After residents had their turn last Monday, and associations and some lobbyists last Friday, Big Business yesterday had their turn to view their apparent displeasure at the Auckland Council Draft Long Term Plan.
Granted are their concerns that any rates rise hitting double figures would hit them rather hard and have nasty flow on effects to workers and possibly consumers downstream. But in Westfield’s case I am wondering are they shrilling due to them being an inefficient business with an inefficient business model. All that land tied up in free parking (to which is also Auckland Council’s Planning Department’s fault as well) most cost them a small dime as part of their rates bill. I do wonder if Westfield should be a little more proactive and either start charging consumers for a car park (for two hours is free with shop receipt then $2 an hour after that) to recover costs AND work with Council in improving Mass Transit Links. I do hear the Sylvia Park Rail Station that serves the AMP shopping complex does pay dividends to AMP through increased patronage outreach. I also do wonder if Westfield have over saturated Auckland with sterile carbon copy malls and need to “rationalise” for a while until we (Auckland) hit 2 million people or the economy takes off again. So if I have little sympathy for Westfield, well yeah I just do so am ignoring them with their contribution.
However The Warehouse and Progressive Enterprises have a valid point with Development Contributions:
Brady Nixon, Progressive Enterprises’ development manager, said the supermarket business planned to spend $200 million, making it the country’s single largest real estate developer. Yet it faced untenable increases which would hit projects such as Ponsonby’s Soho.
“Auckland is competing with other New Zealand cities for a limited pool of investment. High development contributions will affect the viability of development in Auckland.
“Progressive has to consider development costs, rates and return on its investment when choosing to invest. The council is making investment in the city more difficult,” Nixon complained.
Westfield and Progressive made a joint submission, headed by Russell McVeagh lawyer James Gardner-Hopkins.
The Warehouse complained about rising development contributions.
Development contributions being a “fee” developers get charged by Council in order for infrastructure like water and roads to be “supplied.” Development Contributions are set by Council and not only a blunt instrument but also can drive the cost of a said development which does have effects on the average consumer and ratepayer like me…
Now I hear those businesses concerns on Development Contributions being literally more of a pain in the ass than being helpful. I do however have an alternative that would assist business, developers and the ratepayer (too) through a scheme called Municipal Utility Districts that is used in the USA to help fund infrastructure. I am working on a post about MUD’s and will post it soon in VOAKL. I also raised MUD’s to Auckland Council at the LTP Forum last week to which Council officers would go and investigate. I might also pitch MUDs in front of Auckland Council next month or early June!
So alternatives are needed to expand Council’s revenue pool (while costs at the same time are brought back under control), we wait and see if Cameron Brewer and the Citizens and Ratepayers group can come up with some. As I said earlier I will be running a post on MUD’s either today or tomorrow.
However just a note to Big Businesses
“It is not appropriate that business ratepayers subsidise residential ratepayers, which is the effect of the proposed rating system,” its submission said.
The feeling is actually the reverse from a resident’s point of view, especially when those Development Contributions do not actually recover the full cost of infrastructure provision and we residents get slugged with it later on! So Big Business – you got an alternative? I have…