Need a Slick Marketing Campaign for the CRL

Why build the CRL? It’s about capacity « Auckland Transport Blog.


As I covered in Tuesday’s post about me being at the LTP Forum, it seems the CRL marketing campaign is a dismal failure by Auckland Council and Auckland Transport. Why? If only two out of twelve at my table on Monday (me being one of the two and the Councillor not counting) know of the CRL and its actual benefit/costs then I could safely translate and transfer that figure out to the rest of the tables at the Forum on Monday and the rest of wider Auckland. The article at Stuff was pretty indicative of what I already knew and to be honest; at current rates we are very close to within a whisker of losing the City Rail Link REGARDLESS if our resident Mayor (sorry no prude jokes this morning) stumps up with the funding from China!

The Auckland Transport Blog has been hammering on about the need to “Sell the CRL” to Auckland over the last week with posts at the hyperlink in the title above and HERE as well.

My thoughts on the entire affair can be seen here:

Quoting (I hate manual adding html code)
[The reason why all of this is important is not just so nosey bloggers can keep up with the play, but also because public support for the CRL is critical in ensuring that it goes ahead. While most of us are resigned to the fact that the current government will never fund the project, no matter how fantastic its revised business case is, there may be a change in government by 2014 – still time to push the “go” button and have the CRL completed by 2021: which has always been the target completion date. However, there are a few huge assumptions in that timeline]

And there is the entire argument summed up in a nutshell.

Basically where Council has failed – the little people need to step up to the plate and “take-over” – or another way of putting it “If you want it done right then do it yourself!” :P

What I am getting at is can you Peter (and Matt and Patrick) some up your Marketing CRL posts to 900 words each, collate them and pester the Herald big time to try to run either a Dialogue printing or even a mini-series. Pressure from those concerned ending up in the Herald could spur Council back into action before the LTP derails things in June.

This needs to be put back in the spot light and rather fast – I was not particularly amused that Dog Registrations can get 4000 submissions and the CRL bugger all and a scant remark out of Although I did have a happy moment Council Finances and Debt did get a mention with yours truly getting a quote put in Tuesday’s Herald :D – a shame though it wasn’t the CRL which I did hammer on at Length though on Monday at the LTP forum AND got the entire table of 12 made up of all sorts to agree (on a pause, rethink, educate, and re-engage with the public even if that means delaying the CRL by up to 5 years) (when only two of us at that table plus Councillor Wood knew what the CRL was and how it worked) :D

Blowing ones trumpet aside for a moment

Please do accept my apologies however if I appear what is the word I am looking for here – I will think of it later – not enough coffees yet :P but myself and some of my work colleagues are coming to the conclusion that AKL is coming close to a whisker of losing the CRL regardless of Len stumps up with Chinese Money to bankroll the entire operation.

Time to sell the CRL benefits to the public and turn the 2 out of 12 knowing into 12/12 knowing :)


Basically sums my feelings in a nutshell on the CRL to date.

It is time for the private citizen to stand up and take over where Council and the bureaucracy have failed in marketing the CRL in a meaningful manner to and for Auckland. Having the private ratepayer undertaking a marketing campaign could give the spark to kick-start Council in getting  a wriggle on with the CRL and putting out accurate information – not misinformation that is prevalent.

You can only have a fair and true discussion once all the facts are known and on the table – anything else is Heresy!


The Forum on the LTP Yesterday

Attended the Long Term Plan Forum (and a mention in the NZ Herald)


So I attended the Auckland Council Forum on the Draft Long Term Plan yesterday morning. I was a tad late with the accident at Baldwin Avenue Rail Station (doozy cyclist – two tracks means TWO TRAINS) delaying my Southern Line train but I made it none the less and was seated with 11 others at Councillor George Wood’s table (sorry Mike maybe next time 😉 ).

The session which ran from 9:30-12pm with a coffee break in-between covered two major topics with a general session at the end of it. The topics were: Rates and Finance, and Transport (what my submission had mainly covered) and boy my table was a formidable one with seasoned campaigners. We also had Bernard Orsman from the NZ Herald present for the entire session with him writing up a report which I will comment on soon. In fact I recommend you read the actual Herald article, Bernard sums up the session quite nicely and saves me duplicating material.

