Some picks for 2018
If 2017 was the year change was going to sweep through (#SummerSeries 17/18 – The Year That Was 2017) then 2018 will be the year of great expectations and even greater disappointment.
Disappointment you say? But we have a Labour administration that replaced a do-nothing National administration you might say. Who says I was referring to the Government exclusively.
2018 marks the run up to the 2018-2028 Long Term Plan (the master budget document) being debated and finally operative by July 1 next year. This Long Term Plan will be Mayor Goff’s first after his predecessor had seen three LTP’s through successfully (one in the legacy era and two with the Super City). The Long Term Plan will be a significant one as for the first time since the Super City formed we have a cooperative Central Government so expectations will be very high.
Equally the risk of disappointment will be just as high as Auckland Council decide which projects will proceed and which ones will be dropped to the unfunded list. So what will make it and what won’t as we take a look at 2018.
2018 will be the year expectations will be high of the Government but also where disappointment is equally a high risk as factors outside of their control influence what is delivered and what is not. For brevity I will focus on transport and housing.
As noted in my Briefing to Incoming Ministers: How to Deliver Kiwi Build post there are challenges to roll out Kiwi Build and the 100,000 state housing build program:
And the opportunities:
Twyford as recently as yesterday reported that KiwiBuild is going to start effectively immediately – that is before the Housing Commission urban development authority is established.
From NewsTalk ZB:
The Government has set up an interim KiwiBuild unit, the first step towards meeting its commitment to build 100,000 affordable homes in 10 years.
Housing Minister Phil Twyford said it will take at least a year to establish the Housing Commission that will drive KiwiBuild.
“But we’re not waiting to get started on building the 100,000 affordable houses New Zealand desperately needs,” he said.
“That’s why we’ve set up an interim KiwiBuild unit within MBIE so we can get cracking now while the legislation to establish the Housing Commission is developed.”
The KiwiBuild unit will be responsible for:
* Building KiwiBuild homes as part of redevelopment of state housing land, alongside new state and open market homes
* Scaling up the building of KiwiBuild homes on under-utilised Crown-owned land
* Purchasing or underwriting new homes off the plans in private developments
* Investigating major greenfield and urban regeneration projects, so that they can be progressed swiftly by the Housing Commission once established
* Working with councils, iwi and private developers
* Exploring innovative ways to address current constraints including alternative financing options and construction practices.
So KiwiBuild is to start immediately while the Housing Commission is being established. Huge expectations to deliver but also risk knowing that even the Unitary Plan and Auckland Plan could equally spanner things if the Government does not line its ducks up properly. I know Twyford was looking at Central Government writing Spatial Plans (the Auckland Plan is our Spatial Plan) nationwide so it will be interesting to see how 2018 treats KiwiBuild.
Transport will be another one of big expectations and most likely big disappointments. Again Twyford is leading the way with the East West Link being reset, transit projects being accelerated and uneconomical roading projects promised by National being thrown out. Associate Transport Minister Julie Ann-Genter last week promised a $28 million rural roading safety initiative to start in February next year in order to help get that shocking road toll down.
Pent up demand for long-awaited transit projects like the two Airport Lines are creating high levels of excitement as the Government starts rolling these projects out (Airport Lines, The Airport Access Business Case and Light Rail. Dominoes all falling into place!) however, and again disappointment will come about from reality checks of such projects. Just as I predicted years ago the price and the opening time-frame of the City Rail Link the prediction the Northern Airport Line (City Centre to Airport via Dominion Road) being snagged in planning issues also come to play.
The Dominion Road stretch of the Northern Airport Line is most likely where the snags will hit causing delays to the project. While the line will be built within the road corridor that does not stop issues coming up from wider aspects given business and residents are also on that route. Greater Auckland blogged recently that debate on where the alignment of the Northern Airport Line might run and if that debate flares up it will certainly cause delays.
No matter as its Southern counterpart from the Airport to Botany via Manukau and Puhinui Stations will roll out quickly from next year creating great excitement once it is open. That excitement might be tempered though as demand outstrips supply of the route (initially by bus) and we wonder if it should have been Light Rail in the first place.
The refreshed Auckland Transport Alignment Plan (ATAP) is due out early next year and that is bound to be a real mixed bag (but an improvement to the current iteration of the document).
On to Council
2018 will be a big year for Goff and his Governing Body of Auckland Council. This is from two major Plans working their way through the processes and becoming operative in July next year. I have already mentioned the Long Term Plan being one while the second is the Auckland (Spatial) Plan refresh.
Much as Auckland and the Airport Lines were a case of make or break for Bill English (was a case of break) the Long Term Plan will make or break Mayor Goff more than they ever did with Len Brown. To Goff’s credit he has acknowledged the major pressures facing Auckland and has set a budget proposal to match: Mayor Goff Introduces First 10-Year Budget Proposal (The 2018-2028 Long Term Plan). New Targeted Rates Likely. However, this has been tempered by his ill-considered 2.5% rates rise pledge that was not going to be achievable if we want to get necessary projects off the ground sooner. 3.5% average Rates Rise is still tolerable (to be honest we could hit 5% before having to worry) given the $114 Interim Transport Levy expires June 30 next year.
One thing to watch will be if the LTP 2018-2028 gets as many or even more submissions than its 2015 counterpart and if so the level of support the 2015 LTP relatively enjoyed. While the usual we want everything but don’t want to pay for it brigade will continue to make noises (and pen pieces to the Herald) what I am more curious in is Goff’s leadership to see the LTP through (see: Testy council meeting shows Goff’s honeymoon over).
The Auckland Plan is also under refresh and due to hit consultation the same time as the draft Long Term Plan will. I have talked about the refresh before and how the Development Strategy is moving towards a poly-centric modal of spatial planning: Planning Committee Decision Digests – November 28, 2018: Auckland Plan Refresh a Go for Consultation and The Auckland Plan And THE NODES. Why Manukau, Albany and Westgate are Nodes and Takapuna is Not. The latter of the two posts highlighted disappointment from mono-centric core purists while promoting excitement (and a sense of reality) from dual core/multi node supporters like myself. How the nodes will be handled in the consultation, debate and finally operative mode (of the Auckland Plan) will also be one to watch.
The final call for 2018 goes out to transport boffins with Auckland Transport under new leadership (a new CEO). Expectations towards Auckland Transport will be extremely high next year in rolling out more bus lanes, transit lines, and cycling/walking infrastructure. These expectations are being fuelled by Central Government putting its foot on the accelerator and somewhere down the line these expectations are going to be tempered. Tempered either by Auckland Transport dragging the chain as it has in the past (re: Bus lanes on the Great South Road and Manukau Station Road) or funding – their simply wont be enough funding to execute the roll outs as fast as we like.
What do you think 2018 will have in store for Auckland? I have not covered everything and will do another one of these posts on Auckland Anniversary Weekend as the year begins to take off!