There are 2 reasons to create an urban development authority: To steamroll, and to fund.
And there are 2 ways of looking at steamrolling: It can smooth the path, or it can override opposition.
Auckland Council already has its own development authority, Panuku, which has embarked on a major regeneration programme around the region, but it lacks the financial strength that Government backing would provide.
The council is close to its prudential debt limits and Panuku would not be able to carry out its ambitious regeneration programme at the speed it & the Government would like without entering some new financial arrangement.
Funding has been on the council agenda for the whole of the super-city’s first 6 years but always, when I’ve asked about progress, I’ve been greeted with blank stares. That was until a new style of negotiation was introduced last year to bring the Government into partnership with the council on the city rail link and the transport alignment project – as partners instead of protagonists.
Building, Construction & Environment Minister Nick Smith (pictured above) is a steamroll kind of person, as his approach to the Auckland housing accord and development of special housing areas has demonstrated.
If the council didn’t speed up its processes, the Government would take over the job itself, he said. Along the way, with that approach, quality has a good chance of being bypassed and development becomes a carpetlaying exercise.
The urban development authority concept as presented promises more partnership, though that’s not guaranteed.
The discussion document, issued by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, recognises limitations for both central & local government: “Central government entities have limited statutory powers to finance & fund infrastructure for urban development. At present, these powers primarily relate to roads, land transport, schools, prisons, hospitals & reserves.
“In contrast, local government has a wide range of powers to finance & fund infrastructure, including powers to tax land & property. Many territorial authorities in New Zealand charge targeted rates to homeowners & businesses to pay for specific services provided to their communities.
“However, their limited capacity to carry additional debt can create significant constraints on funding infrastructure upgrades & expansion. Additionally, there can be no certainty that a territorial authority would be willing to support a development project with additional funding to provide infrastructure.”
MBIE 14 February 2017: Urban development authorities, draft discussion document
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 story today:
Consultation opens on urban development authorities
22 August 2016: Productivity Commission urban planning report blunt, measured & perceptive
Commission sees government change as essential for urban planning
Commission says everything English wanted on planning
13 July 2016: Deal on supermarket land opens way for Old Papatoetoe mall revamp
27 June 2016: Institute suggests competing urban development authorities
16 May 2016: Council & Government join forces to redevelop Northcote land
9 March 2016: Takapuna & Northcote first up for revitalisation
6 December 2015: How Panuku proposes to lead transformation of Auckland
4 December 2015: Manukau & Onehunga earmarked for transformation
28 November 2014: Slim council majorities say no to caps & funding referendum, urban development authority supported
20 June 2014: Council property company’s greater development role approved – but it won’t be a development company
18 June 2014: Council property arm proposes expanded housing & regeneration roles
25 July 2012: Government & council agree to form Tamaki urban redevelopment company
Attribution: Discussion document, ministerial release.