As for me I went into bat and covered three areas of concern:

  1. Council Debt (as mentioned by Bernard Orsman)
  2. The City Rail Link
  3. The Port of Auckland Question


Now through the session we had guest councillors at the table: Christine Fletcher, Penny Webster (chair of the Strategy and Finance Committee which is overseeing the LTP process), Sandra Coney, and Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse. So needless to say we had some movers and shakers visiting the table! I even got a quick face-to face introduction to Councillor Dick Quax (sorry I use titles in VOAKL post for people in official positions) during the coffee break – so both of us know each other quite literally know 😛 .

Now despite the limitations of the forum style setting compared to the traditional style which I presented my Auckland Plan and City Centre Master Plan submissions; I got my points home (and even a mention in the Herald), got Council to go check out Municipal Utility Districts as an alternative to Developers Contributions, and was given reassurances from our Deputy Mayor that my Port of Auckland Question will be answered! I was given the reassurance that a wide body made up of Local Government Authorities, the respective Ports in the North Island, industry, business, logistics, Kiwi Rail and even Central Government were conducting a thorough review of Port operations in the North Island including the possibility relocating Port of Auckland. I was given further reassurance that the community will be consulted in due time of the Port of Auckland Question – to which I will be submitting on when that time comes. I am not going to miss the opportunity of a life time with all my work on this project done so far and upcoming with Port of Auckland – that is for sure! Mind you I now await this review to see what comes up and whether we get excited or royally pissed-off and an opportunity that could be winner or simply blown…

Now as for the forum itself (before I go onto the Herald article); it was a new exercise for me after being use to traditional style hearings. There were both positives and negatives but in the end experience wise I gave it a thumbs up – however for my particular submission I would give it a thumbs down (which I will explain in a moment).

The Positives:

  1. With a group of diverse people so hearing different view points
  2. Got to debate and discuss with those diverse people and opinions
  3. Learn the art of compromise and negotiation with your table
  4. Learn who these people are and their passions (they also did the same to me)
  5. Focused on two main areas: Finance and Transport (although I got the POAL question in and people talking including the Deputy Mayor) 

The Negatives

  1. Unable to go one-to-one with the Councillors as you could in a tradition hearing
  2. Time is always against you when its a table of 12

Further negative:

A person commented when I stated on Facebook I was off to the Forum yesterday (and a follow-up today) that my submission was not suited for the Forum style hearing – I will leave names out but these were the remarks including my replies:

The “forum” is not an ideal way to get across the important ideas and dat you have Ben Ross. Good luck… I suspect you’ll stand out from the crowd due to the effort you have put into your submission.

Well that happened in both accounts – it was hard to get points across (but I got them across and home) and I could say I stood out when I rose the Debt, MUD and POAL issues which got everyone talking on the table.


My reply:

Thanks XYZ. The forum today was interesting and a learning curve as well. I had a formidable table that was chaired by George Wood to which I thank 🙂 XYZ you were right in the forum not being idea in my particular case with my LTP submission, it would have been better served in front of a traditional hearing of the Council. Needless to say I did have some luck with development contributions and an alternative I presented. While I have no disrespect to the people of my table, I did honestly felt my submission was in a league of its own. The submitters on my table were mainly concerned with their patch while I was concerned with ALL of Auckland in my submission. Thus the forum I found while interesting it did not serve my submission well. If I could I would front up in front of the FULL Council, the Mayor and CEO and hammer my submission out that way. Never mind, I now await what comes out of this, full report at my blog tomorrow.

Well tomorrow is today and here is the blog post 😛

My reply also sums up what came out of yesterday. While it was a positive for the education/experience value in another matter entirely, submission wise it was a negative for the reason I stated above. I did feel frustrated that the table did get bogged down with “patch issues” and I was the sole voice (well had two others) for ALL OF AUCKLAND!

The final comment presented was:

 ‎Ben Ross maybe worth considering a deputation to Council, at the very least so they all hear your main points.


Now that is a thought worth considering – a deputation in front of the FULL Council and Mayor to hammer my submission home. Probably get locked into a debate with the Councillors and the Mayor but it is one way of getting crucial points home! Right time to go find out when the Governing Body is next up for a meeting.

As for the Herald article

As I said Bernard Orsman was at our table taking notes of the proceedings, his article can be found in the hyperlink above. As I also said I got a mention when I was hammering on about debt:

Another burning issue was the level of debt Mr Brown’s council is proposing and lifting the debt ceiling from 175 per cent of rates income to 275 per cent to pay for projects in the 10-year budget. Ben Ross, a new homeowner, found the figure of 275 per cent scary and wanted the Government to put strict instruments in place to control burgeoning council debt.

Fleeting but it’s there in the Paper – so I am happy there. I just noticed though this:

The informal budget hearings continue today and next week. The council is holding traditional hearings for larger groups starting on Friday.

Right that is enough to stir my to seek a deputation in front of the Governing Body – if larger groups get a Traditional Hearing, then I am going to go all out and present my case in front of the Full Council. So time to write a few emails to some Council secretaries.

So an interesting day yesterday by all accounts. Whether I do it again is another story 🙂 But I hammered my points home (despite the inherent difficulties with a forum-setting) and got Council to go investigate a few things, so a victory for me and VICTORY FOR AUCKLAND on those fronts.


Below was my Submission to the LTP (Link to Municipal Utility Districts are on page 10)

Life on city’s edge is no field of dreams – The Age

When Planning Can Go VERY WRONG

via Life on city’s edge is no field of dreams.


ON THEIR daily walks around their Point Cook housing estate, Stephanie Sikman and her son, Stefan, 4, kept seeing the same vacant lots. Months passed, but very little in Esperance Estate seemed to change. Where scores of new houses should have been rising, the land remained empty, leaving gaps like broken teeth in the streetscapes. In some parts of the subdivision, vacant sites sit in clusters of a half dozen or more, with residents left to stare out over fields of dirt and weeds.

Good lord what happened here at Point Cook. Usually when a sub-division goes down, houses and sometimes business go up but not here in Point Cook.

Nearly two years after developer LinksLiving transferred the first lots in Esperance to their new owners, nearly one-third of the estate is empty and undeveloped. And with nearly one in 10 properties in the subdivision recently listed for resale – a rate more than three times the city average – it could be years before Esperance is finished.

Hmm we nearly had that at Addison, Takanini where Stage One is fully complete; however Stages Two and Three are struggling along (building is happening but heck it is slow) and the land that was set out for a retirement village and local town centre seem to have gone back up for tender (the development was meant to have happened four years ago but the Global Financial Crisis would have seen to that). What is not helping Addison is more land has just opened up for seemingly more houses right in front of the Addison Development. Err unless my new Walters Road Park and Ride Rail Station is being built there, you might want to finish off Addison in its entirety first BEFORE I go build a rail spur down it instead 😀 😛

How what is happening at Addison is also happening at Point Cook:

At the time Esperance was sold off in mid-2009, the planned subdivision sat close to the far reaches of Melbourne’s urban edge. Several major new estates further on were already earmarked for future development or have since been brought to market. Mooted plans include a new suburb of 5800 people in Point Cook West.

Oh bugger and very much oh bugger when you have this:

The estate’s stalled progress is being blamed on a gap in planning laws that allows developers to sell land without setting limits on when owners must start or finish construction on their homes. Planning experts and industry lobbyists say the state government should consider setting more building controls on new subdivisions in light of Melbourne’s continuing problems with urban sprawl and housing affordability. Many developers set starting deadlines of one year or a finishing deadlines of two years to ensure a steady pace of construction and set a de facto completion time for the project. But LinksLiving set no time constraints over when – or even whether – owners in Esperance have to build. LinksLiving spokesman Ron Smith declined to comment on this decision despite repeated requests from The Sunday AgeIndustry insiders say subdivisions with loose building controls are attractive to speculators who hope to ”bank” and then sell land for a profit without any obligation to build.

Now here is a paradox, Melbourne seems to be heading for the Worst of Both Worlds with its shoddy planning, Housing Unaffordability coupled with urban sprawl issues and over-supply of housing? What gives here? Must go dig up those Macro Business Economic posts on Melbourne’s sad state of real estate to see what is going on here.

