations from the planning minister come about by ministerial fiat without discussion in the state parliament. These regulations require municipal councils to submit planning strategies to the planning minister that increase density, to his/her satisfaction, under threat of removal of a council’s planning powers. In a blatant conflict of interest, half of the members of the minister’s assessment panel are developers who stand to gain from the implementation strategies being assessed and the other half are bureaucrats. There is no community representation…..

 

“One leafy, mainly single-residential council area in the northern part of Sydney (Ku-ring-gai) insisted that the submission of their residential strategy be delayed until studies could be conducted of the effects of the resulting higher density on infrastructure, traffic, the environment & heritage. This cheekiness was dealt with savagely. Its traditional planning powers have been taken away and given to a planning panel appointed by the planning minister….”

 

On Line Opinion says of Dr Recsei, that he has a background in chemistry and is an environmental consultant: “Since retiring he has taken an interest in community affairs and is president of the Save our Suburbs community group which opposes over-development forced onto communities by the New South Wales State Government.”

 

The Ku-ring-gai confrontation is made clear by this release which the council posted on its website on 27 May, Town centres LEP: more over-development and the panel stays, which I’ve run in full below:

 

The Ku-ring-gai Planning Panel’s town centres local environment plan will foist even more over-development on Ku-ring-gai than first expected and paves the way for the panel to stay in place, according to Mayor Elaine Malicki.

 

"While there’s been a token reduction in building heights in Gordon from 15 to 9 storeys, Turramurra & St Ives will remain at a maximum 9 storeys and some areas face having higher buildings than what was proposed in the draft plans last year," Cllr Malicki said.

 

"This is a disgraceful outcome considering the unprecedented level of concern in our community about these plans, with more than 1800 submissions received.

 

"The panel has quite clearly ignored these submissions and pushed ahead with rezonings that will lead to totally inappropriate development in & around our 6 major town centres.

 

"This misguided plan will result in around 3600 new apartments being built in our town centres – on top of 3800 new units already approved under stage one of our residential strategy."

 

Cllr Malicki said she was concerned the panel was trying to perpetuate itself by deferring a number of issues.

 

"It is deferring several areas – like an area in Turramurra with environmentally sensitive blue gum high forest – so it can raise the heights that were publicly exhibited last year, in the case of Turramurra to 7 storeys.

 

"Several years ago, former Planning Minister Dianne Beamer included areas for 5 storeys which the panel decided to reduce in height as they had special qualities, usually environmental.

 

"Now these areas are deferred for an amendment to the LEP to increase the heights again.

 

"Put in a nutshell, the panel stays, and we get further over-development."

 

Cllr Malicki said the deferrals were the height of hypocrisy considering that one of the red herrings used to justify a panel being imposed on Ku-ring-gai was the time the council was taking to prepare its residential strategy.

 

"We completed our town centres plan on time by the Government’s very tight deadline of the end of 2006, whereas the panel’s plan is at least 2 months late," she said.

 

"I’m also concerned that the panel is wrongly using state government planning policy – SEPP 65 – as an excuse for raising building heights by claiming the policy supports taller buildings to encourage solar access & cross-ventilation.

 

"This is an absolute furphy to try to justify totally inappropriate building heights in Ku-ring-gai."

 

Cllr Malicki said the final plan will lead to Ku-ring-gai accepting several thousand more new homes than the 10,000 target required under the State Government’s metropolitan strategy.      "The plan’s yields do not include council-owned sites that have been rezoned for medium-density housing – a significant number considering the council is the biggest land owner in our town centres.

 

"The plan also does not include over 1,000 new dwellings proposed for the UTS Lindfield and SAN Hospital sites.

 

"When you add all this up, it’s patently obvious that we’re being forced to accept a massive amount of over-development that will change the face of Ku-ring-gai forever.

 

"Our only hope now is that Planning Minister Kristina Keneally will see just what an injustice this plan is for our community and make last-minute changes before it becomes law.

 

"Hopefully Ms Keneally will not just continue the pro-developer policies of her predecessor Frank Sartor and simply rubber-stamp this plan."

 

Websites: Ku-ring-gai Council

New Geography, Recsei article

Save our Suburbs (NSW)

 

Want to comment? Go to the forum.

                                                                                              

Attribution: New Geography, On Line Opinion, Ku-ring-gai Council, Governance commission report, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.

