Archive | Planning

Churton warns Orakei board of declining standards from relentless intensification

Orakei Local Board member Troy Churton has questioned residential intensification at several spots around the ward in his report to the board’s meeting on Thursday, chiefly for height infringements, being out of character & resultant commuter congestion.

He’s also raised a question over the impact of cycleways on St Stephens Avenue & Gladstone Rd, which Auckland Transport is pursuing.

In his report as the board’s lead member on planning & regulatory matters, Mr Churton said that at a training day & workshop he discussed “‘triggers’ requiring planners to forward files to me for comment as to whether they should be notified or not”.

He went on to list projects where he understood the developer intended to breach the 16m height limit, notably at 29-35 & 37 Coates Avenue, Orakei, and, in one case, the quality of design on a landmark site “where the very best of design standards should be implemented”.

In his report on 29-35 Coates Avenue, Mr Churton said: “I do not accept the assessment of environment effects report at page 10 suggesting it is appropriate to disregard effects below 16m simply because a previous consent may have found there to be no more than minor effects for a 4-storey building previously applied for and of lower height.

“The receiving environment of this development is the area of Coates Avenue that currently has some multi-storeyed development. Overall the proposal is to likely to contribute to an obvious dominant high, built environment. This is said to be consistent with the future character of the area.

“It is, however, currently not the character of the area and there can be no expectation that just because a one’s set of standards enables certain types of development, that the community & landowners suddenly forego concern for the existing state of character or will seek to exploit those activities.

“The future character of the area relies on developments that are designed to meet standards and not infringe them. This proposal may, for want of being designed to meet height & height:boundary standards, therefore disrupts amenity value in the existing neighbourhood of mostly lower level surrounding residential built form & character.

“It will plainly meet many other unitary plan purposes and would not attract a notification trigger if designed to standard as to height & height:boundary.

“If the advice that I received in my training recently was that standards are to be upheld, then this matter presents an adverse effect as to height that is more than minor and should be notified.

“If, however, council planners intend on facilitating an ongoing culture of enabling developers to treat standards they are all very aware of in due diligence for a site and as measures to be willingly infringed, then there is a case to say the positive effects of the proposal in this zone & area may mitigate the potential adverse effects.”

Meadowbank Station & commuter parking

On the development proposal for 4 Koa St, Meadowbank – 14 units on 3 levels plus 10 basement parking spaces – Mr Churton said Housing NZ owned houses in the street and supported the application and the applicant wanted limited notification.

However, he questioned the adequacy of parking provision in a cul de sac which was some distance (450m) from the Meadowbank station but wasn’t exempt from commuter parking because commuters’ cars already saturated the area.

“While I have reservations about the bulk & scale, by itself in this zone it is not such an infringement as to be a special circumstance that would likely meet the requirements for discretionary public notification. However, there is a very high degree of public interest in ensuring quality built environs in this area as a number of other intensification projects are pursued, some from Housing NZ.”

Mr Churton suggested this development go to the council’s urban design panel for approval before a final decision was made on notification.

On a development proposal for 234, 236 & 236A Kepa Rd, on a prominent arterial ridgeline at the top of Mission Bay, Mr Churton said the proposed height infringement of up to 1m might seem small but, in an area where other intensification was also planned, the precaution of notification should be taken: “The cumulative effects of such a mass of multi-storey development where height infringements might be allowed for some is, in my view, a more than minor effect.”

At 9-11 Purewa Rd, Meadowbank, Mr Churton raised the quality objection: “Whilst not adverse [averse, I think] to intensification per se, the board views are to believe this proposed development will have a seriously detrimental effect on what is at present a desirable & sought-after residential area of our ward.”

He said a number of residents in the vicinity objected to “the poor design features”, drastically changed from the initial proposal “to a series of tenement-like structures with outdated features which have long been discarded in modern building practice- ie, external stairways.

“The size, and more importantly the density, of the planned construction has potential for adverse social impacts on an otherwise safe & pleasant community. This area of Meadowbank St Johns is already facing saturation problems with the increased traffic flow & parking overload on local streets from intensification, growing commuter use of the Meadowbank train station and the expansion from the nearby retirement village expansion.”

Mr Churton said the Purewa Rd site next to Hobson Bay & the railway line was a gateway to the Orakei ward via rail: “This is an example of a site where the very best of design standards should be implemented.”

Cycleways

Mr Churton said these cycleways on St Stephens Avenue & Gladstone Rd would eradicate onstreet parking for fringe cbd residents & workers as well as destination parking for tourism to places like the Rose Gardens on Gladstone Rd.

He said they also had “no apparent connection” to changes that might happen along Tamaki Drive or in stage 4 of the shared path crossing.

He wants the board to meet Auckland Transport to discuss the cycleways & stage 4 shared path across Hobson Bay.

Links:
Orakei Local Board agenda
12, Notice of motion, Member Troy Churton – Tamaki Drive & wider cycle route integration
Recommendation
25, Board member report, Troy Churton 
Addendum – examples of notification comments made as portfolio leader
NZ Transport Agency: Auckland urban cycleways programme
Auckland Transport: Cycling & walking programme

Attribution: Board agenda.

Continue Reading

Mediation agreement signed for Ryman’s Devonport village

Ryman Healthcare Ltd said on Friday its new Devonport village was set to proceed following mediation talks with objectors.

The Devonport Peninsula Precincts Society appealed against the development to the Environment Court after Auckland Council planning commissioners granted resource consent in January for the village on Ngataringa Rd.

Ryman, the society, the NZ Institute of Architects & Urban Auckland have since been in mediation over the retirement village plans for the 4.2ha site owned by Ngati Whatua Orakei.

Ryman development manager Andrew Mitchell said differences were resolved amicably and all parties had signed an agreement. The resolution requires final approval from the Environment Court.

The 6 buildings of the proposed village were up to 6 storeys high, and Devonport residents opposed bulk & height. The parties haven’t disclosed changes to height or design, or how the increased traffic on Lake Rd will be dealt with.

It’s the first largescale consent on the North Shore considered under Auckland’s new unitary plan, and the society said on its website the factors opponents raised would remain relevant for the other largescale development sites (see map above).

Link: Devonport Peninsula Precincts Society

Attribution: Company release, society website.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

Council agrees to reprioritise land supply schedule

Auckland Council’s planning committee skipped the most pressing part of its business yesterday – decisions on refreshing the overarching Auckland Plan – but did spend time on its future urban land supply strategy.

Committee chair Chris Darby said the Auckland Plan refresh and how the council would consult on it had been deferred until Tuesday 28 March because more preparation was needed.

But the committee discussed in detail the future land supply strategy and agreed to a number of changes to sequencing.

Staff recommended advancing work on some areas and deferring it elsewhere because of infrastructure constraints. The estimate to install bulk infrastructure over the next 30 years is $19.7 billion.

Areas to be brought forward: Warkworth North, Wainui East, Silverdale (business), Red Hills, Puhinui (business), Wesley (Paerata), Opaheke Drury, Drury South.

Areas to be pushed back: Kumeu-Huapai-Riverhead, Whenuapai stage 2, Drury West stage 2, Puhinui (business), Red Hills North, Warkworth North-east & Takanini.

Public consultation on the Auckland Plan is scheduled for the period 29 March-18 April.

East-West link

The planning committee also identified a number of concerns about the East-West link project intended to run through Onehunga.

The Government identified the project as a road of national significance and referred it to a board of inquiry. The NZ Transport Agency’s applications were publicly notified on 22 February and submissions close on 22 March.

  • This is an overly short version of events at yesterday’s committee meeting – being in 2 places at once doesn’t always work. I’ll come back with more detail on the land issues and the East-West link.

Link: 
Committee agenda

Attribution: Council release, agenda.

Continue Reading

Maori board fails in appeal over mana whenua sites

High Court judge Ed Wylie ruled yesterday that the independent panel on Auckland’s unitary plan didn’t err in recommending the sites of value for mana whenua be deleted.

The Independent Maori Statutory Board appealed the deletion, but Justice Wylie rejected all the board’s appeal points.

Justice Wylie wrote in his decision yesterday: “In my judgment, the independent hearings panel was entitled to reach the conclusions and make the recommendations it did. It heard evidence from a large number of parties, both for & against retaining (&/or expanding) the overlay. It was for the panel as a specialist independent body to exercise its judgment in evaluating the evidence put before it at the hearings.

“It was open to the panel to recommend deletion of the sites of value to mana whenua overlay on the basis that, without evidence of mana whenua values that provided support for all of the sites in the schedule and in the overlay, the provisions as a whole lacked a sufficient evidential basis.”

When Auckland Council released its draft unitary plan in March 2013, it proposed 2 layers of protection for sites & places of Maori cultural heritage. The first contained a schedule of 61 sites of significance, and the second contained a Maori cultural heritage alert layer which would extend to about 9000 sites.

After feedback, the plan was amended in September 2013 and the second layer was reduced to 3600 sites. However, an error on the planning maps meant the radius of circled sites was doubled to 100m.