‘The other estates in the [Point Cook] area looked finished, they look established. Why is there so much vacant land in Esperance? It comes down to the fact there are no limits like in other estates,” he argues. Paul Ciprian, project director with Oliver Hume, says there is ”nothing surprising” about developers selling land this way and it was made clear to buyers there were no deadlines over Esperance. ”All the buyers at Esperance, those who have built and haven’t built, they’ve all purchased under the same guidelines,” he says. Ciprian also argues that the slowdown seen in the new homes market and the wider slump in the Melbourne property market are delaying the building plans of investors and owner-occupiers. Despite the tough trading conditions, developers continue to release new subdivisions in the Point Cook area and elsewhere, effectively ”leapfrogging” over estates such as Esperance that have been sold to individual buyers but are unfinished.

RMIT planning expert Michael Buxton argues that allowing land to sit empty, either by individuals or developers, is ”socially undesirable” as it encourages speculation, increases urban sprawl and stresses infrastructure and services.

”Governments could easily overcome it by introducing new planning requirements or owners could pay a prohibitive tax on land withheld from construction outside of a reasonable time,” he says.

Time for a trip to Melbourne after Marsden City to see HOW NOT TO CONDUCT OUR PLANNING when Auckland starts on its 400,000 new houses and supporting infrastructure (including employment centres) anyone? This kind of mistake in Melbourne can not be made here – it would cost Auckland dearly for decades to come. So lets see if Auckland can learn from Melbourne’s misfortunes!

Concerns about lax planning controls and land speculation are likely to intensify as the Baillieu government tackles the problems of housing affordability and population growth by opening vast swaths of new land on the city’s fringe to development. At the time Esperance was sold off in mid-2009, the planned subdivision sat close to the far reaches of Melbourne’s urban edge. Several major new estates further on were already earmarked for future development or have since been brought to market. Mooted plans include a new suburb of 5800 people in Point Cook West.

A growing chorus of complaints from residents, councils and planning experts have highlighted the failure of infrastructure and services to meet the demands of the development and population growth in the city’s west.

Wyndham City Council, which has claimed its resources are being severely strained by this pace of growth, charges higher rates on vacant land to ensure these owners make an ”equitable financial contribution” to the city’s services and infrastructure.

”At present, this system is considered effective and no further measures are necessary,” chief executive Kerry Thompson says.

Again something Auckland needs to watch as it apparent Melbourne has not done it right – with the GFC also compounding matters. I do have an idea though for infrastructure development with new Greenfield development sites. It can be found HERE and its called Municipal Utility Districts – something Melbourne and Auckland should try. A further proposal can be found in my submission to the Draft Auckland Plan in regards to land use.

Again hopefully Auckland can learn from Melbourne’s mistakes.

My Submission

Auckland Council Chief Planner Has a Moment



It seems that Auckland Council Chief Planning Officer – Dr Roger Blakeley had a moment or rather lapse of judgement and wrote in his Council Official capacity to the New Zealand Herald. This is what Dr Blakeley wrote:

This was the article he referring to: Compact city a blurred vision

And this was the reply from Councillor Dick Quax:

FB Transcript

Now I have often called Councillor Quax out especially on his anti-rail stance, however and as you will see in my Values page (under development at the moment), I will work with (often quite happily) with those who are opposite to me. In this case Quax is a conservative where I am a liberal 🙂

Meaning I agree with what Councillor Quax and Nigel Turnball (in his reply to Quax’s thread) have said in Dr Blakeley’s “moment.” Blakeley should have not embarked on a letter writing exercise like that, if he believed if there was misrepresentation in the Herald opinion piece then I am sure Council in its official and actual capacity as OUR representatives and policy makers.

I personally do not take kindly to mistakes like that from such a senior bureaucrat who should know better. As a result I call on Council to pass a reprimand Dr Blakeley for his letter to the editor – as someone said he can always run for public office if he is not happy with Council Policy. The good Doctor is an advisor and executioner of Council policy – not the public voice of conscious for that is what we have Councillors for.

Dr Blakeley – stick to your knitting please

Fletcher Building has a Moment

Urban Development Sustains Growth and Jobs – Not Convention Centres


Oh my seems Fletcher Building has gotten on the Sky Centre (Private) Convention Centre Bandwagon. Lets take a look at the article in the Weekend Herald shall we:

The building and logo of SKYCITY Auckland, Auc...
The building and logo of SKYCITY Auckland, Auckland City, New Zealand, as seen looking south-westward. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The building sector is “on its knees” and an international convention centre could be its saviour, according to the boss of New Zealand’s largest building business.

