Preparing South Auckland for the Post Pandemic Recovery

Plan Now or Face Deep Recession/Depression

This is about the Post Pandemic Recovery and how to make best use of it. This is not about the current Pandemic situation in which we should be deferring to our experts at this time – if not please do so today!

In the final stages of World War 2 the Big Three (FDR (then Truman), Churchill and Stalin) would meet to discuss the portioning of Europe but more to the point the Post-War Recovery – the biggest Civil Works Program rebuilding a shattered world seen to date – even today.

With the Covid-19 situation we will end in the same situation, a World shattered and a Recovery Program needed to get us back on track and keep us out of a Deep Depression once the Pandemic is over.

While the Ministry of Health, Politicians and supporting Officialdom are taking us through the Pandemic, the last I looked the Ministry of Urban Development, MBIE and Council Planning Departments were not. Meaning (if we follow the Population Redeploy Model) it is time for them and Third Parties like myself to prepare the Plans for a Civil Works Program once we hit the Post Pandemic Recovery Phase.

Why Plan and why Plan now?

The short answer: to make sure the sharpest edges of a pending Depression are avoided when we hit the Recovery Phase.

Long Answer:

Two fold:

  • Regear and retool New Zealand for a Green more self sufficient future while still having trade and tourism
  • Unemployment figures are looking at anywhere between 8-30% once we hit the Post Pandemic Recovery Phase. That is enough to kick us into a long cold Depression (worse than a Recession) unless we have programs to get people back into work or keep people into work

Also (as mentioned earlier) Spatial Planners like myself are not tied to the Ministry of Health handling the Pandemic crisis. We leave that to the experts who are doing a very fine job in these trying times. Where our expertise will sit is in the Recovery Phase getting the nation back onto its feet – its Green and self sufficient feet.

And it seems the Finance Minister has heeded the call to get those Post Pandemic Recovery Plans going as we see here:

Coronavirus: Government starts economic planning for post-lockdown New Zealand

Luke Malpass and Henry Cooke. 11:30, Mar 28 2020

A huge nation-building programme of infrastructure and public works will be needed to drag New Zealand out of recession when the country eventually emerges out of coronavirus lockdown, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says.

But it won’t be easy. In an interview with Stuff, Robertson also sounded a warning: the post-lockdown economy is going to be tough, unemployment will soar and the entire domestic economic structure of New Zealand could need rethinking.

The Government, he admits, is still trying to get its head around the depth of a potential economic nosedive.

Source: Coronavirus: Government starts economic planning for post-lockdown New Zealand

Getting it right

If these reports of empty roads are anything to go by our land use allocation to roads is so inefficient it is not funny:

Coronavirus: Traffic down 80 per cent in lockdown

Todd Niall. 13:39, Mar 28 2020

Traffic counts have put a figure on what was instantly clear – motorway traffic dried-up as the country went into coronavirus lockdown on Thursday.

NZTA data shows the sharpest daily fall compared with a week earlier camein Christchurch, where highway flows were down almost 81 per cent.

Wellington flows were down 78 per cent, and in Auckland traffic on the motorways was 76 per cent lighter, Hamilton was down 74 per cent and Dunedin 77 per cent.

Auckland's normally packed northern motorway at St Mary's Bay was empty on the first day of the Coronavirus lockdown.
DAVID WHITE/STUFFAuckland’s normally packed northern motorway at St Mary’s Bay was empty on the first day of the Coronavirus lockdown.

In Auckland’s case, the comparison against the previous Thursday was already a day in which light vehicle traffic had dipped.

Source: Coronavirus: Traffic down 80 per cent in lockdown

With the large Post Pandemic Recovery Works being planned and the Pandemic showing how inefficient we are in land use the perfect opportunity has shown itself to regear and retool the Economy especially the Urban Economy that serves humanity rather than the current situation with humanity serving the Economy.

Reallocating road space that is so slanted towards cars would be the first priority. And South Auckland is a prime candidate with its oversized roads and flush medians that are not inside the Heavy Industrial Complexes. Given South Auckland also follows a grid pattern of sorts (especially Manukau City Centre) this is a good time to create urban island where the outside/border road runs cars and transit while the interior is reallocated for transit and active modes.

Of course more bus lanes, extending Airport to Botany Rapid Transit to include Roscommon and Mill Roads, and better transit frequencies would not go amiss as well. And yes foot paths should not be 1.5 metres wide but between 2.2m for standard roads/streets and 3.5m for high volume areas such as outside schools.

Manukau. Source: Panuku

Land Use

But if transport reallocation is to be successful then by lord we need to get on top of our extremely inefficient land use practices:

Even with the Unitary Plan our land use current and future is still over reliant on single use residential and commercial zones and no where near enough Mixed Use Zones including better dispersion of Local and Neighbourhood Centres to enable basic amenities being within 15 minute walking distance. Furthermore better support for our Metropolitan Centres to truly enable the 15/20 Minute City and cut down excessive commuting for work is also top priority.

Those two maps came from AECOM and show the 30 Minute Transit Catchment from Britomart and Manukau by transit. Source:

The transit map above shows how badly we need to rejig the Urban Economy through better transit and better land use planning through our zoning. Notice how Britomart does not reach South Auckland at all while Manukau does (it will capture Howick once Airport to Botany Rapid Transit is open 2028 and Pukekohe Electrification is complete 2025)? Thus if we are to regear and retool Auckland especially South Auckland better land use decisions are needed to keep more South Aucklanders working in South Auckland (thus save the trans-Auckland commute and gumming up the transport network).

The 30 Minute Transit Map. Source: Werner Pretorius

And yes that includes City Centre workers living in the South. As we are seeing with Covid-19 and remote working; more of those workers could work not in the City Centre but Manukau City Centre with trips to the City Centre for meetings (if needed) in the off-peak. Basically we are spreading the load away from the twin Rush-Hour peaks. It also means Auckland Transport needs to step up with better transit planning as well.

There is so much opportunity to “get things right” in the Post Pandemic Recovery. The Status Quo with their 4-lane motorways and “one-more-general-lane will fix it” need not apply for when we hit the Recovery Phase as the rather deserted roads are showing.

The Finance Minister has given New Zealand a $52b Civil Works fiscal envelope to get us out of the impending Depression and to set us on a new course. This equally applies for the South as it does every else in New Zealand. #letdothis but let’s do it right!

Where is our City at today Source: Toderian UrbanWorks