Mayoral Candidate Mark Thomas Releases Auckland Development Policy #Auckland2016

Spoke and hubs, and Streets of Local Significance


Note: This is not an endorsement of a mayoral candidates policy. The policy posted below is of a mayoral candidate for your reading and if wish so for your comments or questions. 


From Mayoral Candidate Mark Thomas:

New Growth Policies For Auckland

Auckland Mayoral candidate Mark Thomas will establish Special Development Areas in Auckland to fast-track new housing, he will use direct council incentives to bust land banks and he will develop a new ‘Hub and Spoke’ Unitary Plan model under the next council.

Thomas also announced he would prioritise resolving key transport and public engagement issues with the Ports of Auckland, rather than any plan to move the port and he would implement a Streets Of Local Significance (SOS) approach to better address local transport bottlenecks.

He outlined key parts of his growth plan to a Manurewa-Takanini Rotary meeting this week.

“Even with the most aggressive Unitary Plan delivered by the Hearings Panel, Auckland will not make quick enough progress on building new, more affordable housing using business-as-usual. We are not providing enough funding for our share of growth, we don’t use private capital effectively and we are too slow to process consents.”


Establish Special Development Areas And Streets Of Local Significance

“I will establish Special Development Areas in five key areas including: Henderson, Onehunga, Manukau, Northcote and Takapuna. This will allow much quicker progress on the potentially up to 15,000 new houses – on top of current developments.”

“I will also apply SDA status to locations in Auckland that are under greatest infrastructure pressure from housing development already underway. This includes areas such as Takanini/Drury, Kumeu/Huapai and Silverdale.”

“Our regional infrastructure deficit has worsened with Special Housing Area pressure and we need to make faster progress on key projects such new bus ways and road realignments.

“I will develop a Streets Of Local Significance approach to more quickly unblock some of our transport arteries.”

Thomas said he would seek Government agreement to amend the Resource Management Act to establish SDAs and the Land Transport and Local Government Acts as necessary to establish a Streets of Local Significance approach.”

“If Government will not amend the legislation, I will further reprioritise spending from councils $817M Governance, Support, Economic and Culture Budget into greater growth funding to get the transport and water infrastructure for new housing developments.”

“I will also advance the Auckland Council Chief Economists recommendations to allow private providers to provide their own infrastructure if they can do this more cheaply than Auckland Council’s monopoly providers Auckland Transport and Watercare.”

“I will also use direct council leverage (e.g. rates remission, development contributions concessions) to incentivise land bankers to help bust land banks and develop land more quickly.”

Thomas said he had already flagged his proposal to swap half the airport shares and the port operating company to fund agreed infrastructure. He is proposing to extend this approach using other council assets and facilities where a better return can be gained by swapping them into growth assets. This could include under-utilised stadiums and community facilities where local boards and their communities agree.

He will also fully implement the Rules Reduction Taskforce recommendations which he served on to change council’s culture, introduce a new ‘customer-led’ approach and dramatically improve consent processing times. This includes introducing a competitive consenting option.


New Hub And Spoke Unitary Plan

“The compact city approach of the Unitary Plan has divided Auckland. As Mayor, I will work with the incoming Unitary Plan and the new council to redevelop it into a ‘Hub and Spoke’ model which better connects communities to the development Auckland needs and provides the connections at the same time.”

“Our planning should take more account of the way communities want to develop and where it is market attractive, and this should be much better linked to connecting infrastructure.”

Thomas said he would focus first on the Special Development Areas where new housing can be built more quickly. However he will then initiate a council-led Unitary Plan change to reset the residential and heritage rules consistent with a “Hub and Spoke” model if those approved by council are unacceptable.

“I will do this by establishing a new local board/community led planning framework similar to that used by Vancouver and Brisbane.”


Plan For Life In Auckland, Not Life on Mars

“I expect that at some point the Port of Auckland may well outgrow its site, however this is decades into the future. We have higher priorities in Auckland right now than being distracted by such an exercise.”

Thomas said irrespective of any early decision to move the port, its growth pressures over the next five –ten years mean steps must be taken to relieve transport congestion.

“Improved rail servicing on the existing line and upgrading the Grafton Gully road corridor are priorities I will advance.”

“The port has consistently underestimated the impact of technology and productivity. I will direct them to think more innovatively how they can operate more effectively on a more limited footprint – with additional transport investment.”

Thomas noted the Transport Minister Simon Bridges had also stated he did not think it likely the port would be moved.


A New Economic Agency Driven By The Economy

“We have not made enough progress driving economic development in Auckland.”

“As flagged in my policy to merge the tourism and events aspects of ATEED together with Regional Facilities Auckland, I will also consult with business on the new form for an economic development agency. ”

“My preference is to integrate into Panuku Development Auckland unless business believes there are compelling reasons for it to stand-alone. Direct business funding into this agency will be essential.”

“Local town centres have been largely ignored by the current mayor. My new agency will produce a Local Economic Development strategy for Auckland, in partnership with local boards, business associations and communities.”

Thomas said his growth policy outline was designed to get Auckland working more effectively and achieving more of our immediate existing priorities more quickly.



Couple of things here that stand out:

  1. Local Economic Development agencies for Town Centres and Special Development Areas sound a lot like what Panuku is doing now (think Transform Manukau, and Takapuna) and the 10 Spatial Priority Areas mentioned in the 2015-2025 Long Term Plan. So how Thomas’s proposals will work here when the existing structure already does this is yet to be seen.
  2. I doubt any Council led changes to water down the Unitary Plan once it goes live in September will make it past Parliament given this: Government and Labour wish to abolish Auckland boundary to ease housing crisis. While the news article is an entire debate in itself Government and Labour have threatened intervention together in any attempt to water down the Unitary Plan. Something those 13 NIMBY Councillors might want to watch very carefully.
  3. Streets of Local Significance. This better not be codifying Auckland Transport’s road fest agenda seen in the north, north-west and South with the new urban developments. In any case I hope Mark realises the difference between a street and a road. Yes they are two very different terms to planners, urban designers and even geographers like myself. A road is a thoroughfare designed to move traffic as efficiently as possible. Roads do include express and motorways. A street may look like road but a street is designed towards more being pro-people. Meaning the car takes second place to a transport strip designed to either move people on foot efficiently or encourage people to mix, mingle and play. A street also is essentially the front yard or space to the residential or commercial development that surrounds it. A road is a barrier like a fence. So I hope Mark knows what he is saying here.


As for the spoke and hub? Need to look at that one more closely.


So what do you think at what Mayoral candidate Mark Thomas has proposed?


MCC-1985-photo-Barry-Moore Source: