Developing a 21st Century Auckland Presentation – The Results

A Good Day

And the Mayor Got Broadsided as well (not intentionally – well maybe in the end)


An excerpt from Bob Dey’s Property Report Blog post that was published yesterday:

Bob Dey who writes The Property Report blog had this to say on The Southern Initiative and the presentation yesterday:

Blogger presents to council, and council listens

Sometimes submitters to Auckland Council do get noticed for attention to detail and suggestions on how to improve the region.

After Talking Auckland blog writer Ben Ross gave a presentation to the council’s new Auckland development committee this morning on developing a 21st-century Auckland, Committee members not only asked questions but started basing thoughts on change preferences on his ideas.

And when Cllr George Wood suggested a committee workshop for politicians & relevant senior staff, deputy mayor & committee chairwoman Penny Hulse started looking at how to make the most of it.

That was after Mr Ross presented a number of ideas proposing quite different plans for central Manukau and mocked the council’s performance so far on one of mayor Len Brown’s favourite projects, the Southern Initiative – a multi-pronged project to lift South Auckland in all ways.

That criticism was effectively supported soon after in an annual implementation update for the Auckland Plan which had, as one of the areas to improve in 2014, ensuring resources are allocated to priority areas – such as the Southern Initiative.


Presentation and Council both Listened and were Focused

Yesterday I gave my presentation on how to develop a 21st Century Auckland. In the time given (plus questions) I covered three aspects of developing this 21st Century Auckland, those aspects being:

1.Introduction and laying down the challenge on Area Plans
2.Looking at Developing a 21st Century Auckland
3.Redeveloping Manukau for the 21st Century

Once All About Auckland has the video link up of the presentation and the subsequent questions I will link here into this post.

Edit: Okay that won’t be happening but the resolutions have come up (still to be confirmed at the next meeting). The resolutions being:

Public Input

5.1 Ben Ross
Resolution number AUC/2013/2
MOVED by Deputy Chairperson P Hulse, seconded by Cr L Cooper:
That the Auckland Development Committee:

  • a) grant Ben Ross an extension of 10mins (15 minutes total) to complete their address to the Auckland Development Committee.


Cr J Watson joined to the meeting at 9:59 am.
A presentation was given in support of the item.
A copy of the presentation is attached to the official copy of these minutes and is
available on the Auckland Council website.
Minutes Page 4

Resolution number AUC/2013/3
MOVED by Deputy Chairperson C Darby, seconded by Cr WD Walker:
That the Auckland Development Committee:

  • b) receive the presentation from Mr Ben Ross and thank him for his attendance at the Auckland Development Committee.

Resolution number AUC/2013/4
MOVED by Cr GS Wood, seconded by Cr WB Cashmore:
That the Auckland Development Committee:

  • c) organise a site visit of the Manukau City Centre to understand the layout of the area.


A Presentation
B Booklet
C Concept Drawings
6 Local Board Input
There was no local board input.

Note from the resolutions owing to Infrastructure Committee today:

I will be kicking the emails out soon as well as undertake an investigation to two situations:

  1. When is the Site Visit to Manukau (as it seems it will be tying up with the East-West Link site visit as well) as well as a Workshop when and where
  2. Relook at the mega-region concept mentioned in the Too Many Restrictions, Not Enough Progress – in The Unitary Plan post as well as else where from an earlier Manukau presentation May. I mention this as it seems what was mentioned with the Deputy Mayor in May around this and the fact it moves Manukau and Albany into more pivotal roles is becoming more of a reality over the next 40 years. It also means I need to keep all this in the back of my mind when working on the Manukau 21st Century Development Concepts… 


The presentation though went extremely well and would lay the land down for two later presentations from Council managers and officers on the Auckland Plan and ‘City Transformation and Urban Design Program.’ Those two particular presentations I did not read up on advance nor tie the presentation into.

As my presentation was focused on the context of Area Plans (this is including Manukau) the questions from the Councillors would be focused in around that.

Councillor Chris Darby asked me about three things that Council could do to allow a healthy culture change when it comes to engagement with the public (on such matters as Area Plans). I replied with the following:

  1. Expand the Civic Forums we had with the Unitary Plan before the Unitary Plan came out. Yes have your selected stakeholders (as I was) invited to a forum to have an all day pow-wow in a matter like the Unitary Plan, but also have town hall type meetings throughout the week. At these meetings the planners, Local Boards and Councillors just sit there and listen. The members of the community speak, engage, debate and discuss on what they would like to see. The council says nothing as that puts ideas into peoples’ heads and that we do not want. After this engagement then more specific engagement can begin and some rough MK 1 draft plans can come out for further discussion.
  2. Maintain engagement and remember its a dialogue not a monologue with the community. You must maintain that engagement even if it is a single A4 page update showing what work is being progressed on a plan or project. If you don’t then people understandably run off to Bernard Orsman (yes I said that) and the issue lands on the front page of the Herald. Once that happens Council has lost the debate automatically (and it takes considerable time to try to resteer the debate (if I choose to do so)).
  3. Engagement and maintain engagement RIGHT ACROSS the realms of both traditional and social media. This is where I fired a broadside against the Mayor (who was present) in using The Southern Initiative as an example. I said to the mayor directly you had an office opening for the Southern Initiative in Manukau but there was: no press release, no media representatives present, no dedicated web page, no Facebook page, no glossy magazine or brochure and no Twitter handle. I was pulled in by the Deputy Mayor after that but you could hear the room go “ouch” after the rant.


