The Age of the City Continues. 2018 Marks Next Phase of Auckland’s Evolution – (a Brief Look into 2018)

Will it happen or will it not?


Today is Tuesday the day after Auckland Anniversary where most of the population in New Zealand gets an extra day’s Summer holiday. It also marks Auckland coming back to full power after the Christmas break and everything that goes with it – including pardon the language ‘shit on the roads.’


So with the City back at full power let’s take a brief look at 2018 – the second year of The Age of the City.


Labour Government

First off the rank is that Parliament reconvenes today for 2018. No doubt there will be plenty of fireworks as the 100 day plan of the Labour, New Zealand First and Greens Government comes to an end while National will be making its line in the sand for this year as well. While the Government has been busy on the social side (Poverty, children, employment etc) attention will soon focus back to the physical including our favourite BBQ topics: housing and transport.

Given the Auckland Transport Regional Land Transport Plan draft became a complete mess (see Greater Auckland: How did the draft RLTP end up such a mess?) and the Transport Minister started tweeting on it as well (see: UPDATED: (AT Chair Apologies to Minister) Draft RLTP From @AklTransport Signals Wholescale Cuts to Transit and Cycling While Wanting MOAR ROADS) Labour is going to have its work cut out with Auckland’s transport this year.

Several major projects are also waiting in the wings which tie into this Government and its delivery (or failure) and I’ll be covering those as well.


Auckland Plan Refresh

First up is the Auckland Plan Refresh. The Auckland Spatial Plan (its full name) is the master document outlining Auckland’s vision, goal and what it wants to achieve over the next 30 years. The Auckland Plan went live in 2012 and by law is due for its first update this year. The Auckland Plan dictates the Unitary Plan, the Long Term Plans and other documents like the Regional Land Transport Plan so a refresh is needed given how Auckland has evolved quickly over the last six years.

The Auckland Plan refresh has some interesting changes to it especially on the Urban Geography front. The Refresh will be introducing a new category between the City Centre and the Metropolitan Centre with that new category called a Node. The node being a Metropolitan Centre elevated up to serve a wider sub region or even full regional catchment compared to the specific sub regional catchment of a standard Metropolitan Centre.

Of course this is all in draft form and consultation starts next month along with the next item – the Long Term Plan.


Auckland And Manukau
Auckland Plan Refresh
Source: Auckland Council


Manukau as a node under the Auckland Plan Refresh
Source: Auckland Council



The Long Term Plan

At the same time the Auckland Plan Refresh goes out for consultation the Long Term Plan 2018-2028 will also go out for consultation. The LTP is the master Budget document that guides investment, expenditure and revenue raising for the Council over  a 10 year period. The next iteration the 2018-2028 version an update from the 2015-2025 version.  This LTP will be Mayor Phil Goff’s first and will be delivered rather ironically with a more sympathetic Government in power allowing partnerships to be more easier than they were under Len Brown and John Key.

Goff’s draft LTP has three major features:

  • Environment
  • Water and Wastewater
  • Transport

All are the big winners in Goff’s draft LTP with all three up for large capital expenditure boosts (especially water and wastewater). However, this comes at a cost with City Building (via Panuku) and again Parks and Recreation up for cuts – right when we need them as we continue accelerated City building (to become really accelerated as Kiwi Build gets off the ground later this year).

I am expecting major tussles with the LTP especially as the Howick Ward Councillors giving legitimate rants over the state of our Parks.


The Regional Land Transport Plan

The 2018-2028 RLTP is also out for consultation soon as well. The Regional Land Transport Plan is Auckland Transport’s 10 year document guiding what gets invested and what does not. Already a draft version has created a lot of angst already (see the Greater Auckland link above). Already the Chair of Auckland Transport – Dr Lester Levy has apologised to the Transport Minister Phil Twyford for a glaring lack of oversight – probably the same oversight lacking at AT since its inception in 2010. How the RLTP will play out as it hits consultation next month is going to be interesting especially as the Minister has made it very clear what the expectations are with Auckland’s transport (definitely not three mega road projects taking the top three spots). A moving feast and probably a few more train wrecks to come with this one.


So a busy first half of the year with three major consultations due out all at the same time. However, there is some physical stuff happening too.


The Airport Lines

Lotu is the Chair of the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board in the Manukau Ward where the Southern Airport Line would run.


In any case it seems there is more happening behind the Southern Airport Line (rapid transit from the Airport to Botany via Puhinui and Manukau) than is being rather let on right now (or there was some over excitement somewhere at the Onehunga community meeting with the Transport Minister last week). Regardless we should be seeing movement in the start of the construction of the Southern Airport Line whether it be bus or even light rail. The Northern Airport Line will be a challenge to get through consenting and the Notice of Requirement to lay down the corridor for the Line given it goes through large swathes of urban area (compared to its Southern counterpart).

Advocating the Transport Minister to get the Southern Airport Line started as soon as physically possible continues with stage one (to Manukau) completed by 2021 (along side with a bit of Transit Orientated Developments) (see: The Southern Airport Line and Transit Orientated Developments. Rethinking Transit and Developments in Auckland)


The Southern Airport Line 2018


The City Rail Link

While the debate over the second entrance at the K-Road station continues we should be seeing the main tunnelling of the CRL start sometime this year. This marks a major milestone in the project as the tunnels get bored out and the two new stations (along with a rebuild of Mt Eden Station) being constructed. It has taken quite a bit to get this far since Len Brown announced a major push on it in 2010 and would finally get the Government (well then Government) onside to fund half the project. That said the CRL is due to be completed and operational by 2024 allowing 12 trains per hour on the Southern, Eastern and Western Lines without the congestion at Britomart.


CRL Southern Line
Source: City Rail Link



This one is going to cause a great load of teeth gnashing from all sides as Housing Minister Phil Twyford tries to get his Kiwi Build off the ground. There is two strands and play as Twyford manages his THUD hats (Transport, Housing and Urban Development) with both the physical Kiwi Build itself (the building of said homes) and the planning side (the Housing Commission Urban Development Authority). Kiwi Build is starting effectively immediately however, the UDA is still being set up and not due to be operational until the end of the year.

How both expectations will be managed by the Minister (given a lot of Kiwi Build would be focused in South Auckland) will be definitely one to watch this year. Major expectations as well as the risk of even more major disappointment are at play with housing and more so than transport right now with Auckland. No pressure there Phil 😉



And I’ll leave it there. There are plenty of smaller projects going on such as Safer Communities and the construction of bus lanes in Papakura, the matter of the Urban Cycle Fund and of course (although quite large actually) this:



2018 – the continuation of The Age of the City