Archive | Spatial plan

Notification sets Whenuapai on course for urbanisation

Auckland Council will publicly notify the proposed plan change tomorrow to rezone 124ha at Whenuapai from the future urban zone to urban zones. The submission period will close on Thursday 19 October and independent commissioners will hear submissions in the first half of 2018.

In the map: The central purple zones are for light industry. The yellow to brown zones are for a range of residential intensities.

It’s the first step in urbanisation of rural Whenuapai and is in the first batch of plan changes under the new unitary plan, now operative in part. Others approved for notification by the council’s planning committee on 5 September were for extension of the Auranga subdivision at Drury and for Fletcher Residential Ltd’s subdivision at the Three Kings quarry.

The plan change for stage 1 development in the south-east corner of Whenuapai provides for 124ha of light industrial land and capacity for 4-5000 homes.

Planning committee chair Chris Darby said a large amount of infrastructure was required for the greenfield area, and the plan change aimed to ensure infrastructure was in place to support all development.

Issues it addresses include managing stormwater run-off and ensuring there are opportunities to enhance the degraded stream & coastal environment, mostly through planting along streams.

The proposed plan change would also protect an historic heritage area in Clarks Lane and an anti-aircraft battery site on Spedding Rd.

Assuming plan change approval, stage 1 construction is likely to occur between 2018-28.

Stage 2 of the larger Whenuapai area is constrained by the new Northern Interceptor wastewater pipeline due to be built in 2026, and transport infrastructure outlined in the supporting growth strategy, which is necessary to support development. A further plan change will be required for stage 2.

Cllr Darby said: Notification of the plan change for stage 1 is a positive sign, showing that we’re moving from the planning phase to actually making land available for real homes that people can live in.

“It follows successful structure planning for the area – the first in a number of structure plans that will eventually pave the way for up to 137,000 new homes in north, north-west & southern greenfield areas.”

Attribution: Council release & committee agenda.

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Second round for Auranga precinct confirms Drury as major growth centre

Drury, 35km south of Auckland’s city centre, is the new centre of activity in the Auckland region, with construction of between 6100 & 10,800 homes anticipated on 1000ha there within 10 years.

That’s a potential population explosion of 30,000 people in an area that was all greenfields 2 years ago, apart from the small Drury township which, at the 2013 census, had 1200 homes and a population of just over 3500 – up by only 140 in 6 years.

Image above: The masterplan for the first stage of Auranga.

A planned, and very large, piece of it is the industrial expansion by Stevenson Group Ltd from its quarry in the hills east of State Highway 1 across to the highway. The company secured planning approval in 2013 to rezone 361ha of rural & quarry land for a mix of industrial & business development.

In 2015, Charles Ma’s Karaka & Drury Ltd had its 68ha Drury precinct 1 proposal approved as a special housing area, projecting its whole development would yield 1000-1500 new homes over 7-9 years, with the first homes ready for occupation by the end of 2017. The land was rural, but zoned future urban under the proposed Auckland unitary plan.

Kiwi Property Group Ltd spotted Drury’s potential and bought some of 51.3ha at Drury in April, with agreements to secure the balance, to create a new town centre next to Stevenson’s site. Kiwi’s 3 greenfield sites are next to the junction of the Southern Motorway, Great South Rd and the North Island main trunk railway line.

Auckland Council’s structure plan map for Drury-Opaheke. The future urban-zoned land, including Auranga 1B, is in yellow. Stevenson’s Drury South industrial precinct, in purple, is at the lower right of the map.

Plan change accepted for notification

Last Tuesday, Mr Ma’s company was at Auckland Council’s planning committee seeking approval to extend its Auranga subdivision from the initial precinct 1, and to rezone the 84.6ha extension as mixed housing urban & mixed housing suburban, providing for about 1300 more homes. The committee accepted the private plan change, which will now be publicly notified & opened to submissions.

There was potential for a hiccup, because the council had already turned down Mr Ma’s request to rezone part of this land in 2015 for 2 main reasons: concerns about the impact of the proposed development on existing transport infrastructure, and the need for a structure plan to be prepared for the wider area.

