The Auckland Plan and The Sydney Plan

Why The Auckland Plan Needs the Broom

A Mini Series


With the Auckland Plan up for its three yearly review and some Councillors looking at some more shall we say whole-scale changes to the master document I will be running a mini-series on why the Councillors should go the full hog, and both chuck the Auckland Plan in its entirety while writing an Auckland Plan MK2.

I will be drawing on my own experience and skills as a Geographer as well as material from the Sydney Plan on the rather critical matter/point that Sydney is our main competitor.

I can tell you right now that this mini-series will be controversial and no doubt will go and deeply annoy our Council’s Planning Department. But as I have said before:

I am not employed by Council nor am I their “friend” either. I am here to report and comment on the issues in an independent manner. That is the core mantra of Talking Auckland.


So to start the mini-series off we will do a bit of a recap before giving a ‘general’ comparison between the operative Auckland Plan and the incoming Sydney Plan. From there using the Sydney Plan outlay as a foundation I will draw up some basic concepts for the Auckland Plan MK2. Now it is to note that the Auckland Plan MK2 does not affect the Unitary Plan (much) but will affect subsequent Long Term Plans (master budget documents). The Southern Initiative effectively gets chucked (again) and redone to be reincorporated into the MK2 Auckland Plan.




Looking at the three new senior managers in place that would oversee this review, factored in that the last annual review on the Auckland Plan had stated that productivity in Auckland is slipping I am wondering if the bureaucracy is up to the actual task needed.

Because I have the very sick feeling in my gut it is not. What I call the warm and fuzzies that would be covered in “Economic, tourism, events and culture” (something I gutted in my Long Term Plan Budget calculator (see: BUDGET CALCULATOR – HOW WOULD YOU SET THE LONG TERM PLAN)) review rather well while “Transport” and “Auckland Development” will be shunted to the back page like the Cost of Growth Study out earlier this year.

Yet it is Auckland Development, and Transport that need to be extensively redressed in the Auckland Plan if we want to stop productivity slippage in the indicators. And to stop that slippage using the ‘spoke and hub’ approach dictated by our transit system would be better suited for Auckland and in the Auckland Plan than what the Plan currently has.

It is a reason why I say CHUCK the Auckland Plan entirely and start over. The problem the bureaucracy has too much “invested” in the Auckland Plan and hence the broom.


As a comparison I believe the Auckland Plan has four “sections” and 15 chapters to “guide” Auckland’s development through to 2042. All are generalistic and nothing apart from the City Centre (the Southern Initiative has fallen off the RADAR again) is place specific. Not when compared to the Sydney Plan that has four sections (plus the Vision at the beginning like the Auckland Plan does) which are all place specific (whether regional or local). Also the Sydney Plan is some 146 pages (embedded below) while the Auckland Plan is 380 pages plus addendum. So for to the point and less fluff I think Sydney wins that one….

There is technically a fifth section in the Sydney Plan called the “Sydney Subregions” where Sydney has been broken down into six subregions so that you can find out what is going out at a more localised level with the earlier four sections that cover everything at a regional level. The closest the Auckland Plan gets to that kind of detail is the ten Metropolitan Centres which are named but that is pretty much it. In other words pins on a map and that is it. Nothing tying back into the wider regional “stuff” so set out in the 15 chapters and four regional sections.


So indeed the Auckland Plan needs a broom if we are ever to have a master document to the same quality, level, and ease of understanding compared to our main competitor Sydney. Especially if again Sydney can deliver a concise place related and place making master plan at 146 pages and for 380 pages plus addendum all Auckland gets is generalistic fluff.

The Sydney Plan:


Full article:


So as noted above the Sydney Plan is some 146 pages with four main sections, the Subregional breakdown section, and lots of interactive maps. The Auckland Plan has four “sections,” 15 chapters, and no interactive maps but rather low resolution maps that are very hard to see on a computer screen. Not a good start now is it?


Right let’s take a look at some front pages starting with the Auckland Plan
Auckland Plan front page
Front Page to the Auckland Plan



Auckland Plan front page 2
The Beginning of the Auckland Plan



Auckland Plan front page contents
The Amount of Sections and Chapters in the Auckland Plan


In comparison to the Sydney Plan front pages
Sydney Plan Front Page
Sydney Plan Front Page


Sydney Plan Sections
Sydney Plan Sections

Already and this will be prevalent through out the mini-series you can see the Sydney Plan is simple, informative (for what you expect from “front pages”) and to the point being as efficient with words as possible. Another comparison of efficiency with words would be the difference between the Sydney Plan introduction at 504 words compared to the Mayor’s preamble in the introduction of the Auckland Plan being 809 words and not even outlining what the Auckland Plan does (that comes in Section A (and that alone has four subsections to it).


Next as a comparison and what will form the next part of the mini series is Sydney’s four main goals to compared to what the Auckland Plan attempts to lay out.

