Anti Urban Councillor?
After the shock upset in Manurewa-Papakura Ward with Daniel Newman tipping out Calum Penrose in the recent elections it was always going to be interesting to see how Councillor Newman will handle being on the Governing Body of Auckland Council. His first out at the first Governing Body a couple of weeks ago was quiet compared to Orakei’s Desley Simpson but his points on co-governance with the Local Boards was made loud and clear.
Former insiders rank Newman as one to watch. Newman is not as antagonistic towards Goff as he was towards Len which stemmed back from the former Manukau City Council days (and cost us the Manukau rail South Link in the progress). His Trump like campaign against the establishment might have won him the seat in the Manurewa-Papakura Ward but will Newman be able to deliver to his supporters (the answer is no (thus far) looking at Local Government Official Information Act requests back from Auckland Transport). Newman going rather quiet of late could be explained at the set-backs of his campaign around Takanini Station (it is Government land not Auckland Transport) and the Bus Stops (they are not going anywhere and the angst has died right off).
None-the-less Newman has penned a piece to the Herald and I must say it is a disappointment.
I’ll break it down by the most crucial parts.
Daniel Newman: Growing city can’t mean falling living standards
Daniel Newman represents the Manurewa-Papakura ward on the Auckland Council.
Amidst the clamour for more affordable housing and the ongoing debate about accommodating new suburbs around our metropolitan fringe, the Cinderella plight of existing Aucklanders in our established suburbs has been overlooked. That’s dangerous.
Now where have I heard this before? Cameron Brewer and we know how much he achieved being Captain No for six years….
Auckland Council and the Minister of Housing require that long-established communities of residents share their utility assets, give up parks and public open space and forgo other amenities to accommodate both greenfields as well as intensification throughout Auckland.
Assets such as local roads are “renewed” to the same standard to ensure the health and safety of commuters. Yet those same roads heave under the compounding pressure of more and more traffic.
In effect, the resilience of our utility assets and level of service available to hundreds of thousands of Aucklanders is being frittered away; cuts in service standards are the norm.
That sounds rather NIMBY by Newman especially as Auckland is booming and of course being New Zealand’s sole international city (that does not suffer from the shakes) it will always attract people domestic and international. Also campaigning on capped Rates rises means something will have to give if you want to maintain parks and community services.
Making the Unitary Plan operative does not resolve the city’s planning challenge. Completing the City Rail Link does not resolve traffic congestion.
Well it actually does with the Unitary Plan as Auckland now has one master rule book in terms of planning. City Building however, is something else entirely. As for the CRL it was never designed to resolve congestion in its own right. But what it does do is boost the number of trains on the existing network and allow the expansion of that same network as well as allowing the construction of the Airport, Botany and North Shore Lines. Together as a whole more to the point a NETWORK is what assists in moving people and freight around Auckland. Remember a fully loaded EMU 3-car set is 288 cars off the road.
Figures from the 2013 Census proved a point blindingly obvious to most of us: more than 80 per cent of us live and work in the suburbs. Few of us lead linear lives. The commercial towers of Queen St may be a focal point for commerce, but in fact most Aucklanders do not work there.
Oh boy we have another anti-urbanist just like Councillor Quax and former Councillor Brewer. It seems Newman is unable to comprehend in three-dimensional terms the role of a City, its urban cores (we have two), its industrial complexes (we have five), its smaller Centres , its suburbs and fringes, and its rural surrounds. I need not remind Newman that his ward contains half of the Transform Manukau program led by Panuku Development Auckland which sees a 600ha area of urban development regenerate. In the end Manukau will become a fully urban place evolving from a suburban outlier to support the South.
Also last I looked there were some 2,000 homes in various stages of construction with just as many on the way in the Papakura Local Board area. Things are happening even in the suburbs.
Late demands for out-of-scope urban intensification followed by a radical upzoning for much of metropolitan Auckland by the former Independent Hearings Panel has created enormous pressure on local roads and our network of wastewater and stormwater pipes. Replacing standalone homes with compact townhouses means more people, more traffic, more flushing toilets and more impermeable surfaces.
Auckland can sweat its utility assets for longer and demand more for less renewal investment, but at some point, the standard of amenity will fall.
Tell me something I do not already know when Central Government drags its responsibilities on infrastructure unless it is a road.
In fact, the fall in living standards is well under way, most evident during the afternoon peak on the roads. New suburban subdivisions in my own ward, consented during the previous term, will push more cars on to the roads. A drive from Manurewa to Papakura during the afternoon peak now can take you up to an hour on a bad day; and those days are increasingly frequent.
My forthcoming letter of bid to Mayor Phil Goff sets out a need to fundamentally reconsider the council group’s renewals budget in the forthcoming annual plan. Yes, financial prudence requires that we avoid the debt ceiling and preserve the financial covenants necessary to retain the council’s credit rating.
But we cannot and should not rob our constituents of the amenity and level of service they enjoy to require more cars on existing roads, more wastewater down existing pipes, and more hours of use on existing sports fields.
Intensification requires an increased level of service; more resilient roads and pipes, better maintained local parks and playgrounds, and better stewardship of our utility assets. This needs to be funded; and opportunity cost savings in other parts of the budget need to be identified to meet an increased level of service.
My fear is that a bow wave of unfunded transport renewal liabilities will eventually hit the council; liabilities that exceed our current revenue path. Auckland Transport must account for this.
Above all else, Aucklanders must demand that levels of service cannot and should not be compromised. They have at least one vote in support – mine.
Auckland’s pace of growth now exceeds the council’s capacity to fund the infrastructure necessary to accommodate growth. The Government’s $1 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund is a useful contribution towards accelerating housing development; but it won’t fund more than a small handful of areas identified for future urban development, such is the deficit in transport funding.
The cost of the Kaikoura earthquakes will not be cheap. But moving forward, it is time for the cost of growing Auckland – the largest regional economy – to be shared nationally. Yes, Aucklanders are paying more and struggling under an increasing burden of congestion and CO2 emissions from idling cars and trucks.
This is not a regional challenge, this is a national challenge that requires a national solution.
Somewhat disappointing from Newman on several fronts. Playing the NIMBY and anti-urban card will not help Manurewa-Papakura in the slightest let alone the rest of Auckland. A little bit more than firing off a letter is also needed given we already know the problems and the solutions since the Auckland Plan went operative in 2012. We have the Auckland Plan as the guide, we have the Unitary Plan as the rule book, we have the Auckland Transport Alignment Program (ATAP) as the transport framework document, and we have more framework plans coming out for large URBAN regeneration projects like Manukau City Centre.
It is all there Newman what we need you to do is to be our voice and advocate, not write letters ADVOCATE and work WITH the Governing Body especially the Core-8. Otherwise this is going to be a very long three years for the fast growing Manurewa-Papakura Ward to the point we will be left behind while the City powers foward.