Structure & catchment plans are the bane of developers’ lives because they invariably follow the developer’s bright ideas – the country has not been mapped out in precise structure plans well in advance of development dreams yet to be dreamt.

The council plans set limits which are often inconvenient, slow in arriving & expensive. For both developer & council, those plans are a cost incurred well before any likely return from development, and subsequent rates payments.

In this case, the council has embarked on its own structure plan process for a wider area running from Drury up Opaheke Rd to Papakura. However, the report to Tuesday’s committee meeting by principal planner Barry Mosley & planning manager Celia Davison acknowledged that Mr Ma’s company had lodged its private plan change before the council embarked on its own Drury-Opaheke structure planning process and it wouldn’t compromise that process, as the land subject to the private plan change request was relatively confined, the proposed land use was the most appropriate and wouldn’t foreclose the consideration of other appropriate outcomes.

“In short,” the council planners wrote, “the council’s ability to pursue a full range of options for the Drury-Opaheke area through the structure plan process will not be constrained by the private plan change request.

“Secondly, bulk infrastructure is already proposed to service land within the adjacent Drury 1 precinct, and preliminary assessments indicate that this bulk infrastructure can be logically & efficiently designed to service the Auranga B1 land & parts of the wider Drury area.”

The council planning committee adopted its refreshed future urban land supply strategy on 4 July, confirming its 1016ha growth target at Drury west of State Highway 1. The council expects land release in that wider area to start in 2022 north of State Highway 22, and in 2028 south of State Highway 22.

Ma to leverage off infrastructure he’s creating in first precinct

Charles Ma at the launch of Auranga stage 1 in October 2016.

Mr Ma’s company intends to leverage off the infrastructure he’s creating in the initial Auranga area to develop the proposed B1 private plan change area.

The whole area requires new trunk wastewater sewerage, with connecting branches. A wastewater pump station is being built at 207 Bremner Rd in the Drury 1 precinct, designed to service a population of 10,000, including the residential component of Stevenson’s Drury South development and its Drury South industrial precinct.

In addition, a site is being reserved for a Watercare Services Ltd pump station that can service additional dwellings and enable Watercare to develop a wider wastewater network.

Watercare & Veolia Water Solutions Technologies NZ Ltd (which took over Papakura District’s water supply before the super-city was created in 2010) are working through a number of possible solutions to ensure security of water supply for Drury. The council planners said: “At this point there is reliance on one bulk supply point via connection to water sourced from the Waikato River. A possible solution to ensuring a backup water supply is to establish a second bulk supply point with connection to a Hunua water source.”

They said transport infrastructure upgrades would be required to enable development within the Drury 1 precinct, and Mr Ma’s Karaka & Drury was finalising an infrastructure funding agreement to enable delivery of upgrades, which will also largely unlock the potential of the Auranga B1 land.

The Karaka & Drury company intends to provide all necessary stormwater infrastructure within Auranga B1.

The council planning committee approved a structure planning programme for Drury-Opaheke on 1 August, to be completed within 12 months. Key strategic issues to be considered in that include:

  • the location of & appropriate number of centres
  • transport infrastructure, including the location & number of train stations
  • the location & mix of residential & commercial/industrial land; and
  • the location, size & function of parks, reserves & community facilities.

The council planners said in their report aspects of the Auranga plan change would need to be tested through the submission & hearings process, but added: “The scope & extent of the changes sought do not, in themselves, threaten the purpose & principles of the Resource Management Act when considered at this preliminary stage. The private plan change request is therefore considered to be in accordance with sound resource management practice.”

Local boards differ on timing

Papakura Local Board members didn’t support the Auranga plan change request now as they considered it premature and that it would place significant pressure on existing infrastructure: “They have also expressed concerns that the request, if accepted (and when combined with current development existing & proposed in the wider area), would adversely impact on the Drury motorway exchange & infrastructure.”

However, the Franklin Local Board supported the proposed plan change in principle, saying it was a logical extension of the existing special housing area & Drury 1 precinct. Franklin board members were also pleased it sought to develop a sustainable new community in an area that is well placed to deliver new centres, jobs & infrastructure improvements, and it could be progressed alongside work on the Drury-Opaheke structure plan. The Franklin board said the council & Mr Ma should seek a partnership approach to make the 2 processes complementary.