Jonathan Ling, Fletcher Building chief executive, confirmed Government estimates that 1000 jobs would be created in putting up a proposed $350 million, 3500-seat Hobson St centre and these would easily run three to four years with trades people and professionals earning around $40,000 to $200,000 a year.

The Government says SkyCity‘s centre would generate $85 million a year in tourism spending, employ 1000 people during construction and create 800 jobs when the doors open.

Mr Ling outlined huge benefits in manufacturing and installing products, and employing subcontractors to put up the centre, which he said would flow through the entire economy at a time when house-building was at a 50-year low, state sector work had dried up and many private developers had left the market.“The construction sector is on its knees, there’s no work. It’s just Wiri and Waterview and apart from that, the jobs aren’t very big,” he said, referring to the $300-million new prison confirmed this year and the $1.3 billion motorway connection, $400 million of which is Fletcher’s.


Now there is no denying our Construction Sector is a little worse for wear at the moment with building levels at  some pretty low levels. However this convention centre I am wondering if it just a band-aid building sector wise despite the hundreds of jobs promised. What I am getting at after the three years of building this new Sky City Convention Centre (politics of the affair I am not interested in here) then what – back to square one as Councils and Central Government continue to focus on debt reduction (Auckland Council – well yeah…) and won’t be spending up on large sustained projects any time soon (apart from the Holiday Highway).

What we need for the building sector that is also a win for Auckland is sustained urban development over the next thirty years (the life of The Auckland Plan) that will keep the building sector going and fuel the economy with downstream benefits on the way. There are some large projects coming up on the blocks such as the City Rail Link in the CBD that will give great sector boosters, but in the end we need sustained growth that keeps the building sector thus economy humming away at a nice rate of knots.

Building enough dwellings for two million residents, plus supporting infrastructure, commercial and industrial businesses over thirty years would provide countless jobs and inject billions back into our sluggish economy just on the monetary front. Further boosters can be applied through these mega projects as well (some planned, others ideas):

  1. City Rail Link
  2. Port of Auckland Relocation
  3. The Auckland Water-Frontier
  4. The Eastern Highway
  5. Completion of the Cross-City Rail Network

Urban development and the mega-projects mentioned above sustain jobs and economic development Mr Ling, not one-off Convention Centres which are “nice-to-haves.” Priority Absolute Number One for our Construction Centre needs to be for our residents and businesses who are both struggling in the affordability and performance sector. I think people who are struggling to buy their own house due to lack of suitable houses and businesses looking for land to develop freely on comes before Convention Centres – our own first please folks. Council will free up the land and development hurdles (it will…), we just need the Builders ready to rock and roll and do their part in allowing Auckland to realise its goal:  To accommodate employment and economic activity in supporting a healthy social and physical environment for over two million residents by 2040. In doing so The Plan has to follow the objective of being: Simple, Efficient, Thrifty, and restoring Affordability to residents and businesses while still making Auckland ‘The Most Livable City.’

Mr Ling, I would encourage Fletcher Building to be working with Council in getting our urban development underway; 400,000 new dwelling need to be built rather soon and that should sustain your books for a few decades to come. So how about we focus on home first and our own citizens before going abroad…

Building those 400,00 new dwelling would life the building sector from its knees – for a very long time to come


Hearing Monday

Hearing on my Draft Long Term Plan Submission – This Monday


Right, unlike my Local Board and Auckland Transport (who like to lose things in the mail) I have my hearing (well forum) that I can actually attend too on Monday 23rd April for my submission to The Draft Long Term Plan.

Although unlike my Draft Auckland Plan and Draft City Centre Master Plan which was held in a traditional hearing format (you and around 6-12 Councillors listening and asking questions), this LTP hearing is in a forum type of setting.

It goes something a bit like this according to the email I got:

Auckland Council would like to thank you for submitting on the Draft long-term Plan and for making the time to attend this regional hearing forum and to share your views with us. This format is a new method of engaging with the community and we are excited that you will be a part of it. 