Councillors Wood and (Wayne) Walker focused their questions in around Manukau and the concept drawings I had presented. The basic arguments/questions were two-fold:

  1. We need alternatives to what AT and the Council planners are putting forward potentially lock Council and the city in. Effectively I gave the Lot 59 concept plans by AT (the Manukau Bus Interchange) an absolute vote of no confidence yesterday in the presentation. I put forward my own alternative to which the Auckland Design Committee as well as the Council Built Environment Unit (the urban designers) are keen to explore. I would be at a guess that despite in the Auckland Plan Implementation update presentation given later by officers which had included Lot 59 and how (apparently) consultation was done (which it was not wide enough), the Committee was not displaying confidence in what AT had drawn up thus far. I’ll give the results of that situation further down
  2. Lack of cohesion in the plans and lack of action as well. This would spawn off two separate consequences:
    1. Intense focus on Manukau from the Councillors (and Albany who are facing similar issues after the Upper Harbour Local Board presented on Albany and a private plan change happening there) when Ludo Campbell-Reid and his urban design team presented on the City Transformation and Urban Design Program. Brent Toderian’s presentation as I referenced it in my own presentation became compulsory viewing for the rest of the Council as well.
    2. A surprising resolution that got voted unanimously for after forwarded by Councillor Wood. This resolution would be the catalyst into the intense focus on Ludo’s presentation that came straight after mine


After the presentation and resolution, thanks were given all round and I gave my thanks back. I went back to the media table while Ludo and his team (followed later by Planning Manager Penny Pirrit) were up presenting and taking some intense questions (more on that soon).

Ms Pirrit would tell the Committee that the Area Plan and Town Centre Plan Timetable Program would be forwarded to the Committee (and the City) in February next year. Ms Pirrit after some intense questioning from the Committee (especially around Manukau) stated that the Area Plan and Town Centre Plan Timetable Program would be seeking political direction from the Auckland Development Committee on what and who goes first. The Committee was implying rather strongly that Manukau and Albany be first up – in line with what I had called for in my presentation  just given earlier. A case of watch this space in February.

MCC Concept Redevelopment drawing - base photo
MCC Concept Redevelopment drawing – base photo

Manukau, the Success, and the Future

As mentioned above my presentation had laid down the land (not intentionally but rather as a product of circumstance) on the line of questions for Ludo’s City Transformation and Urban Design Program presentation. That presentation (or rather the agenda item) is Item 9 on the Auckland Development Committee Agenda and starts from Page 7.

I am going to have to listen to the video link again so that I can write up a full blog post on it and what came out of it. However, in this post I will look at the intense focus around Manukau from the Committee and the results it had.

Lot 59 in Manukau was mentioned by Ludo’s team who were effectively on the defensive about it (when you mention public consultation extensively – even though it was extremely confined, you know there are underlying issues) after I had written it off entirely and requested to restart the project again. The Committee focused in on Lot 59 and were not giving confidence in what AT (as they are leading the work) had drawn up and presented in May earlier this year (see Transport Blog’s Manukau bus interchange details emerge for reaction and negative response towards the concept).

Questioning towards Ludo’s team to which Ms Pirrit also got involved (hence the Area Plan and Town Centre Plan Program Timetable coming out in February) around Lot 59 widened to the matter of “Is there a Grand Master Plan for Manukau (like the City Centre Master Plan that is operative).

The simple answer from Ms Pirrit was “no.” There are plans like Lot 59 and Hayman Park South that recognise what each of the other is doing but there is no grand master plan (as Councillor Wood was quizzing on). This is how the announcement then came out about the Area and Town Centre Plan timetable next year with Ms Pirrit asking for political direction in February when the timetable is out on where and what to start first.


The surprise resolution from Councillor Wood also comes into play here. Normally when a presentation is given the standard motion of “receiving the presentation and giving thanks” is moved and passed. However, Councillor Wood moved a second motion that got voted on without opposition. The resolution was “that a site visit be conducted by the Councillors (and most likely some planners and urban designers) to Manukau and that the area be explored on the site visit (I will get the final wording once the Minutes are up).” So we have the Auckland Council coming down for a visit to Manukau in the very near future 😛 . That resolution also spawned off a second outcome (which will need some clarification on) in that a Workshop on Manukau is to be established rather soon. Meaning we could see some dedicated attention heading Manukau’s way to the point it could be handling any Master Plans (Area and/or Town Centre Plan(s)) once those get under way.

In the end we will need to see what the Council and Officers get up to in handling the site visit resolution and subsequent workshop.

I am also thinking to myself wondering how much work the Built Environment Unit just picked up after the two presentations yesterday. Going to be an interesting few months coming up on this. This also might be also a good time to have a very long sit down with the BEU and thrash out Manukau in much more greater detail before the Committee gets cranky (which they seemed to be on the lack of action in some parts (cue a third presentation where The Southern Initiative got effectively lampooned by Council’s own officers)).

I say that was an effective and successful day in Town Hall yesterday, we just need to keep the momentum going now.


My thanks to Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse – chairwoman of the Auckland Development Committee for allowing me to give the presentation (I think the Mayor might have been “woken up” with the Southern Initiative after that double broadside occurred.). My thanks also to the Auckland Development Committee for receiving the presentation and also thanks for the focused and intense questioning. Not only on my presentation but the subsequent ones as well. I believe the Councillors are getting cranky with perceived levels of inaction and want to see more action done – PROPERLY. As I just mentioned I say they want to see more action and proper action at that. They are also wanting wide range of alternatives to what the officers (and CCO’s) present and these to be tested before a final decision is made.


Some of the Manukau Concept Work (including photos, and slides from the Brent Toderian Presentation)

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The ADC Agenda


The Developing 21st Century Auckland Presentation Booklet


The Minutes of the November Auckland Development Committee