Housing and Urban Development Minister Twyford’s Urban Development Super Ministry Draws Closer

Now for some legislation

 

I have believed that we need a Planning Ministry that oversees both Planning and urban development in New Zealand. The Australian State Governments have their Planning and Environment Ministries that do this and it is something we lack.

I have written on the matter before but first from the NZ Herald:

‘Super-ministry’ to bring housing agencies under one roof

8 Jun, 2018 8:06am

A new housing and urban development “super-ministry” bringing together all agencies involved in housing will be running by October, Housing Minister Phil Twyford says.

The new Ministry of Housing and Urban Development will bring together aspects of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Social Development and Treasury to advise the Government on housing issues.

“Addressing the national housing crisis is one of the biggest challenges our Government faces,” Twyford said.

“The new ministry will provide the focus and capability in the public service to deliver our reform agenda.”

It will become the Government’s lead adviser on housing and urban development, providing advice on housing issues, including homelessness, ensuring affordable, warm, safe and dry rental housing in the private and public markets, and support for first home buyers.

The ministry would bring together functions across from existing agencies already working in the housing area, and funds to pay for it could come from their existing operational budgets:

……..

He said there was very little capability to deliver Kiwibuild. “We’re having to build that pretty much from scratch.”

An urban development authority would be established to be the “delivery agency” for Kiwibuild and large-scale development projects.

“That would be a powerful delivery agency to speed up the building of housing and these large complex development projects.

“We need an end-to-end approach to the whole housing system.”

…..

Source: ‘Super-ministry’ to bring housing agencies under one roof

 

Excellent to see the new super Urban Development Ministry taking shape but until we get an Urban Development Act that takes all things development inside the urban limits out of the Resource Management Act and into this new Act Twyford’s new Ministry will still be hamstrung by the Ministry for the Environment (in which the RMA and the Unitary Plan sits).

 

As I said above I have written on this before and will post the relevant parts below:

My Ideal central Urban Development Authority

My Ideal central Urban Development Authority

Best we have towards a full-blown Planning Ministry

It has been known before and post-election that the (current) Minister of Transport, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Phil Twyford wants urban development to move much faster than it has in the past. While urban development is accelerating in Auckland since the Unitary Plan in November 2016 there is still a role for the State to play in investment into public projects that “guide” other projects as well a provide projects that the market would not otherwise do (emergency housing being an example). However, our urban development coordination between Cities and even Regions lack despite inter-regional commuting becoming more often while freight will always move inter-regionally.

In New South Wales (and other Australian States) the State Governments will often have a Department of Environment and Planning (or some derivative) that coordinates Planning and even embark on building projects across all the Councils within the State. This Department is often known as a Planning Ministry (and over seen by a Planning Minister) and they can have quite wide ranging powers in what they can get up to. For more with NSW see: http://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/

The question is can it be done in New Zealand?

 

This from my earlier piece on a full-blown Planning Ministry in New Zealand:

The Planning (Super) Ministry and the NZIA. What Are They?

……

Cue the Planning Ministry and the New Zealand Infrastructure Agency
First the Planning Ministry

Formally it would be known as the Ministry of Planning and the Environment and it would have four major departments.

  • The Geography Department as the overall watchdog, enforcer and coordinator when two or more of the departments are involved
  • The Department of the Environment to handle the Resource Management Act (which is meant to manage the effects on the Natural Environment)
  • The Department of the Urban/Built Environment and Building to handle a new Urban/Building and Building Environment Act (managing the urban environment and also absorbing the Building Act)
  • New Zealand Infrastructure Agency (chief agency overseeing and investor of roads, rail tracks and sea ports)

 

Transport functions like licensing, Road User Charges and registrations remain with NZTA and the Ministry of Transport.

 

Existing functions on handling the effects of the natural environment outside of an urban centre/limits would remain with the Resource Management Act and the new Department of the Environment. All urban matters including water and air inside an urban area would shift to the new Department of Urban/Built Environment and Building division including the Auckland Unitary Plan and the Auckland (Spatial) Plan. The NZIA handles the investment and maintenance of the State Highways and the heavy rail network while also sharing costs on intra-regional schemes like bus-ways and light rail. NZTA would continue providing OPEX subsidies to things like the busses and passenger trains.

The Geography Department is the overall watchdog, enforcer and coordinator of the entire Ministry:

  • Watchdog: To oversee the other Departments making sure they are delivering per policy requirements
  • Enforcer: Pretty much the butt kicker if the Departments are slacking off from policy requirements. They can also bring about prosecutions if other entities or persons break the laws set about for or by the respective Departments
  • Coordinator: when a major inter-regional planning and development exercise is undertaken spanning multiple entities across multiple jurisdictions and agencies the Geography Department is the one that sits on top of everything making sure the planning and delivery of the projects occur. Its watchdog and enforcer functions can apply if things go sideways

 

The New Zealand Infrastructure Agency oversees the roads, tracks and governance of the ports. It has full access to the National Land Transport Fund which can be used to build said roads and tracks (note: track access fees would contribute to the NLTF just as road user charges and fuel taxes do from roads).