In evidence in 2015, the council told the independent hearings panel 2213 sites met the criteria of being Maori, had mana whenua values ascribed to them, and their location was confirmed. The council recommended another 1373 be removed from the schedule.

In March 2016, the council withdrew 593 sites, left 3007 scheduled, and said 2213 were considered to be of Maori origin, had cultural values for mana whenua and their locations had been confirmed.

However, the hearings panel decided to recommend to the council that it delete the schedule in its entirety “until the evidential basis for it has been assembled”.

When the council went through the final process on the plan, going through all the hearings panel’s recommendations and deciding whether to accept or reject them, staff recommended rejecting the panel’s deletion of the Maori places schedule.

The councillors, however, decided to accept the panel’s recommendations, which led the Independent Maori Statutory Board to appeal, eventually, on 9 points of law.

On each one, Justice Wylie found the hearings panel was entitled to reach the conclusion it did.

Auckland University environmental law associate professor Ken Palmer, who appeared on the appeal on his own account, argued that the council’s approach to the evaluation of sites of value to mana whenua didn’t follow the conventional approach, went beyond reasonable regulation and added a layer of complexity & uncertainty to the plan, placing an added burden on the owners of the affected private land.

If the council accepted a recommendation of the independent hearings panel, it didn’t have to give reasons. Justice Wylie accepted that point in dismissing the Independent Maori Statutory Board’s appeal.

Attribution: Judgment.

Continue Reading

Council to choose Auckland Plan refresh option

Auckland Council’s planning committee will decide tomorrow on which of 5 options to follow to refresh the region’s overarching planning document, the Auckland Plan.

The plan was approved in 2012, in the first term of the super-city council, and was followed by a series of related plans for the central area, the waterfront, local board plans and, the biggest of them all, the unitary plan combining regional policy statements & the district plan.

The council’s strategic advice manager, Denise O’Shaughnessy, said in her report to the committee that, while the Auckland Plan had proven to be an important & useful document, “it has shortcomings which have become evident during implementation. These shortcomings include outdated data, limited integration, a complex structure, too much low-level content, limited prioritisation and a weak monitoring & reporting framework. In addition, the plan is in hard-copy form and therefore cannot be easily updated or accessed.”

Staff have recommended option 4 – “a streamlined spatial approach” – to replace the existing plan “on the basis that it provides appropriate focus on spatial components while ensuring these are strongly connected to the achievement of high-level social, economic, environmental & cultural objectives. The option structures the plan around a small number of interlinked themes that address Auckland’s biggest challenges.”

The other options were a light update, a full update, updating only the development strategy, and a streamlined version that would include detailed non-spatial initiatives & narrative.

The recommended option 4’s update cost is estimated at $2.69-3.53 million, in the mid-range of estimates for the 5 options.

Option 4 would:

  • update & add new general facts & figures
  • use a small number of organising & interlinked themes around Auckland’s key challenges
  • set high level objectives, both spatial & non-spatial, in these theme areas with a brief narrative
  • focus on development strategy to reflect unitary plan decisions; infrastructure strategy; strategic work on urban, rural & future urban development areas; national policy statement on urban development capacity requirements; and create a new growth model
  • exclude any further non-spatial initiatives, narrative or detail and remove more detailed operational directives
  • creates a limited number of high level indicators to track progress and measures to guide the work programme
  • removes all other material in the existing plan, and
  • create a digital plan.

Staff have recommended targeted early public engagement through channels such as online feedback/polling & workshops with community group representatives from May-July. That would be followed next year by a special consultative procedure on the draft refreshed Auckland Plan, at the same time as the council consults on its draft long-term plan.

Link:
Committee agenda item: Options for refreshing the Auckland Plan

Attribution: Committee agenda.

Continue Reading

Unitary plan ‘operative in part’, and courts want speed on appeals

The parts of the Auckland unitary plan not subject to appeal officially became operative yesterday.

The plan is officially referred to as the ‘Auckland unitary plan operative in part’, and is on the council’s website.

Those operative parts of the plan replace the district & regional plans of Auckland’s 8 councils that were replaced when the super-city was established in 2010.

Auckland Council unitary plan manager Celia Davison said large parts of the regional policy statement, regional plan and some parts of the district plan have been made operative because most of the appeals relate to specific sites or specific provisions in the plan: “For those parts of the plan still subject to appeal, the old rules will remain in place, with the council being required to assess all resource consent applications against the relevant parts of both the old & new plans.

“Decisions will need to be made on a case-by-case basis as to how much weight can be given to the Auckland unitary plan versus the legacy district & regional plans.”

