Council and Central Government Still Need to Learn the Japanese Technique of Building Infrastructure Ahead of any Developments in Southern Auckland

Good to see the Pause though on rezoning

On Tuesday the Auckland Council Planning Committee signed off three years of work that would bring about the Southern Auckland set of Structure Plans.

However, as Planning Chair Councillor Chris Darby said Kiwi Property wanting to develop a Centre in Drury with 7,000 car parks is unacceptable and that transit first should be the priority – with any development on Auckland’s southern fringes.

And fair enough as well. The era of mass-sea-of-car-parks is well and truly over as both Brownfield and Greenfield urban developments need to adapt to being more nimble and friendly towards transit, micro-mobility and active transit modes.

But are there lessons still needing to be learnt before we even attempt to convert Future Urban Zoned land to live Urban Zones? More after the following release from Auckland Council.

From Auckland Council:

Transport improvements key to success in southern growth areas

Published: 7 August 2019

The adoption of the Drury-Opaheke and Pukekohe-Paerata structure plans has highlighted the critical role the area has to support Auckland’s population growth.

About forty-five per cent of Auckland’s future urban land is around Drury and Pukekohe and an estimated 35,000 dwellings will be built over the next 30 years. The adoption of the structure plans now paves the way for land to be zoned for development.

As Penny Pirrit, Auckland Council’s Director of Urban Growth and Housing explains, managing this growth in a way that considers the needs of both developers and residents is a delicate balancing act.

“First and foremost, our goal is to enable faster delivery of housing within strong communities where there is the social and physical infrastructure, particularly public transport, in place to support people to thrive”.

“During the development of the structure plan we had a number of landowners wanting to bring forward live-zoning of Drury land that isn’t due to be development ready until at least 2028.

“However, the overwhelming feedback we have from the community is that existing traffic issues needed to be addressed before more people move to the area.

“We want to see more homes delivered in south Auckland so we sought advice from the NZTA and AT, via the Supporting Growth Programme, about what transport infrastructure would be needed to accelerate urbanisation around Drury.

“Their initial analysis has supported residents’ views that a number of major projects including rail electrification to Pukekohe, rail stations and improvements to Mill Road and State Highway 1 are necessary to alleviate the current problems before further growth happens.”

Currently, there is a significant funding gap for these projects in excess of $2 billion. Over the next nine months, a programme of work led by Auckland Council and the Ministry of Transport will develop an integrated transport delivery programme plan with funding options.

Ward Councillor Bill Cashmore says it is essential for the roading and rail infrastructure projects to be delivered to remediate current congestion levels.

“These projects need to be future-proofed to provide for the growing population, we’ve got to do it once and do it right”.

As Mrs Pirrit explains, this means Auckland Council has paused Unitary Plan changes to bring forward live zoning of land near Drury from future decades until there has been progress to fix existing transport problems.

“We’ve now got the evidence to show there’s a significant transport problem already in Drury and surrounding areas.

“We have a duty to not make things worse for the people that currently live and work in the area. It would be irresponsible to encourage new development in areas without the infrastructure that communities need.”

Source: Our Auckland

At least Auckland Council has finally heard community concerns about the poor state of existing infrastructure down here in Southern Auckland, and that before any Greenfield urban development can occur infrastructure must be brought up to scratch first.

But this leaves a lingering question that has long nagged New Zealand owing to the way we plan things. In the title I stated: Council and Central Government Still Need to Learn the Japanese Technique of Building Infrastructure Ahead of any Developments in Southern Auckland. In Japan the infrastructure is placed down first including rail (hence you might initially see a station in a paddock) then the urban development. In New Zealand the urban development and a four lane road is done first and all other infrastructure “future proofed.” That is it might be done in 30 years time after the existing infrastructure is in a very poor state like now.

Running your transit infrastructure ahead of a development means new residents are use to it from dot not 30 years time

If we are to apply the Japanese methods here the two rail stations, a new wastewater treatment plant, the bus routes and parks would be all in place in Drury, Paerata and Pukekohe before the concrete went down on the first house not the other way around. And if Pirrit wants to uphold her statement stating “We have a duty to not make things worse for the people that currently live and work in the area. It would be irresponsible to encourage new development in areas without the infrastructure that communities need” then build the infrastructure first not last.

How hard is it to draw a single line and draw two dots?

According to Auckland Transport and NZTA who come up with excuse after excuse it seems very hard.

Here is the picture from the Supporting Growth Alliance in question:

Supporting Growth Alliance Transport Network Proposal.

The map shows the new roads (we do not need a new four lane expressway as that will bung the Southern Motorway even with six lanes for decades to come) and transit improvements. The black line and two yellow dots is the Airport to Botany Rapid Transit Line with two of its stations that Auckland Transport and NZTA refuse to add. You know the very Rapid Transit line due to go online from 2021 (completion 2026-2028) that three of the four future Frequent Transit Network lines would connect to allowing people to live, work, shop and play in the South (rather than jam the motorways further north).

But hey as an Urban Geographer what do I know by adding a very simple black line and two yellow dots to represent Southern Auckland’s primary east-west spine that connects with the rest of the Southern Auckland FTN extensions being proposed by AT and NZTA.

It is good to see Council coming to realisation that opening up massive amounts of Greenfield land in Southern Auckland before ANY infrastructure is run ahead is not the wisest idea as well as annoying the community to no ends.

But Auckland Transport and NZTA also need to learn how to do integrated transport networks as well. Leaving the core Rapid Transit spine that would mitigate the 100,000 new residents from Drury to Pukekohe going north of the Airport and Manukau for work out of your documents is daft.

So just add that line!

2 thoughts on “Council and Central Government Still Need to Learn the Japanese Technique of Building Infrastructure Ahead of any Developments in Southern Auckland

  1. The main problem is the decision makers of both AT and NZTA is still stuck in the old village vision.

    They need to fly to Tokyo/Hong kong to see how real TOD looks like.

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