 

Urban Geography Wall

 

Examples of the agencies working

Auckland Plan or the Unitary Plan

Given both are planning exercises handling both rural and urban areas the Department of Urban/Built Environment and Building has the main call with collaboration from the Department of the Environment for issues outside the Rural Urban Boundary.

Southern Motorway upgrades or building of the Third and Fourth Mains

NZIA would handle this these projects after the request had been peer-reviewed from the Geography Department (making sure the projects complied with sound economic, social and environmental analysis) acting in its Watchdog role.

 

Third Main in Action at Otahuhu-Middlemore
Source: Kiwi Rail
City Rail Link, Congestion Free Network 2.0 (including The Southern Airport Line), and/or Regional Rapid Rail

This is where the full power of the Planning Ministry is invoked. As I said above the Ministry of Transport would normally handle this but given the place and plan making opportunities from each of these mega projects we are going to need more than MoT. Enter the Planning Ministry and its four departments.

While the NZIA would be the main executor of building these critical infrastructure links both the Departments of the Environment and Urban/Built Environment and Building also come into play as well?

Why?

Because if we followed proper integrated land use/transport goals place making (both urban and natural) present themselves as opportunities. On the natural environment side even rail lines disrupt the environment (although not as much as roads). Storm water and run off catchments are still needed in the rural areas with rail especially if wetlands are crossed or depots are built outside the urban areas. On the urban environment side is where things get very interesting very fast.

All three mega transport projects will have stations and depots (including the provincial towns in regards to Regional Rapid Rail) and this means Transit Orientated Developments.

With TODs you draw two circles using the station as the centre point. The first circle has a radius of 800 metres and this is where the highest density developments (including civic spaces) would go. Your next circle is drawn with a two kilometre radius from the station and between the 800m and 2km circles is where your medium density (relative to the town) developments (including civic) spaces would go. 800 metres is your walk up catchment to a station while two kilometres is your e-bike catchment. Both catchments would be mixed use residential and commercial developments although the 2km radius does work for industry when a freight depot is concerned (saving truck shuttling between factory/warehouse to freight station). As this is all plan and place making this is where the Department of the Urban/Built Environment and Building comes in as it can reach over boundaries Councils can not.

As multiple Councils, Ministries and Departments involved in a project as extensive as Regional Rapid Rail the Geography Department of the Planning Ministry comes into the play as the main overseer and coordinator. The Geography Department would draw up a an Inter-Regional Spatial Plan as the main overarching document guiding the infrastructure and urban developments as well as natural environment stewardship much like the Auckland (Spatial) Plan does. With that spatial plan in place the respective Planning Authorities can undertake their local developments with help and coordination from the Planning Ministry (as a whole). The ultimate goal being planning, development and management is done at a coordinated whole-scale approach across multiple regions rather than the piece-meal approach that we have now (and has bogged down Hamilton to Auckland inter city rail).

 

Rapid Regional Rail
Source: Auckland Transport

 

 

In conclusion a Planning Ministry with its four departments including a New Zealand Infrastructure Agency would go some way to coordinate and enforce inter-regional planning that New Zealand struggles with. Our different regions have not benefited from competing with each other and should collaborate with the help of the Government via this Ministry. Each of the four departments deals with specific intricacies of planning and the different environments with the Geography Department as the overarching authority and enforcer.

…….

Source: https://voakl.net/2017/08/24/the-planning-super-ministry-and-the-nzia-what-are-they/

 

We know there is no major reforms that would merge Environment with home and transport building – yet. However, the above four departments I recommended can be easily adapted to Twyford’s Transport, Housing and Urban Development portfolio.

Already the draft Government Policy Statements 1.0 and 2.0 indicates the refocusing of the Ministry of Transport, NZTA and the National (Land) Transport Fund in supporting capital investment in rail, light rail and eventually coastal shipping. The draft GPS has these four outlines:

  1. Safety
  2. Value for Money
  3. Low Carbon (now Environment)
  4. Access

With this in mind from the Government Policy Statement and the upcoming GPS on coastal shipping we essentially get an Infrastructure agency by default in all but name that delivers all modes of transport investment in New Zealand not just more and only more roads. Note: there will be overlap with Minister of Infrastructure Shane Jone’s Ministry and Twyford’s Transport portfolio.

 

I believe the inter city busses load up on this side

 

The Urban Development Authority

Minister Twyford has made it publicly known that he wants a centralised Urban Development Authority that would be the one stop shop in planning, hearings/submissions and delivery of major urban projects not only in Auckland but right across the country. This centralised UDA would also have satellites that would be on the front line to where major urban developments were to happen. Manukau would be a good choice for a satellite UDA (that also has Council’s own UDA – Panuku in the same office) given Southern Auckland’s large scale urban development getting underway. The centralised Urban Development Authority and its satellites were first picked up here: Briefing to Incoming Ministers: How to Deliver Kiwi Build

 

The UDA would/should be incorporating:

  • Geography Department as the overall watchdog, enforcer and coordinator when two or more of the departments are involved
  • Department of the Urban/Built Environment and Building to handle a new Urban/Building and Building Environment Act (managing the urban environment and also absorbing the Building Act)

There are two changes in play owing to Housing being in the mix while Environment is still separated and handled by a different Minister (Parker). Housing – specifically the building of housing would fall under the Urban/Built Environment and Building department while the maintenance of housing, emergency housing, and tenants would still be handled as now as a separate entity. With Environment still separated District and Regional Plans (aka the Unitary Plan and the Resource Management Act for which the Unitary Plan sits under) can not be handled directly as I would like under a super Planning Ministry. While compulsion powers would be available to allow physical builds the powers to push through Public Plan Changes (e.g to change the Future Urban Zone to a live urban zone) would not be easily available potentially stalling stage 1 (Urban Geography) of any large-scale urban development project (Greenfield or Brownfield) and putting an already strained Council under further strain to get these PPC’s through. If Stage 1 (also stages 2 and 3 – Regulatory, Finance and Infrastructure )  falls over from go (and we are seeing this today: Big plan for 23,300 new homes in Auckland making slow progress)) then development stalls and we have a problem (yes I am rather polite here).

The fix the problems showing up in Stages 1-3 our Minister of THUD would need to allow the UDA to have the capacity to initiate and self-fund Public Plan Changes (that are still consistent with the Unitary Plan) if at least for nothing else relieve pressure on an already strained Council.

 

The Nodes and Satellites
Auckland Plan 2050
Source: Auckland Council

 

Urban Development Authority and Inter-Regional Spatial Planning

The theme of inter-regional spatial planning (an Auckland Plan on steroids) is a theme I have been running since the Unitary Plan first came out for feedback in 2013 and Manukau City Centre evolved in a Super Metropolitan Centre with an inter-regional catchment rather than sub regional catchment. The theme continues as Twyford (and others) look outside of Auckland and Wellington to both relieve pressure on both cities while also kick starting Provincial growth after the provinces have been hollowed out for so and too long.

The case of the “City Rail Link, Congestion Free Network 2.0 (including The Southern Airport Line), and/or Regional Rapid Rail” as mentioned in the Planning Ministry extract above would still continue through into the centralised Urban Development Authority given transport and land use are inter-connected (yes I know New Zealand often treats both as silos).

This is where a Geography Department would come in and be at it optimum utilisation within the UDA:

As multiple Councils, Ministries and Departments involved in a project as extensive as Regional Rapid Rail the Geography Department of the Planning Ministry comes into the play as the main overseer and coordinator. The Geography Department would draw up a an Inter-Regional Spatial Plan as the main overarching document guiding the infrastructure and urban developments as well as natural environment stewardship much like the Auckland (Spatial) Plan does. With that spatial plan in place the respective Planning Authorities can undertake their local developments with help and coordination from the Planning Ministry (as a whole). The ultimate goal being planning, development and management is done at a coordinated whole-scale approach across multiple regions rather than the piece-meal approach that we have now (and has bogged down Hamilton to Auckland inter city rail).

quote context: http://pllqt.it/778mew

 

Take out the term Planning Ministry and replace it with Urban Development Authority (that reports to the Minister of THUD anyway) and you get:

“As multiple Councils, Ministries and Departments involved in a project as extensive as Regional Rapid Rail the Geography Department of the Urban Development Authority comes into the play as the main overseer and coordinator. The Geography Department would draw up a an Inter-Regional Spatial Plan as the main overarching document guiding….”

If wider coordination is needed beyond the UDA and into the full THUD portfolios themselves then the Geography Department would also exist right up at the top at Ministry level (as well as UDA level).

 

Some ideas from Otahuhu down to Pareata

 

In conclusion – what would I like to see with this new centralised Urban Development Authority?

Transport is being handled through the new Government Policy Statements 1.0 and 2.0 so a tick there.

Environment unfortunately is still separated meaning the UDA could struggle with any changes needed to the Resource Management Act and the Unitary Plan (which sits under the RMA) meaning we could see trip ups at Stage 1 before a project even got off the ground.

Acquisition powers and physical development (so Built/Urban Environment, and Building) are touted to be allowed with the UDA while spatial planning especially inter-regional spatial planning (so a Geography Department) is an absolute must!

Reference: Upper North Island Needs its Version of an Auckland (Spatial) Plan

…….

Phew I think we have made through a large essay on what is ultimately Urban Geography – the discipline of spatial developments of towns and cities, the variations between and within in those cities. Urban Geography as I see it is the ultimate expression of spatial development, urban form and using both to either influence human behaviours OR human behaviours influencing the urban form.

How we handle urban geography in New Zealand is yet to be seen. But I am excited for its future – and not just because I am an Urban Geographer…..

 

Tilt Train
Source: Greater Auckland

 

……………………………….

Source: https://voakl.net/2017/08/21/regional-rapid-rail-inter-regional-planning-and-a-planning-ministry-transforming-and-unlocking-places/

 

Full post: Urban Geography: The Ultimate Expression in Inter Regional Spatial Planning, Developments and Behaviours

 

 

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