This consists of annotated text & maps that will help users of the plan to identify the parts that are not yet operative & under appeal.

Once all appeals are resolved, the unitary plan will be made fully operative.

The process & timeframe for resolving the appeals is a matter for the courts. However, Ms Davison said the council would work with all parties to ensure they’re resolved quickly.

Those parts of the unitary plan that are not operative are:

  • Those provisions that remain subject to Environment Court & High Court appeals
  • The regional coastal plan component of the proposed plan, as it requires separate approval from the Minister of Conservation under section 152(3)(b) of the Local Government (Auckland Transitional Provisions) Act 2010 and clause 18(3) of schedule 1 of the Resource Management Act, and
  • Certain designations which appear in the proposed plan.

“Out of scope” appeals & Environment Court mediation

High Court judge Christian Whata decided in October to resolve the broad “out of scope” appeals with a test case or cases on the scope of the independent hearings panel to make recommendations.

Justice Whata said: “The objective of the test case(s) will be to provide a principled framework for the resolution of the individual claims. Individual parties will be directed to indicate whether the resolution of the test case will resolve their claims as to scope and, if not, why not.”

The broad “out of scope” appeals were filed by the Character Coalition, Auckland 2040 and Franco Belgiorno-Nettis.

The Environment Court sought comments by today on council assessment of overlap between appeals to the 2 courts and recommendations for mediation. The Environment Court will then set many cases down for mediation.

The court minute notes the urgency of dealing with the plan: “Parties should understand that, where mediation does not work (whether in full or in part), hearings will commence very shortly thereafter, and timetables for preparation for an early hearing will be put before a judge for urgent approval.”

Link:

Unitary plan

Attribution: Council release, court minutes.

Continue Reading

National policy statement on urban development capacity takes effect in December

The Government has signed off its national policy statement on urban development capacity, aimed at ensuring councils in rapidly growing urban areas provide enough land for new housing & business development.

Environment, Building & Housing Minister Nick Smith said on Monday: “The national policy statement requires councils to allow for a greater supply of houses, so prices rise more slowly and houses are more affordable. The long-term root cause of New Zealand’s housing affordability problems is insufficient land supply, especially in Auckland, where median section prices increased 350% from 1990 to now. Building costs increased only 78% during the same time.

“The policy statement will require councils to base their decisions on better information, including house prices in their areas. It is also a powerful lever for those seeking additional residential zoning from councils in that they can appeal council decisions to the Environment Court on the basis the council is not meeting supply requirements.”

The policy statement takes effect on 1 December. Dr Smith said biggest councils experiencing high growth would be most affected, including Auckland, Christchurch, Tauranga & Hamilton. Smaller, fast-growing places such as Nelson & Queenstown would also be affected.

“It also requires local authorities & infrastructure providers to better co-ordinate the provision of services needed to support housing & business growth.”

Dr Smith said it had taken under 9 months to deliver this policy statement, compared to the standard 3 years: “This reflects the importance of action on housing and the increased emphasis on the use of national Resource Management Act tools. It sits alongside the new unitary plan [in Auckland] & the Government’s Resource Management Act reforms to address the core issue of increasing land supply.

The building consent picture

“Today we’ve also seen building consents figures which show we’re in the midst of the longest & strongest building boom on record, with the total value of building work for the year to September hitting $18.7 billion.

“Nationally 29,935 residential building consents were issued for the year to September – an increase of 122% compared with 5 years ago. In Auckland, 9960 consents were issued, up 186% on 5 years ago.

“It is particularly encouraging that construction work in Auckland has grown 36% in the past year, to $7.2 billion.

“Just last week we announced a heads of agreement on a 104-dwelling development at New North Rd in Mt Albert and turned the first sod at a 196-dwelling development in Massey East, both of which are part of our Crown land housing programme. I also turned the first sod at a 1350-dwelling development in a special housing area at Drury.

“This government is step by step, development by development, getting on and addressing Auckland’s housing challenges.”

Earlier stories:
1 November 2016: Auckland share of new home consents drops, intensive ratio holds
27 June 2016: Lawyers take issue with minister’s urban land target
14 March 2016: Council says Government approach wrong on resource management reform
10 August 2015: Council has forthright message for Government on land for housing
27 July 2015: Another contortion on development capacity
19 July 2015: Unitary plan panel sets programme for April 2016 hearings conclusion
17 July 2015: Council wants feedback on greenfield rezoning sequence
19 June 2015: Key points from land for housing report
Commission looks behind high land prices

Attribution: Ministerial release.

Continue Reading
WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux