Housing, Jobs, Special Housing Areas, Infrastructure and Dumb Planning. A Redux!

Lessons from 2014 and 2015 still not being learnt


Yes I penned together an opinion piece for the Auckland community papers (Western Leader, Manukau Courier etc) on why the recent Housing Infrastructure Fund announcement in north-west Auckland was one of those rare cases of doing something that is “worse than nothing.”

While the piece stands on its own when combined with pieces 2014 and 2015 on the same issue in the same area a pattern emerges of what is essentially dumb planning by Central Government and of which Council is not absolved of either. In this redux I put all three pieces together on north-west Auckland, sprawl and what is effectively dumb planning. It is in chronological order from 2017 to 2014.


Housing Infrastructure Loan: Not Exactly Helping Auckland

Should have gone South not North-West


I wrote a piece for Stuff.co.nz on why I thought the recent $300m loan to enable 10,500 new homes in north-west Auckland was a bad idea:

OPINION: Finance Minister Steven Joyce and mayor Phil Goff announced $300 million of the Housing Infrastructure Fund would be used in Auckland for 10,500 new homes in north-west Auckland. Good right?

Well I would call it one of the rare cases of doing worse than nothing.



You will need to read Housing infrastructure loan ‘worse than nothing’ to find out my full reasoning.


However, it is not all bad news:

Should the north-west miss out while the south should go first?
Far from it! Putting the south first allows the north-west to get up to infrastructure and employment/amenity ready status.
And south goes first with its already existing infrastructure and employment complexes and amenities nearby.
It is all about trying to get the best bang for your buck.

quote context: http://pllqt.it/7YDcMx


It is all about getting the infrastructure lined up first properly using existing assets then going onto new assets.

Also major developments coming out of Southern Auckland soon!

Westgate Metropolitan Centre


Source: Housing Infrastructure Loan: Not Exactly Helping Auckland


From 2015

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

 Todd Niall, Auckland Correspondent – todd.niall@radionz.co.nz

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: http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/top/272807/council-defends-housing-area-refusal

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…


Source: Auckland (and NZ) Can Not Afford More Sprawl


And from 2014:

Queensland Gets It Right, Auckland Continues to Dither and Get it Wrong

Bob Dey not even impressed


QLD Planning Ministry
QLD Planning Ministry


Recently I have conveyed my thoughts both around Council’s recent performance, and on how the Australian States have Ministers and Ministry’s of Planning (or Departments to the equivalent of). You can see my critique of Council in the following two posts:

Why I am Unhappy, and How to Annoy The City in One Go


Targeted Rate for the City Rail Link?

Also by extension this one as well when I critiqued the Greens: Not In the Best Position.

For a look at the New South Wales Planning Department you can check here: Minister and Ministry of Planning

I picked up from Bob Dey’s Property Report blog that the State of Queensland’s Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning is continuing on its massive City Building exercises that make ours look like developing a village in comparison.

From Bob Dey:

One obvious difference between Auckland & Queensland is size. One less obvious difference is the development programme of the state government, just in the south-eastern corner of the state.

One similarity is that both have a desire for economic growth. One distinction is that this desire is being played out in south-eastern Queensland in ways not seen in Auckland – carefully considered and years in the making, the same as here, but now coming to fruition.

An ad this week seeking expressions of interest for an 81ha residential development estate out in the dust – 3km south of the Beaudesert town centre – may indicate what I thought at first: Why would anyone want to live in a suburban-style subdivision, on 480-640m² lots, 70km south-west of Brisbane, 65km west of Surfers Paradise, seemingly in the middle of nowhere?


A key factor in the Queensland development schemes is that jobs & nearby homes are both part of the equation. In New Zealand, skyrocketing house prices in some areas (notably, central Auckland suburbs) have brought calls for starter home development on the fringes, but these calls haven’t been matched by serious progress toward developing new business in the same areas.

Waitakere in west Auckland has long been a dormitory area, providing few local jobs for residents. The former Rodney District Council began a concerted effort to establish new businesses a few years before it was gathered up in the super-city, and in the first 4 years of the new council covering the whole region there has been less emphasis on those out-of-centre schemes.

That is partly the result of the absurd governance system imposed on the region, under which local boards have to beg the governing body for money – get some, then have it taken away again, as they’ve found this month – and those boards still play only a minor role in local economic development.

