Behind the Scenes of the Auckland Development Office #AKLPols

What is the Auckland Development Office?

Council’s Chief Reporting Officer replies

Earlier in the month Auckland Council announced that the Housing Project Office and the City Transformational Unit would merge into this new office called the Auckland Development Office.

I sent some questions to Council to flesh out more on this office and its differences with the Development Auckland Council Controlled Organisation (CCO).

This is what Chief Operating Office Dean Kimpton had to say on the establishment of the Auckland Development Office.

The difference between Development Auckland and the Development Program Office in their roles and executions of various plans Council has or is in the middle of working through such as the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan

As Auckland Council repositions itself to further support growth, urban regeneration and “brownfield” redevelopment outcomes in Auckland, two major initiatives have been implemented.

Panuku Development Auckland (PDA) is a new council controlled organisation, building on the legacy of Waterfront Development Agency and Auckland Council Property Ltd. It’s focus is redevelopment of land council owns or predominantly influences in partnership with others. In partnership it will develop the vision and engage others to implement and support embedding the redevelopment objectives. In effect Panuku Development Auckland is the platform by which we take the lessons learnt from Waterfront Auckland and apply them to a limited number of other carefully selected locations in other parts of Auckland, and at scale.  It will also have a range of other, less comprehensive, development projects around the region. These leverage surplus council property and help progress the Council’s housing and town centre regeneration objectives.

The proposed Development Programme Office (DPO) will have two objectives. It will be a programme office working as a coordination point with private and public sector developers on complex development or infrastructure projects. When agreed, it will assist in the programme management / coordination of the council family response, ensuring we support delivery at pace and with quality. It will build on the work of the Housing Project Office (HPO) and City Transformation Projects unit, with the addition of new roles to reflect the programme office focus.

The DPO will also provide operational strategy and planning of infrastructure delivery, and map this against Auckland’s growth and infrastructure constraints. Getting this right enables more efficient and effective investment, both public and private.

We see the Development Programme Office and Panuku Development Auckland working together very positively and there will be times when the DPO supports PDA, as it will other CCO’s, crown entities and the private sector.

What were the projects the City Transformational Unit over seeing?

The City Transformation Projects unit has had responsibility for a substantial capital budget for the council and some of the projects it has led include Hobsonville Point, Hobsonville Corridor, Westgate, New Lynn and Flat Bush. In addition it has been responsible for the design, procurement and delivery of the City Centre Shared Spaces such as Elliott Street, O’Connell Street, Federal Street and Fort Street.

The proposed Development Programme Office allows for a continuation of these projects and others of a similar nature, but within a new programme model that links infrastructure investment to meet population growth and development needs and allows for more effective planning and project management to deliver the required outcome.

How would Council rate the success of the projects the City Transformational Unit was overseeing

The City Transformation Projects unit has had a number of significant successes over the last 5 years since it was first established and the above mentioned projects are evidence of this. The success of the unit lies in its ability to ensure collaboration with council CCO’s, other infrastructure providers and developers in implementing a strategy to deliver development.

More specifically on Shared Spaces, these have been a great success in ensuring the vibrancy of the city centre. For instance, an independent survey conducted on the Fort Street Shared Space found that after completion of the project there was a 50% increase in pedestrian traffic, a 429% increase in hospitality spending and a 47% increase in consumer spending.

What are the goals for the first 12 months of the Development Program Office’s existence 

The proposal to create a Development Programme Office (DPO) was announced to staff last week and we are now entering a phase of staff consultation, to conclude 24 September, followed by a thorough consideration of staff feedback.

Subject to the addition of that feedback, the focus of the DPO over the first 12 months will be:

  • Establishment of this new business unit, including enhanced programme management and forward land and infrastructure planning and budget tools, and a specialist commercial agreements unit
  • Quickly incorporate the Housing Project Office (HPO) and City Transformation Projects teams
  • Ensure continued delivery of our obligations under HASHA legislation, and support for at-pace development within Special Housing Areas (SHA’s), of which we have 97 so far.
  • Incorporate the work of the City Transformation Projects unit and ensure business as usual continuation of projects and service level agreements.
  • For complex or significant developments, improve the developer experience in working with the council family, and simplify our approach

On continuation of the work of the HPO:

In the Housing Project Office (HPO), established October 2013, we built a different model, business processes and delivery culture with a view to lift customer service, speed up delivery, and meet Housing Accord and HASHA legislation obligations, particularly an increase in land and housing supply. The model was also designed to positively inform a wider programme of review and improvement within regulatory services. To this end the HPO has been successful and has positively influenced core business.

The HPO is scheduled to conclude activities in September 2016. As we enter into the remaining 12 months of the HPO considerable thought has gone into:

  • transition of HPO into core business,
  • embedding of HPO model ‘lessons learnt’ into core business, and
  • further increasing customer service in support of housing supply, regulatory approvals, and delivery of development and infrastructure outcomes in Auckland.

The long term sustainable purposes of the HPO are provided for by transition into the Development Programme Office (DPO).

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My thanks to Dean Kimpton for his answers to the questions sent. As I have said earlier on this term of Council is meant to kick-start the City Building Phase after the City Planning Phase in its previous first term. That said once the Unitary Plan goes live next year things should start accelerating as well.

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