Council development programme office general manager John Dunshea told the committee water from the Flanagans Rd bulk supply point would also pass through the Auranga land to the Hingaia Peninsula, which had been constrained by the lack of bulk supply.

Cllr Daniel Newman said Hingaia had already been live-zoned from future urban when it didn’t have the infrastructure to take new housing, but he expected the whole area east of State Highway 1 to face challenges “sooner than in a decade” – Drury East in particular.

“That will make this footprint in this part of Auckland attractive to the market and we will have to do structure planning to implement that.”

Links:
Planning committee agenda, Tuesday 5 September
11, Auckland unitary plan (operative in part) – private plan change request from Karaka & Drury Ltd – Auranga B1

Earlier stories:
7 April 2017: Kiwi Property plans new town centre next to Stevenson’s Drury development
31 October 2016: Work starts on 3 striking special housing area projects
24 August 2016: Work set to start after fast approval for Auranga special housing area at Drury
4 July 2015: 2 large special housing areas for Franklin
30 August 2013: Drury South industrial area plan change & MUL extension approved
4 September 2012: Drury South plan changes notified

Attribution: Council committee meeting & agenda.

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Council starts public process for city centre & waterfront planning refresh, plus 3 subdivision plan changes

Auckland Council’s planning committee agreed yesterday to a refresh programme for the city centre & waterfront, but it will be 10 months before the final version of it is decided.

It’s also complicated by requirements evolving for the America’s Cup yachting contest to be held in Auckland in 2019, and where the estimated 30,000m² of land for the bases plus water spaces for the yachts might go.

The large programme of works for city centre & waterfront would be implemented under a review of the original central business district & waterfront plans completed in 2012.

But first the councillors & Independent Maori Statutory Board members have to put their money caps on, in their roles as the finance & performance committee, to prioritise works. That committee’s scheduled to meet (twice) in a fortnight.

And then the whole shebang has to go out to public consultation early next year as part of the council’s long-term plan review, returning to the council for signoff just before the start of the new financial year on 1 July 2018.

3 plan changes & a tidy-up under the new unitary plan

A second novelty yesterday came in the form of 4 plan changes – the first batch under the super-city’s unitary plan, which combines an updated composite of all the district plans of the councils 7 territorial predecessors and also includes an updated regional policy statement.

The unitary plan is still not fully operative, with parts of it before the courts. 2 of the proposed changes to it before the committee yesterday were private – from Karaka & Drury Ltd (Charles Ma) to extend its Auranga subdivision at Drury, and from Fletcher Residential Ltd, recognising an agreement with opponents of the company’s Three Kings quarry residential development.

The other 2 plan changes were brought by the council, one for its rezoning of land at Whenuapai from future urban so development can start on part of it over the next 4 years, with later stages set for development starting in 2028.

The last change, from the council, is to correct technical errors & anomalies discovered in the unitary plan.

  • You can check the detail in the refresh and the plan change proposals through the links below. I’ll roll out articles on each of them, and yesterday’s debate, over the next few hours.

Planning committee agenda, Tuesday 5 September
9, City centre & waterfront planning refresh
11, Auckland unitary plan (operative in part) – private plan change request from Karaka & Drury Ltd – Auranga B1
12, Auckland unitary plan (operative in part) – private plan change request by Fletcher Residential Ltd – Three Kings 
13, Auckland unitary plan (operative in part) – proposed plan change – Whenuapai 
14, Auckland unitary plan (operative in part) – proposed plan change – administrative plan change – to correct technical errors & anomalies

Story, 1 September 2017: Grand downtown & waterfront plans raise the question: The money?

Attribution: Council committee agenda & meeting.

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Grand downtown & waterfront plans raise the question: The money?

Some grand plans to advance Auckland Council’s 5-year-old waterfront & city centre plans will go to the council’s planning committee on Tuesday.

Image above: A Wynyard Quarter “regional destination park” is proposed at the outer point where the idea of an iconic structure was early tossed around.

2 words are central to the planning review: “Whose money?”