Continue Reading

The 26 points of Initiatives for Auckland

Published 26 September 2007
The Property Council issued a discussion document yesterday, Initiatives for Auckland, which it hopes will raise debate about how the Auckland region is run, and advancing programmes to improve the region. Below are the 26 points (not all of them precisely as worded by the Property Council).

  • Modernise Auckland’s governance structure by establishing one regional governance body & 20 community councils
  • Exclude local government members & employees from boards of council organisations, council-controlled organisations & council-controlled trading organisations
  • Transfer responsibility to fund & provide core regional services to specific regional agencies
  • Address unfair local government tax, which relies exclusively on rates, by making rating act changes
  • Achieve one tax policy for the whole Auckland region
  • Use debt-funding for major infrastructure projects
  • Embark on a co-ordinated long-term infrastructure planning & asset management programme involving all government levels & non-government organisations
  • Secure adequate & sustainable funding that will enable current & future regional land transport infrastructure to be developed to meet the needs of current & future users
  • Commit to an infrastructure paradigm in the regional land transport strategy that acknowledges that effective transport systems require optimisation of roading & public transport capacity to meet consumer needs
  • Integrate the numerous agencies responsible for managing parts of regional land transport infrastructure to achieve effective governance, eliminate contestability & streamline transport planning
  • Define a clear vision of funding, providing & managing an integrated land transport strategy that is free from ambiguity & political interference
  • Clarify the development & governance of regional service infrastructure through prescriptive legislation
  • Vertically integrate water & wastewater services
  • Change laws that regulate water & wastewater services to minimise their end cost
  • Amend the Local Government Act (2002) to enable public-private partnerships for the provision of water infrastructure
  • Implement a 10-year plan for integrating information technology tools relating to land information and building & resource consents
  • Standardise building & resource consent administration & rates billing across all territorial authorities
  • Create a single building consent authority for the region
  • Link the regional growth strategy & plans endorsed by territorial authorities to relevant research about land supply & demand in the region
  • Develop a regional event facilities plan
  • Consolidate stadiums to ensure efficiencies & economies of scale
  • Initiate a regional symposium on the role of the town centre
  • Use the information gathered from that to develop & implement a policy on town centre development & revitalisation which encompasses consumer demand & investment decisions
  • Review nodal town centres to improve amenities and better regulate zoning & commercial activities so the town centre is a desirable place to live, work & play
  • Develop & integrate a more comprehensive housing affordability policy into the regional growth strategy, and
  • Develop & implement a policy for population, employment & a skilled labour market.

Related stories:
Property Council launches initiatives paper
The 26 points of Initiatives for Auckland
ARC strategy leader says Property Council’s affordability solution “an over-simplification”

Attribution: Company statement, story written by Bob Dey for this website.

Continue Reading

Property Council launches initiatives paper

Published 26 September 2007
The Property Council issued a kind of manifesto yesterday – a 26-point paper, Initiatives for Auckland, which chief executive Connal Townsend said was “a teaser for ideas” to get debate going.

He got an immediate bite on one aspect, the proposal to expand the metropolitan urban limits to improve land affordability. Auckland Regional Council regional strategy & planning committee chairman Paul Walbran shot back: “Releasing land on city fringes does not make housing more affordable. Instead, it will probably cause more problems than it solves.” (See link to separate story at foot of this page).

Earlier, at a media briefing, I raised a series of questions about:

  • how the Property Council hoped to advance its agenda
  • the practicality of some points – particularly support for both freeing up fringe land and intensification
  • the timeframe to show the escalation in industrial land & residential prices and, most importantly
  • this paper is a compilation of work already in hand but in some important aspects needs a hurry-up.

Mr Townsend said 2 key recommendations were reviewing the MUL & changing from rates-driven funding for infrastructure.

“The Auckland region must change its metropolitan urban limits to free up the supply of land and make a significant impact on the affordability of job-rich commercial development & housing in the region.

“Overseas results show that taking a flexible approach to city limits can have a major impact on affordability issues and this is something the Auckland region must look at.

“We need a comprehensive review of urban limits linked to both the latest research on population demand and the need for affordable housing.

“Available research shows it makes commercial sense to invest in higher-density developments and we should be making sure town centres are an attractive & exciting place where people want to live. But you shouldn’t favour one option at the expense of another if the result is a false constraint. That’s what we have now.

“Unless we take appropriate action now and look at deliverable outcomes, the Auckland region is forever going to struggle with crumbling, inefficient infrastructure, and the result will be crippling house prices & rates which will not sufficiently finance the answers.”

