Auckland (and NZ) Can Not Afford More Sprawl

Government needs to get a serious clue (and so does the Opposition)

I have seen the articles and radio interviews this morning about Auckland Council turning down three Greenfield Special Housing Areas in north-west Auckland. Those three SHA’s (as they are known by) were rejected in a closed session of the Auckland Development Committee with the reason being Council (thus the ratepayer) can simply not afford the new infrastructure costs for those Greenfield Special Housing Areas.

Of course our one-dimensional Government does have the power to override the Council and force the Special Housing Areas that the Council rejected. That said good luck to the Government telling its supporters that Rates would have to go up even further than now to pay for the new infrastructure the Government is failing to provide support for.

From Radio NZ:

Council defends housing area refusal

Updated 4 minutes ago

Auckland deputy mayor Penny Hulse is defending the council’s decision to reject three special housing areas proposed for the city’s rural north-west under the Auckland Housing Accord.

The council maintains that before there is any further growth in the rural area the Government needs to commit to much-needed transport infrastructure.

The government-driven accord with the council is half-way through its three year life. It has the goal of accelerating home building and creating new residential sections.

The rejection of the three special housing areas is the first manifestation of growing tension between the accord partners over the burden on ratepayers of providing services to large rural housing developments.

Listen to Penny Hulse on Morning Report ( 3 min 40 sec )

Ms Hulse chairs the council’s development committee and told Morning Report that with the Government cool on council ideas such as motorway charges and a transport levy, it needs to help build projects such as a dedicated busway on the Northwestern motorway.

“It’s quite appropriate for us on council’s behalf to stand our corner and our ground for the people of Auckland,” she said. The refusal did not mean future growth would never be allowed.

The Building and Housing Minister admits there is “argy-bargy” between government and council on who should pay for transport projects associated with the special housing areas.

Nick Smith told Morning Report the city was already getting more than a third of the nation’s expenditure on transport infrastructure and it wanted more. And he said for every 300 new sections the council received another $1 million a year in rates.

Listen to Nick Smith on Morning Report ( 5 min 29 sec )


Full article and source:

The north-west of Auckland is the last place that should be getting any significant Special Housing Areas compared to other areas of Auckland. The north-west transport infrastructure is already bad with the North Western Motorway congested (and still will be after Waterview is complete in 2017) and no Bus-Way on the cards for the next ten years to assist. Employment wise there is nothing out that way in any substantial amounts even with the Westgate Metropolitan Centre under construction. By substantial I mean large heavy industrial complexes seen in Southern Auckland. With out those complexes near by the full array of jobs needed for such a diverse population is simply not there thus people (as they do from West Auckland) will commute to the City Centre and south to the complexes.

If the Government was serious about housing it would do two things:

  1. Through an Order In Council over ride the residential zones on the Auckland Isthmus and make the minimum zoning Mixed Housing Urban. No Mixed Housing Suburban or Single House Zone should be seen anywhere on the Isthmus. This alone would assist in satisfying the demand on the Isthmus by giving freer reign on actual housing choices needed in the area
  2. Providing transport infrastructure funding (which it is even dragging on there – even Cameron Brewer thinks so now with the City Rail Link) is not enough. So at a pure minimum the Government should be shelling out 33% of ALL infrastructure costs. That means roads, rail, buses, libraries, parks, pipes – the lot if it so wants housing supply sped up especially in any Greenfield areas. If Australia State Governments do this (Tory and Labor) then so can this lethargic Government.

As a quick comparison Southern Auckland can take the brunt of Greenfield development but only because of existing motorways, rail lines, and the existence of Manukau, and the big industrial complexes including Drury South which is coming on stream. However, do not let that be an excuse for Government to shirk its responsibilities.

Finally why did I mention the Opposition in the title? Because they have nothing solid in alternative either…

9 thoughts on “Auckland (and NZ) Can Not Afford More Sprawl

  1. I note that the opposition has 2 1/2 years to develop a solid alternative. Pretty pointless to be asking them for solutions when we have a government that continues to implement policy and legislation in the face of public opinion. Only need to look at the road chaos around Bruce Pullman Park on Saturdays and weekdays at school times to gauge the inadequate infrastructure planning in terms of roading. And anyone who points at the Commercial Development in Hunua Rd Papakura wants to try driving through Settlement Rd to the Motorway at any time of the day. Central Government has bled Auckland road users for years with general levies and taxes that go into the consolidated fund. There has been no long term future planning at all. It’s the transportation issues that need sorting 1st! For example, I’m hearing that trains in South Auckland are running close to capacity at peak times? Doesn’t bode well for future growth does it? Then they talk about turning Mill Rd into an expressway? Again, try transiting traffic islands at the Clevedon Rd and Marne Rd intersections, the CURRENT traffic flow resulting from Mill Rd users effectively stops those intersections operating as traffic islands. And that’s before they try and funnel even more down this route? Central Government needs to man up and get this ‘keep building motorways’ syndrome out of it’s head, they are there to Govern, that’s their job!

  2. Developers of greenfield land can choose to fund all infrastructure costs if they have the budget and Watercare do not.

    Regarding community infrastructure, Charles Montgomery, author of ‘Happy City’ makes a good case about the need for greenfield developments to include local parks, parks that are not greater in size than 2,000m2 to 4,000m2 in size. He argues that larger parks are in fact unhealthier for us. His book is worth a read if you haven’t read it

  3. This is simply not true and assumes that Council funds all infrastructure when the majority of new infrastructure costs are covered by the developer. Further, this also assumes that people living in these areas need to travel to the city to work and play. Quality urban design should include master plans that provide opportunities for persons to live and play in the same region. Where developments have failed in the past is that they have not provided commercial opportunities and opportunities for residents to remain in a local area both for work and play. When designing master plans for greenfield development, we need to be a bit more clever about the types of uses and zones being created, the number of parks being provided and the types of localised public transport systems being offered so that these communities can function sustainably and independently without having to rely on the city.

    1. Social Infrastructure is not covered by the developer as the Government removed that recently in an Amendment Bill. So for that it comes directly from the general fund of the Ratepayers.

      Also Watercare costs are only covered 33% by the developer last I looked as well based on the price of a new connection for fresh water.

      Yes planning should be more response to work, play and live in the same sub region but with West Auckland that is not happening. In comparison to the South it is owing to the industrial complexes, Manukau, and soon Drury South (which means the South can work, play and live locally).

      And yes we need to be more clever with zone layout as well to facilitate what you have mentioned.

    2. Agree, design is the key. Design neighbourhoods not just houses. Re the development contributions community infrastructure still includes local playgrounds and community halls and centres. But it doesn’t appear local funds will go to local community centres it appears the Development contributions will go almost entirely to the new big projects like Hobsonville/ North West. And it’s really important that they don’t take industry (ie Film Industry) off existing communities (Henderson) to fulfill obligations to new developments as appears to have happened in West Auckland.
      “What’s changed? Community infrastructure (section 197)
      • The definition of “community infrastructure” has been repealed and replaced by a narrower definition that limits community infrastructure to:
      o community centres or halls for the use of a local community or neighbourhood, and the land on which they are or will be situated;
      o play equipment that is located on a neighbourhood reserve; and
      o toilets for use by the public.”

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