Take these 4 statements sprinkled through the report to the committee:

  • “The proposed funding & delivery scenarios are to be interrogated & tested during the long-term plan process. Priority projects will be supported by business cases, including a total value analysis. Once decisions have been made, they will be incorporated into the long-term plan public consultation.”
  • “For Wynyard Quarter, key drivers for the refresh include the need to create more feasible development packages, in order that returns from private development can contribute to the costs of public infrastructure & open space.”
  • “A realignment of the Wynyard Point park… delivering more rational development sites for private investment.”
  • “Funding is in place for the Auckland Transport bus projects but a realignment of or addition to budgets for other projects will be required.”

Those financial points are crucial to how streets around the central city and the waterfront itself are to offer better use, and how public transport will fit, but they aren’t the priority.

What is priority is to unleash a feast of ideas. What ought to be priority is a co-ordinated view of how these ideas can be brought forward practically, and funded.

Weighing on the offer are these:

  • The future of the port’s 2 functions, cruise & cargo
  • Hosting of the America’s Cup and hosting of the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation) meeting, both in 2021.

Devising a programme and working out the requirements for the yachting event make sense because it’s a mega-dollar occasion from which Auckland stands to profit enormously. The visit of the foreign politicians is one the city ought to be able to take in its stride.

The next round of publicly discussing the council’s future port study is scheduled for the planning committee’s October meeting. Again, money is the key feature – firstly, what Auckland stands to lose by sending the freight business out of town; secondly, what it might gain by having a new port conveniently nearby; thirdly, how a cruise sector perhaps treble the size it is now can be accommodated.

Down at ground level, the planning report touches on bus routes, pedestrian & cycle-friendly access between the city waterfront & Wynyard Quarter, and pedestrian boulevarding the city-centre few blocks of Quay St (though it’s not spelled out quite so plainly).

But for all the focus on improving public transport access, the report suggestions emanating from Auckland Transport would have isthmus bus commuters at the bottom of town walking about 3 blocks further than they do now to reach their stop. Without too much cover from the elements.

The whole committee series of workshops has been conducted behind closed doors, and there is no apparent reason for that, other than the belief that participants in a discussion should be free to speak their minds without the rest of the world hearing, without statements being taken out of context, and – most importantly, but usually knocked back to least important – without the public being taken on the discussion journey until something concrete is laid out.

What is mapped out is the use of the public realm – affecting many private interests – and if discussion is public there’s a good chance somebody outside the forum will add an idea that hadn’t been thought of.

Despite the freedom of all that private discussion, the answer to the crucial financial questions is not in the agenda. If the council runs to form, it will skirt the question and the uncertainty will remain.

The report’s authors were Senior Panuku project planning leader Joanna Smith, Panuku & Ateed cruise project manager John Smith and Auckland Transport city centre & rapid transport network initiatives manager Daniel Newcombe.

Plan changes on the way

Also on the agenda for the planning committee’s meeting on Tuesday are a number of plan changes for the Auranga development at Drury, from Fletcher Residential Ltd at 3 Kings, for Whenuapai and to correct technical errors & anomalies in the unitary plan, which is now largely operative.

Links:
Planning committee agenda, Tuesday 5 September (9.30am, Town Hall)
9, City centre & waterfront planning refresh
11, Auckland unitary plan (operative in part) – private plan change request from Karaka & Drury Ltd – Auranga B1
12, Auckland unitary plan (operative in part) – private plan change request by Fletcher Residential Ltd – Three Kings 
13, Auckland unitary plan (operative in part) – proposed plan change – Whenuapai 
14, Auckland unitary plan (operative in part) – proposed plan change – administrative plan changeto correct technical errors & anomalies

Attribution: Council committee agenda, mayoral release.

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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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other items considered:

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

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

Item 11, Waterfront planning & implementation:

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

Item 12, Update on Panuku work programme:

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

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

Item 13, Onehunga high level project plan:

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

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

The committee approved the council’s submission.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Attribution: Committee meeting, council staff report.

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Productivity Commission goes back to first principles on urban planning

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

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

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

The current planning system – the commission’s diagnosis:

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

What changes are needed?

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

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

Central government role

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 critical goals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Attribution: Productivity Commission.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The central issue

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

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

The first planning question

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

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

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

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

The third issue is longer-term

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

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

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

Today’s stories – and for the next week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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.

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