If we understand the evolution of the suburb it would help us “plan” for new suburbs as we grow
With Auckland undergoing significant population growth and unfettered urban sprawl unacceptable environmentally (social and physical) we as a City must get smarter on our urban planning as Auckland continues to grow.
The catch is how do we cater for this growth in an effective, efficient and yet sustainable manner? The answer lies in our existing suburban areas of Auckland. If we understand the evolution of the suburb through recent history (from 1850’s through until now) it is theorised that understanding the evolution will help us plan through the future as we grow.
That is the key crux from the book Suburban Urbanites that I am currently reading through the Summer 15/16 season. Suburban development will always occur even if the urban centre (the central) City Centre is under going (re)development as well. Auckland is not unique to this situation as both the City Centre and the urban fringe continue rapid developments. But the key to better planning with our suburbs is understanding the relationships and the evolution of the suburbs if we are to plan for the 21st Century. This is especially if we are to mitigate the worst of competing land use issues on the urban fringe as noted below:
The constant argument (and Auckland is having it with the Unitary Plan at the moment) is do we contain the urban footprint through Rural Urban Boundaries or do we go for unfettered sprawl no matter the cost. Southern Auckland especially the Franklin District (so Pukekohe) is an area facing competing pressures as we try to juggle the land usage between our elite soils used for food production and that of industrial and/or residential urban expansion.
Furthermore as the above text from Suburban Urbanites shows that there are existing areas inside the urban footprint that have potential and capacity for change. My Panuku: The Presentations and The Work Ahead for Panuku #BetterAuckland post which also contains the presentation and the questions and answer session at the Auckland Development Committee last week is such an example of existing areas having potential and capacity for change.
The presentation can be viewed below:
Suburbs and their relationship with the City
Again Suburban Urbanites delves into the relationship of the notions of the suburban and the urban environments within a City. This had been earlier touched on prior in the book:
And it is something I have covered on at the beginning of my Suburban Urbanites coverage as well: Suburbs: What Are Their Relationships within a City?
When you couple that relationship of the suburban area with the urban areas of a City to the role of the suburban Centre(s) does a theme start to be teased out:
This is where I caution Auckland Council and Panuku Development Auckland when we start undertaking the Transform, Unlock and Support initiatives of the Panuku urban renewal program. Because the question needs to be asked is what do we see our Metropolitan, Town and Local Centres in the suburbs of Auckland as? Are they a place specifically for retail or are they places where more complex relationships and interactions occur with the wider City environment. Remembering in the Malls More Threatened by Internet Shopping Than Main/High Streets? it was believed that the mall not the high Street were under threat from Internet shopping. However, as I countered that is not entirely the case in Auckland with mall operators expanding their presence in Auckland and high Streets facing a resurgence (patchy as it is) even with strong growth in Internet shopping.
But back to the question on the role of the local suburban centre (as I listed above). Are they there specifically for retail or are they places where more complex relationships and interactions occur.
Sylvia Park and Botany Metropolitan Centres I could easily argue the former of that question AT THIS TIME. While Manukau City Centre (a Metropolitan Centre) would be a prime example of a suburban centre (an urban one at that too) that has those complex relationships and interactions with wider Auckland (heck even the northern Waikato as well).
Thus and ultimately if we can answer first the question of the role of the suburban centre we can then understand the evolution of the suburb and therefore finally make sure our planning regime is best geared for efficiency but sustainable urban growth.
Briefly I am going to leave you with this:
Auckland is made up of 16 nodes connected either by the rail system (11 of the nodes are) or a major road. Those nodes being:
- City Centre
- 10 Metropolitan Centres
- 5 Heavy Industrial Complexes
How do those nodes and their connections via rail or road play into the evolution of our suburbs in the past, currently and into the future?