In addition, that local economic development is small fry, nothing like the serious ventures Rodney was trying to be the catalyst for establishing.

The special housing areas under the government-council housing accord signed a year ago have some requirement for infrastructure – underground services before development, with less emphasis on nearby jobs & efficient transport.

To achieve best results, the funding structure needs an overhaul, and before that happens it needs to be discussed by the participants, the people of Auckland. Targeted rates for economic development in specific locations have been included in the Auckland Plan as one possibility, a betterment tax lingers as a possibility for development around new public infrastructure such as railway stations, there was a government hint 2 years ago at provision being made for infrastructure funding ahead of demand.

But there has been no discussion with the community, no firm proposals have been put or even suggestions floated, the government hasn’t returned to amplify how it would organise advance infrastructure funding – and how do you set a location-based targeted rate for a railway line?


Full article and source: http://www.propbd.co.nz/property-council-says-complications-will-add-year-unitary-plan-process/


I have just asked Auckland Council, and Auckland Design Champion Ludo Campbell-Reid on Twitter if Auckland is meant to be competing against the international arena of other cities. Well looking at what Bob Dey has posted about Queensland’s Planning Ministry (Department) coordinating with the Local Government Authorities in South East Queensland rather large City Building projects, Auckland is simply left in the dust. To make matters worse as Bob and I have both pointed out both Council and Government are that disjointed in Auckland City Building we risk dropping out of Beta World City Status real fast leaving some awful consequences with us (think Brain Drain Mk2).

Quoting: But there has been no discussion with the community, no firm proposals have been put or even suggestions floated, the government hasn’t returned to amplify how it would organise advance infrastructure funding – and how do you set a location-based targeted rate for a railway line?

The “kicker” on that disjointedness that should make every Auckland citizen and business scream!

I see Bob has picked up how Council (and Government) are good on Special Housing Areas but lousy on establishing business land areas for employment centres THAT ARE NOT in South Auckland (so Kumeu and Silverdale). I have picked up on it before in my Jobs or Houses [UPDATED] and A Question About City Building posts and I told Councillor Dick Quax that maybe we need Special Business Areas or Special Industry Areas to help them establish in the north and north-west of Auckland (South Auckland is fine and well ahead to the rest of Auckland). So again more disjointedness by Council and Government while New South Wales, and Queensland surge ahead thanks to their Planning Ministries.


I think it is time for a big overhaul with Auckland Council and Central Government. Time to dissolve the Ministries of  Local Government, and for the Environment and merge them (as well as Infrastructure and Housing) into this new super Ministry of Planning and Environment just like Australia. As I said earlier on:

So how does this work in Auckland?
The Minister of Planning would be the Minister who coordinates between the Ministers of Transport, Finance, MBIE (Joyce), Infrastructure (which would be assumed by the planning Minister anyhow), Education, Health, Environment (RMA), Local Government Minister (both Local Government, Environment would be merged into the Planning Ministry), Housing, Social Development, and the Council(s) when we embark on City Building exercises such as Auckland is now and will be with the Unitary Plan.

The MoP would be the final authority on the above and if required can over ride a Council and other Minister bar the Minister of Finance or the PM on “planning” issues.

Source: Minister and Ministry of Planning



And from there Council can be restructured to bring Auckland Transport back in-house, Waterfront Auckland dissolved, and the Local Boards more power, funding, and autonomy as well. Then maybe Auckland can compete against the world without community project budget cuts, and disorganisation in our planning apparatus.


Source: Queensland Gets It Right, Auckland Continues to Dither and Get it Wrong


Somethings have evolved like the creation of Panuku Development Auckland but somethings have stilled stayed the same. Such as placing sprawl out in the middle of nowhere with no large employment centres nearby, no decent rapid or even frequent transit networks nearby, and taking up capacity on water-trunk lines that could have been used for developments that were more “infrastructure ready.”

It is certainly great the Unitary Plan is live but we are not making the most of it nor the Auckland Plan when we continue 20th Century planning of placing residential areas in the middle of nowhere without any amenities to support them. It happened with Massey in the 60s when the North Western Motorway was built, it happened in Flatbush in the 00’s and even now, and it is happening out in the north-west today.

When will we learn if we are serious on sprawl and long distance commuting harming the physical and natural environments?!


West Auckland Industry potential