The hearing forum will have discussion tables staffed by a facilitator, note taker and at least one of the councillors who sit on the Strategy and Finance Committee. There will also be one subject matter expert at each table.  Everyone at the table will be given an opportunity to speak.  

Your feedback will be recorded and summarised for the panel’s deliberations. At the end of the session, facilitators will summarise key issues captured during the workshop discussion and feed this back to the group. 

Please note, that due to the structure of this format, it will not be possible to accommodate presentations or technology. Also, panel members have been provided copies of all submissions and you can be assured they have read your submission prior to your attendance at the forum


Well this is interesting – a group session where I have to share the “floor” (well table) with some other members of the public and one Councillor. While I don’t mind groups – this kind of situation is not ideal and I hope the table facilitator can “chair” strongly so the group does not go off-topic or get drowned out by a noisy “me-me-me” person. Then again this kind of session also serves as a good training and experience gainer situation for me on the way out – so least I get a positive out of this experience.

Now the question is which Councillor will I get – I am taking volunteers then victims if no one puts their hand up. Just kidding – I will get who I get come Monday (be damn funny if I got Cllr Mike Lee – probably need the riot squad between the pair of us if Rates, Debt, The Eastern Highway (now there is an idea for the wind-up value) or Port of Auckland gets brought up).

I will cover two things in my forum on Monday to which I will be hitting it home to the Councillor and “Subject-Matter Expert:”

  1. Rates and Debt (my primary point)
  2. Either Port of Auckland Question or Urban Development especially in Southern Auckland (could actually tie the two together seeming Southern Auckland has high unemployment)

So all go for Monday – time to hit the final points home before 2013

Here is my Submission to the Draft Long Term Plan


The Auckland Water-Frontier #2

3D – Rendering Under-way

Right I have begun the first 3D renderings (although I have imported the cruise ships 😉 ) on The Auckland Water-Frontier. Basically I have laid down the major roads, placed the Primary and Secondary Cruise Terminals, imported a few cruise ship models themselves to give relative-to-scale; and the basic out-line of The Auckland Water-Frontier Hotel – a 10 storey (35 metre high) hotel down on the Water-Front. I even managed to do a quick mock-up of a bridge linking The Water-Frontier to Quay Boulevard (currently Quay Street).

So time for some pictures of where I am so far:

Cruise ship wise, I am basically doubling current capacity for Auckland. Both terminals hold two ships each with The Primary Terminal capable of holding a ship as large as the MS Freedom of the Seas (world’s second biggest cruiser) (after some dredging (draught is 8.3m on this particular cruiser)) with Customs Processing, Servicing Facilities and a Transit Bay provided in the Terminal to handle effectively two boats offloading or loading 3,634 passengers and 1,300 crew each (that is per boat the size of the MS Freedom of the Seas) – so 9,400 passengers and crew in grand total can be processed. The Secondary Terminal has the same as the Primary Terminal but would handle ships around half that size and half the amount of people as you would expect on the Primary Terminal.

The Water-Frontier Hotel would have the capacity similar to the Hilton Hotel on Princess Wharf and would be a premier hotel in Auckland.

Next in the renderings I should be able to finish the basic building out lines and all the roads and bridges, before moving onto some micro-detailing such as parks at the end. After that then its trying to lobby Council on a bold idea for Auckland’s Waterfront 😛 😀 !

Let’s see how this goes shall we.

A New City – Marsden Point City

Marsden Pt city work will create 440 jobs – Property – NZ Herald News.

It must be the Sim City in me that has me fascinated with all things planning and urban development. Then again I did create this “work-in-progress” monster called Solaria with 3.7 million sims and due to hold 5 million sims upon completion by the time Sim City 5 comes out next year:

Solaria at 3.8 million sims

Still working on the city as I finish off The Core, Auckland District and start on the low density sprawl and rural hamlets that would form the outer reaches of this mega city. If anyone is interested – the transport system has its merits such as it takes 75 minutes to cross one end of the map to the other by car (half by High Speed Rail), and the inner city is known as a Walking City as 85% of sims in the area (which houses 55% of the total population of the “region”) either walk or take public transport – the rest of the region is mixed either at 50:50 or car dominated (outer fringes). However the Highway system is incomplete in The Core (bad planning – oops) and thoroughfare connections are missing in some places – oh well.

For something opposite to the mega-city I do have Neo Solaria which I started on this year:

Neo Solaria

Set in the Western Bay of Plenty topography, Neo Solaria is my final SC4 city before SC5 is due out next year. Neo Solaria is planned to hold 4 million sims and will be developed as a final form from Solaria. Meaning Solaria has been developed over nine years with very distinct planning changes over the nine years. Solaria is basically one big planning experiment on different planning ideas I have learned over time – while Neo Solaria will take the best of all the learning over that nine years and be applied in the new mega city.

Both cities however I deem organic with their intensification, sprawl and ad-hoc development as I have never been a fan of the Master Plan City whether everything is planned and built down to the last detail. Essentially I lay down the infrastructure, parks and civic structures (fire, police, education, medical), lay out the zones and left “forces” do the rest without my intervening hand (much). Urban renewal is often automatic (market driven in the real world) although there are times where I did lead urban renewal efforts from time to time (the Capital District was the main one). Those who have read my submission should be able to draw the line from my submission to my SC4 works.  And for those who are really concerned, my extensive mass transit system actually makes a profit overall while delivering a first class service (well we get overcrowding on some lines) – but essentially the way I lay the transit system it was done in tandem with any development (or “designated” to be built later but the route was available – much like the land for the South West Rail Line following State Highway 20 from Onehunga to Avondale) rather than AFTER THE FACT as seen often in Auckland and soon to be in Christchurch.

Now after all that – the Herald article at hand. The piece about Marsden “City” due to be built near Marsden Point caught my attention. Check this ouit:

North Holdings is creating a mixture of commercial and residential development spread over 135ha within the existing Northgate and Port Marsden industrial estates Company director Oliver Scott said work on the development of a mixed-use town centre comprising about 765,000sq m of land area was expected to start within six months. He said commercial and industrial buildings would probably lead the construction, followed by residential units. Stage one of the development will include 22,000sq m of retail space and 20,000sq m of other commercial activity, 250 residential house lots, 150 apartments above retail and a variety of industrial uses. The development is part of the Whangarei District Council‘s structure plan which allows for 60,000sq m of net floor area for retail and 82,000sq m for non-retail commercial use.

There can be up to 2200 residential units. Choices for residential living include detached houses, attached town-houses, terraced housing and apartments, with most around a large neighbourhood park. A variety of urban parks, as well as pedestrian and cycle facilities, would be developed over 5ha. Scott said new zoning would also allow for retirement living and educational facilities. Another company, TR Developments, plans to construct a university and residential apartments close to North Holdings’ project.

Yes my mouth is watering over this, especially when you get these benefits:

He said Northland’s economy would get a huge boost from the project, together with a $500 million refinery expansion announced by Refining New Zealand which would create more than 350 jobs. “There’s the [Marsden] port, good climate, nice beaches and the Hoppers marine development as well and there’s every likelihood that North Port will continue to expand and very easily pick up business from Auckland.”

And the good news is:

Whangarei District Council and the Environment Court have given North Holdings, the company spearheading the move, the all-clear.

As well as some forward planning seen here:

Roading and other infrastructure were largely in place, he said, but North Holdings would need to upgrade Casey Rd as the centre’s main street and to carry out additional landscaping. “The main thing is we now have certainty the project will happen, it’s just a matter of when. It has all the hallmarks of long-term sustainable development,” Scott said. He is encouraging job-generating businesses to move into the area. The entire project will take between 15 and 20 years to complete.

North Holdings has spent $75 million developing infrastructure at the Northgate industrial park over several years.

I will be watching this project very carefully – as it might teach Auckland a few things on urban development ESPECIALLY when it seems it is privately rather than council led (much like my submission calls for (Private Led through the SLPD scheme I proposed)). To be honest I would not mind going up to Marsden Point and meeting the brainchild or rather brainchildren of this scheme because I would like to see this work for Manukau and Papakura – especially if I can get POAL to move to South East Auckland!     The only thing that needs to be done is for Kiwi Rail to build the Marsden Point Spur Line to connect Marsden Point and Marsden City to the North Auckland Line to allow a full rail connection from Marsden back to Auckland (oh and an upgrade to the NAL as well).