The Sydney Plan in delivering the vision (SYDNEY WILL BE A STRONG GLOBAL CITY, A GREAT PLACE TO LIVE) produced a plan that has four goals, a special section on Western Sydney (like the Auckland Plan’s Southern Initiative) and its delivery methodology for the plan. These four goals form the primary backbone to the Sydney Plan to which all things Geography, Transport, Land Use, Economics and Place-Making fall into place underneath those respective goal or goals. The four goals being:

  1. Goal 1: A competitive economy with world-class services and transport
  2. Goal 2: A city of housing choice, with homes that meet our needs and lifestyles
  3. Goal 3: A great place to live with communities that are strong, healthy and well connected
  4. Goal 4: A sustainable and resilient city that protects the natural environment and has a balanced approach to the use of land and resources
  5. Western Sydney – key to Sydney’s success
  6. Delivering this plan – a bold new direction

Source: (Under ‘Vision for Sydney’)


In comparison the Auckland Plan seems to have muddled itself in what it wants for its vision (The World’s Most Liveable City) and what goals it has in place to realise that actual vision. The closest we get is from Section D – AUCKLAND’S HIGH-LEVEL DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY in which everything else afterwards (the 15 chapters) do not seem to follow in any logical sense of order. That is they do not tie back into the four “strategies” of Chapter D in the way the chapters do under each respective Goal in the Sydney Plan.

So after another long ramble in the Section D Introduction the Auckland Plan gets down its four outlines that should be guiding the Auckland Plan to reach the vision of ‘The World’s Most Liveable City.’ Those four outlines are:



Those four outlines unlike the four Sydney Plan goals do not tell you straight away what one is trying achieve in that outline. What makes the Auckland Plan Development Strategy outline worse is when you dig into the text it again is a long ramble with no sense of logical order. It is not also clear by any simple means on how one places to execute that piece of the Auckland Plan Development Strategy.

Compared again to the Sydney Plan and this is what you get (in this example I picked Economics):


Our plan for a competitive economy with world-class services and transport

Sydney is Australia’s financial and economic capital.

Forty-five per cent of the top 500 Australian companies are based in NSW(1), and a major proportion of these are based in Sydney. This puts Sydney in the same league as other international cities − including cities in Asia − that compete as a destination for global capital.

Sydney drives around 70 per cent of New South Wales’ total economic output and over one-fifth of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP)(3). It ranks above Singapore and Hong Kong in terms of economic output(4).

Within a decade, our neighbours in Asia will account for around half of our global economic output, opening up opportunities for our industries and business. Efficient infrastructure, strong centres that attract investment, competitive international gateways, access to a deep pool of skilled labour, and a liveable city with high standards of living will allow Sydney to take advantage of this growth in Asia. These are the preconditions for innovation and increased productivity.

Capitalising on these opportunities will require good planning. Land use planning impacts on a city’s economic performance and is a factor influencing firms’ locational decisions on how easily they can move goods and services to market and access labour. Land use planning can help industries foster innovation and sustain economies of scale. It can also affect how efficiently infrastructure can be delivered.

A Plan for Growing Sydney is a plan to sustain strong growth for Sydney, improve its productivity and competitiveness, and foster higher living standards.

The Plan makes the intensive development of strategic locations across Sydney a priority, including the Sydney CBD, the Global Economic Corridor, Greater Parramatta and Sydney’s Gateways – the port and airports. Growth in these locations will sustain and expand the economy and support more jobs closer to where people live.

  1. Our plan for a competitive economy with world-class services and transport
  2. Direction 1.1: Grow a more internationally competitive Sydney CBD
  3. Direction 1.2: Grow Greater Parramatta – Sydney’s second CBD
  4. Direction 1.3: Establish a new Priority Growth Area– Greater Parramatta to the Olympic Peninsula
  5. Direction 1.4: Transform the productivity of Western Sydney through growth and investment
  6. Direction 1.5: Enhance capacity at Sydney’s gateways and freight networks
  7. Direction 1.6: Expand the Global Economic Corridor
  8. Direction 1.7: Grow strategic centres – providing more jobs closer to home
  9. Direction 1.8: Enhance linkages to regional NSW
  10. Direction 1.9: Support priority economic sectors
  11. Direction 1.10: Plan for education and health services to meet Sydney’s growing needs
  12. Direction 1.11: Deliver infrastructure

Source: (under “Competitive Economy)

Now each one of those directions in the Sydney Plan if clicked on expands and delivers a full high level run down including strategy of how that direction will be implemented in accordance with the main goal (in this case “Our plan for a competitive economy with world-class services and transport.”

For the Auckland Plan you would have to go through all 15 chapters to get the same level of information above in just one section of the Sydney Plan.


