North Shore wants both pushes blocked
Without question, the year-old regional growth strategy has been put in place far more quickly by the Auckland region’s southern councils, despite Papakura being hampered by political turmoil.
In the west, Waitakere City Council wants to shift the metropolitan urban limit to turn 80ha in the Babich Rd area from rural (horticulture, vines) into urban-zoned land.
In the north, North Shore City councillors turned a jaundiced set of eyes on these notions yesterday.
Papakura’s mayor resigned and has been replaced, infighting on the council has carried on unabated, yet it is Papakura that has got all its structure plans either implemented or at an advanced stage. These include plans for the greenfields Hingaia Peninsula, which will be turned from rural uses, including exclusive 1ha horticultural blocks, to a mixture retaining those blocks but adding several thousand new residents living in a variety of housing styles.
Regulated growth the aim
The regional growth forum was set up in 1996 as an exercise in planning the region’s growth, and principally to contain population growth within existing metropolitan urban limits (MULs).
Most people wouldn’t recognise an MUL if they drove over one, but in planning terms these lines on the map are sacrosanct. Regional planners are intent on containing the bulk of Auckland’s residential growth over the next 50 years within these limits.
I believe they will provide a healthy exercise in pricing arbitrage as developers dream up ways of breaching the MULs, local body planners fight to stop them, the whole issue grinds slowly through the court process and the key requirement of splitting Auckland into stand-alone segments or robust satellites is ignored, in deference to the belief that downtown Auckland must remain of central importance.
The southern sector agreement (put together by Manukau City Council and Papakura District Council, with some Franklin District urban land also in the equation) and the Babich Rd issue will come before the regional growth forum this afternoon.
Precedent a worry, says Shore
North Shore’s regional growth strategy project manager, Giles Hughes, found that while the southern sector agreement and Babich proposal did not appear to affect North Shore directly, “they do raise important issues of principle. Decisions on these matters could set precedents that may potentially impact on North Shore City.”
Councillors on North Shore’s strategy & finance committee voted yesterday to support staged approval of southern development, “with a review by the regional growth forum to confirm remaining capacity for the 20-year period when all sector agreements have been prepared.”
Papakura has been working towards early development of Hingaia, which would give landowners greater certainty of their properties’ futures and give the small district a greater population base for development of a stronger rural/urban community. The regional council wants this greenfields development delayed, or at least slowed.
Waitakere City has grown spectacularly back of the old Henderson town centre, and the council wants that growth to continue. Sturges Rd has been a centre for development; keep walking through the paddocks on the north side of the road and you arrive at Babich Rd.
Distortions would result, Shore argues
North Shore’s councillors agreed this proposal should go through the sector agreement process rather than win immediate support. Mr Hughes told them that trying to change MULs outside the sector agreement process could set a precedent for other councils and landowners to follow. As all these sector agreements are to be completed by November 2001, the delay would be for only one year.
Mr Hughes said the southern push could distort the rate of development between greenfields and other growth methods (brownfields, or redevelopment of existing non-residentially zoned land, infill and higher density). It could affect support for public transport, rail-based transport, wastewater and water supply. “The South getting in first could limit opportunities in Waitakere or Auckland City,” Mr Hughes said.