Supporters of more intensive development in Auckland lost heavily in the closing stages of Auckland Council’s deliberations on the draft unitary plan last August, as councillors favouring lowrise designs & the suburban standalone lifestyle won votes to impose lower height limits, minimum parking controls & height-boundary controls, and shifting many properties from the apartments zone to a range of less intensive housing zones.
Among moves to reintroduce more intensification through the unitary plan is a proposal to increase development density around nodes, with levies to pay for the infrastructure, called the Auckland transport initiative (ATI).
As the unitary plan enters the last 3 weeks of the formal submissions period with the upper hand held by the lowrise suburbanists, intensification specialist Peter Chevin has been trying to build support for more development to be allowed around nodes.
Mr Chevin needs no introduction to the Auckland property world, having been bankrupted 3 times as a developer, and readily acknowledged this week that he was the wrong person to lead any campaign because of that history. But he has worked extensively on the ideas.
“I acknowledge my history could easily derail what seems to be a great idea,” he said. “At this stage we’re looking for people with experience & credibility to take ownership of it.
“To utilise this intensification potential around nodes, developers must pay an ATI levy based on the area of building constructed over & above the current baseline allowed. This levy is captured by the ATI public-private partnership fund. By mapping & predicting the growth over a conservative 40-year term, a strong & large yearly income stream can be established flowing from the partnership, which can then borrow & repay (via banking partnerships or issuing bonds) the funds necessary to fund the capital costs of a range of transport projects.
“The Auckland transport initiative is a solution that removes the burden of capital funding small, medium & largescale transport projects from the ratepayer, local & central government and allow transport projects to be constructed ahead of the demand curve. The ATI requires a flexible structure to allow borrowing against the future ATI levy stream to fund transport infrastructure projects needed. The final nature of the ATI fund can be structured as either a semi/specialised council-controlled organisation or public private partnership (PPP).”
Mr Chevin said it could avoid tolling for infrastructure projects, reduce the requirement for greenfield expansion, substantially increase the use of existing infrastructure and represented an efficiency gain of land resources.
“It requires bold visionary leadership & multi-partisan buy-in, and local & central government law changes.
“The ATI plan is rooted in modern urban design principles and creating mixtures of uses & activities that complement each other, whilst affording a better use of natural resources. These include nodal intensification, public transport as the arterial basis for travel, facilitating community via good urban design practices and open spaces provided by making more efficient use of household sites and reducing the need to expand the city endlessly. The ATI initiative additionally offers the potential for communities to travel less.
“Further, ATI adopts the strategy of ‘build it and they shall come’, as opposed to waiting for the demand then supplying a suitable service. ATI offers a future-proofing and building of capacity into a transport system that will then be able to cater for an increasing Auckland population. Auckland can finally get ahead of the demand curve. As opposed to the current solution of providing band-aid solutions that spend years being fought over by all stakeholders, the losers being the project and the public that use them.”
The unitary plan submission period closes on 28 February.
Attribution: proposal, interview.