As I finish this first post off on the mini-series I leave you with this from the Sydney Plan on Parramatta – Sydney’s Second Central Business District. You will not find this level of detail for the Manukau City Centre Transformational Project (you actually won’t find it at all and it has slipped off Auckland Council’s RADAR entirely since they mentioned it back in 2012 when I pinged them on Manukau being our second CBD). In the next post for the mini-series I will look at the Auckland Plan’s High Level Development Strategy and how it can be rearranged into a more logical order like the Sydney Plan. Once that is done then again drawing on the Sydney Plan one can write-up the Auckland Plan MK2 without having to do an entire chuck of the current operative version (being generous after all).


The Sydney Plan – Competitive Economy – Developing Parramatta as Sydney’s Second CBD

  1. Direction 1.2: Grow Greater Parramatta – Sydney’s second CBD

    Greater Parramatta is Sydney’s western CBD. Located close to the demographic heart of the Sydney Metropolitan Area, its scale and mix of commercial, health and education facilities make it a centre – a CBD – of metropolitan significance.

    The 2011 Census revealed that Greater Parramatta is diversifying with growth in knowledge industries and increasing numbers of more highly qualified people working in Parramatta. Employees with a bachelor or higher degree increased by almost 26 per cent between the last two censuses.

    Greater Parramatta will continue to grow in significance to Sydney. This will require a critical mass of investment and greater diversity of activities in Greater Parramatta. As Greater Parramatta attracts more jobs there will be further incentive for other firms to move to the area.

    The new University of Western Sydney campus tower, situated in the core of Parramatta’s CBD is forecast to be home to over 10,000 students in 2017(12). This will increase the diversity of activities and enhance the social and economic prosperity of Parramatta.

    The core elements for growing Greater Parramatta include:

    • integrating the precincts within Greater Parramatta and connecting the centre to the wider community and other centres through the proposed Parramatta Light Rail initiative;
    • continuing to grow the commercial core as the central focus of business activity; and
    • encouraging growth across a range of employment types.

    To fulfil its role, Parramatta also needs expanded arts, culture and entertainment activities to increase its appeal as a dynamic and diverse place to work, live and play. Development of a Parramatta arts and cultural precinct is addressed in Action 3.4.2 in Goal 3.


    ACTION 1.2.1: Grow Parramatta as Sydney’s second CBD by connecting and integrating Parramatta CBD, Westmead, Parramatta North, Rydalmere and Camellia

    Greater Parramatta has the potential to reach 100,000 jobs over the next 20 years(13). The Government will work with Parramatta City Council to build an expanded Greater Parramatta by incorporating Westmead, Parramatta North, Rydalmere and Camellia.

    The Government will work with Parramatta City Council to:

    • grow Greater Parramatta by connecting and integrating the precincts which provide jobs, goods and services including Parramatta CBD, Westmead, Rydalmere, Parramatta North and Camellia with the existing commercial core.



    ACTION 1.2.2: Grow the specialised health and education precincts at Westmead and Rydalmere

    Westmead Health Precinct is Sydney’s most significant concentration of biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical device companies. These companies are well located to access Western Sydney’s growing population and labour force. Investment in the precinct will support jobs growth and recognise the important health contribution the precinct makes to Sydney.

    Opportunities to grow knowledge jobs by building on the strengths of the University of Western Sydney at Rydalmere will make a valuable contribution to Greater Parramatta’s diversity and strengths.



    The Government will:

    • expand and build on the existing strengths of the Westmead Health Precinct by improving public spaces and renewing the precinct;
    • encourage higher education facilities to develop Rydalmere as Western Sydney’s premier university precinct;
    • facilitate improved public transport, cycling and walking connections between Westmead and Rydalmere through the Parramatta CBD,
    • investigate improved connections to Macquarie Park, and investigate options to enhance a Parramatta City Ring Road; and
    • grow knowledge jobs in Western Sydney and encourage innovation by investigating the potential for a new business park.

    Initial investigations for the business park will focus on the NSW Government’s land near the University of Western Sydney at Rydalmere and the proposed Parramatta Light Rail.


    ACTION 1.2.3: Renew Parramatta North to create a vibrant mixed-use precinct

    UrbanGrowth NSW has been directed by the Government to transform and revitalise a precinct which is home to some of the State’s and indeed Australia’s most-important heritage locations and assets, including Australia’s first farm and water mill, Parramatta Female Factory and the Old King’s School. The 146 hectare parcel of Government-owned land on the banks of the Parramatta River – the Parramatta North Heritage Precinct – will be a focus for urban renewal.

    UrbanGrowth NSW will:

    • deliver around 6,000 new homes and 2,000 new jobs as part of the transformation of the precinct;
    • examine opportunities to adaptively re-use the heritage buildings for potential community, cultural and commercial uses; and
    • upgrade parkland and open space, and restore the Parramatta riverbank and create a river walk towards Lake Parramatta.



Source: (under “Competitive Economy)