Auckland Council should be kicking themselves here for not taking a trip up north to check out this development. Tell you what – if I was ever on Auckland Council one of my first missions would be (after setting up the office and holding some constituent meetings) to visit Marsden City and see how it was done and how it can be adapted for Auckland! No need to go overseas when we have a masterpiece right HERE on our own door step!

My SLPD Idea as in my Submission to The Auckland Plan

Confounding Us with New-Speak?

Smart Growth and The New Newspeak |


Interesting piece – I like the photo the best though as it applies both to that situation and macro-urban planning. Planners will go down one route while the “public” goes down the other… One of life’s greatest ironies there and there.

Not too sure I agree on the article myself – however I did come away with further equipping myself from this situation:

It’s a given in our representative system that policies adopted into law should have popular support. However, there is a distinction to be made between adopting a policy consistent with what a majority of people want, and pushing a policy while making dubious claims that it harnesses “the will of the people.”
The former is a valid exercise in democracy; the latter is a logical fallacy. Smart Growth advocates are among the most effective practitioners of Argumentum ad Populum, urging everyone to get on the bandwagon of higher densities, compact mixed-uses, and transit orientation because all the “cool cities” are doing it.

Smart Growth advocates also claim this is what people prefer, even if it is not how they currently live. The two core features of Smart Growth land use — high densities and multi-family dwellings — are simply not preferred by most Americans in most places, despite the trendy push for Livability, New Urbanism, Resilient Cities, Smart Codes, Traditional Neighborhood Design, Transit Oriented Developments or any other euphemistic, clever name currently in fashion.

Probably because we see it here in Auckland both the “will of the people” and “Newspeak” fronts – fronts being led from the Centre-Left Auckland Councillors and the Planning Bureaucracy of Auckland Council. At least if we are aware of the weapons used by the Smarth Growth and New Urbanism Factions, those who are more inclined to the freedom of choice, liberal and (semi) decentralisation approach can adapt and fight back. Remember the goal I like to see for Auckland:

The Auckland Plan should have One Goal: To accommodate employment and economic activity in supporting a healthy social and physical environment for over two million residents by 2040. In doing so The Plan has to follow the objective of being: Simple, Efficient, Thrifty, and restoring Affordability to residents and businesses while still making Auckland ‘The Most Liveable City.’

…Is very different to the proponents of Smart Growth and what is in the final version of The Auckland Plan. The Auckland Plan does seem to be like the picture in the article linked; Planners sending us down that path while Auckland goes down that other “own-made” path. I wonder of the Bureaucracy and Council will learn quick enough before being left behind…



Lets Not Try and Give the Stalinist’s Ideas HERE Please

California Declares War on Suburbia II: The Cost of Radical Densification |

Professor Wendell Cox gives yet another brilliant analysis of California (as the article says) declaring war on suburbia. Check this out for the opening paragraph of Professor Cox’s article:

California’s determination to virtually outlaw new detached housing. The goal is clear:    force most new residents into multi-family buildings at 20 and 30 or more to the acre. California’s overly harsh land use regulations had already driven housing affordability from fairly typical levels to twice and even three times higher than that of much of the nation. California’s more recent tightening of the land use restrictions (under Assembly Bill 32 and Senate Bill 375) has been justified as necessary for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Good lord, if you need to go get a drink after reading that – or a cloth to wipe the screen of your spat out coffee then feel free to do it now (I nearly had too).

Right back with us?

What Cox opened with was some pretty powerful stuff – powerful as it seriously erodes freedom of choice (and responsibility) that America was built on.

The rest of the article is pretty self-explanatory and follows on to another post from New Geography titled: “SMART GROWTH AND THE NEW NEWSPEAK”  which has a canny resemblance here in Auckland with the adoption of The C- Grade Auckland Plan last month by Auckland Council. I hope though California does not give our Leftie Stalinist’s on Auckland Council any wise ideas for where to send Auckland down…

Now if one is wondering how California relates to us then check this chest nut I leaked earlier in the year about where Auckland’s Smart Growth could end up – which is still a very high possibility even with the ratio at the 60:40 Brownfield:Greenfield urban development split.

That Intensification Report