Mr Townsend said the discussion document also highlighted the unsustainable use of property rates to fund major infrastructure projects, and recommended debt-funded infrastructure projects to spread the costs over future generations that would also benefit from new infrastructure.

“We can’t keep playing catch-up and patching up the system we’ve got from the limited financial pool we have in the region. We’ve got to get away from a focus on rates, it’s inequitable. Why not use debt-funding to get ahead of the current demand on our creaking infrastructure and get future generations, who also benefit, to pay their share of that infrastructure?

“If we don’t look at different models for funding the region’s infrastructure, we will always be playing catch-up.”

The third major issue of the document concerns council compliance regimes: “The biggest cost for our members is time. Dealing with these numerous authorities and their varying compliance guidelines adds huge amounts of time, which means money, to the vast majority of building development, both residential & commercial in the region.

“We believe creating one council and a one-stop regional shop for building & resource consents would save time delays & compliance costs – costs which frequently end up being passed on to the consumers.

“One regional governance body & 20 community councils, with the existing city & district councils integrated into the new structure, would eliminate much of that cost.”

Some of the specifics

Auckland City Council has argued that allowing more greenfield development would undermine the compact-city concept under which town centres would become far more intensively developed. However, New Zealanders have not embraced living in multi-storey blocks in the way such living has been accepted in Australia – succeeding with concepts of urban villages is likely to require an upheaval of the Kiwi mindset.

Provision of more public transport services requires more intensification to make it pay its way, and the Property Council supports that. But, while the council’s research director, Daniel Newman, said “it’s going to be incumbent on those urban communities to think of ways of attracting people back into the town centres,” this opens up more questions.

Among them:

  • If there’s to be an incentive to live in a compact centre, who is to provide it?
  • And why should they?
  • How will that incentive compete with the incentive to reduce peripheral land prices?
  • Why should other citizens pay such an incentive to manipulate population movements?
  • Should town centres compete with one another, or will a blanket incentive scheme take the competitive edge away?

Mr Townsend & Mr Newman said changing the emphasis on the MUL to free up land shouldn’t have residential land as first priority – the shortage of commercial land was more acute. Mr Newman said changes to height limits were another aspect of dealing with land shortages – providing incentives for development which moved away from punitive development contributions policies.

Mr Townsend said that although the document hit the political market during a local body election campaign, the main target would be national politicians, who needed to implement some of the main changes.

One part of the presentation, I felt, was misleading, and that’s the 15-year timeframe for charts of industrial land prices & housing prices. The charts indicate 2 periods of recession to show slowdowns in the 1990s, but don’t indicate the state of the economy at the start point – 1992, when New Zealand’s property markets had slumped to their lowest point in the wake of the 1987 crash.

Mr Newman said that even showing the fall from 1980s price levels wouldn’t detract from the picture of a near-vertical price shift over the past 2 years.

Related stories:
26 September 2007: ARC strategy leader says Property Council’s affordability solution “an over-simplification”
26 September 2007: The 26 points of Initiatives for Auckland
26 September 2007: Property Council launches initiatives paper

Attribution: Property Council briefing, document, ARC release, story written by Bob Dey for this website.

Continue Reading

ARC “isn’t a development management agency” – but should it be?

You can respond to this article by picking up the thread I’ve started on the Forums page (click on Forums at BD Central).


 


The Auckland Regional Council “is not a development management agency,” Cllr Mike Lee said during a debate on a new proposal to develop a canal village off the Wairoa River, 4km from Clevedon & near the rivermouth.


 


It was one of 2 quite long debates at the council’s strategic policy committee today which got me going.


 


In the first, councillors were plainly not prepared properly to consider what should have been a straightforward decision on approval of a partial consent order which would allow Landco Ltd to proceed sooner on part of its Lunn Ave quarry development.


 


They ended up deferring a decision until they’d made a site visit.


 


On the Wairoa River scheme, regional council chairman Gwen Bull blamed the Manukau City Council’s failure to produce a structure plan for any delays.


 


In this Urban vision article, I raise questions on how development & planning for it should proceed. The article on the canal village proposal itself is in Propbd/Manukau/Clevedon. Links to that & an earlier article are at the foot of this article.


 


In 2001 and again today, Auckland regional councillors told the Wairoa River developer strategic concerns had to be ironed out before environmental effects are given any detailed assessment.


 


Councillors said that task, in this case, was the responsibility of the Manukau City Council, and it hadn’t done anything.


 


Regional council chairman Gwen Bull told the strategic policy committee today: “Manukau City have not done their strategic plan. They have not made up their minds as to what they want at Clevedon.”


 


The regional council’s message to Manukau is: “The southern sector agreement, draft rural southern sector agreement and the district rural growth strategy are seen as the appropriate vehicles to comprehensively consider & integrate how growth in the rural areas is to be accommodated, if appropriate, followed by structure planning for Clevedon, including the Wairoa River area.”


 


The “if appropriate” was added after Cllr Mike Lee made many of the points emphasised in 2001 – that this would probably be a catalyst for development, not a stand-alone project – and said: “This is not a development management agency.”


 


Cllr Bill Burrill backed up Mrs Bull, saying: “We’ve never heard on this in the last 2 years [at the southern sector working part of the Regional Growth Forum].”


 


Cllr Brian Smith said the regional council was often blamed for holding up development when the blame could be laid at somebody else’s door – as in this case, prior plans not being done. He suggested the whole subject – effectively, of how to deal with growth programming – be debated fully at the Regional Growth Forum “because it affects all councils.”


 


Cllr Sandra Coney said structure planning was about development: “Does Manukau City want to do a structure plan, and if it doesn’t why should it have to?”


 


Committee chairman Cllr Ian Bradley said, flippantly but with a large grain of truth: “You have to have a plan to do nothing these days.”


 


The council’s policy implementation manager, Hugh Jarvis, said Manukau should mention in its district plan whether it wanted the Wairoa valley developed or left untouched. At Clevedon, he said, the issue of notifying a retirement village proposal, which would double the size of Clevedon, “is still simmering.”


 


Said Cllr Lee: “Once you open development in that area you’ll get urban sprawl right up that valley, linking up with Clevedon, and it won’t just be an isolated suburb. It is a very sensitive area and in fact is part of the Hauraki Gulf.”


 


But Cllr Bull countered: “Whether we like it or not, there is development going there. There are 2 landfills filling in valleys for subdivisions.”


 


Strategic policy analyst Emma Oliver set out the council position clearly enough in her report on Westminster Properties’ renewed effort to get a canal development under way, saying the key issue to be decided was whether it was appropriate, and outlining the process under the regional policy statement – from regional down to local strategies & plans.


 


It’s clearly a city council task to prepare a structure plan, and probably a catchment plan, but the regional councillors’ message was also this: Initial input to sector agreements has to come from the territorial authorities, not the regional council.


 


The sector agreements were set up to co-ordinate planning at the Regional Growth Forum, rather than have individual councils going their own way, leaving others in the dark.


 


I’ve written before that there is clearly not enough non-council contribution to the forum & planning processes, and the sector agreements are an ideal way of introducing wider thinking.


 


What the regional councillors are also saying, in throwing the Wairoa canals proposal back to Manukau City, is that development planning must follow this course:

A developer thinks of a scheme, puts a lot of work into it and takes it to the local council
The local council wraps some planning around it, in the form of catchment & structure plans and perhaps other plans
The local council considers the proposal
The regional council considers wider environmental issues, perhaps in tandem with the local council
It all makes its way to the Environment Court after a long time.


In many cases, on the region’s fringes:

the proposal is outside the metropolitan urban limit
the development has to stand alone because the developer wants it to be “unique” or “different”
few, or maybe no, local (or even New Zealand) examples may exist of the type of development proposed, so special consideration has to be given to it.


While Cllr Lee says the regional council isn’t a “development management agency,” it really is. If there were to be no change, the council wouldn’t be needed. As there is constant change, and constant demand for change outside today’s boundaries, the council is there to ensure it doesn’t cause excessive damage (and the definition of excess is subjective).


 


The council is not charged with doing nothing, although it might find through analysis that no development should occur.


 


In an area like Clevedon, or the Wairoa valley, or the nearby Whitford catchment, a proactive agency would have at least the rudiments of planning structures in place. The regional planning agency needs to have the whole region marked out – not in the form of a prescription, because under the Resource Management Act prescription is out of favour – but in the form of guidelines.


 


That’s probably asking far too much of anybody, and asking far too much of the region’s ratepayers to, in effect, write a dictionary before you come up with a new word. Discussion is needed, not just in the confines of planners’ sessions after a development proposal surfaces, but in the wider community on a continuing basis.


 


You can respond to this article by picking up the thread I’ve started on the Forums page (click on Forums at BD Central).


 


Today’s news story: New push for Wairoa River canal village gets same old answer


Earlier story, 10 March 2001: Force’s canal village concept before regional council


 

Continue Reading
WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux