Tag: Australia

Planning Tweet of the Day

From our Australian Cousins


This from the Planning Institute of Australia who are holding a very large planning conference in Sydney right now:


So true and something Auckland would like to note.

You can keep tabs on the PIA Congress either through http://www.piacongress.com.au/ or via Twitter @pia_planning


Record Month for the Blog

NZ Blog Rankings Out

And the Open Parachute NZ blog rankings for May are out. Talking Auckland (formally BR:AKL) took 46th place for the month on the back of strong Unitary Plan coverage.

From Open Parachute:

May ’13 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking

46 Ben Ross: Auckland 4766 7815

It all seems we had plenty to talk about with the Unitary Plan – now closed for this round of feedback with BR:AKL leading the charge on the commentary from Day One (even while in Australia).

A massive thanks to the readers and those who commented. Big shout outs to Generation Zero, ATB, Russell Brown at Public Address and Metro Magazine for keeping the sanity and balance in the Unitary Plan commentary.

With the Unitary Plan to one-side and a hot topic issue now died down for now, it is a case of what next. There does not seem to be many things as “sexy” as the UP that stirs the passion of the city. While I will cover the 2013 Elections and resume coverage on transport and Port of Auckland, I ask the readers what are you looking for or want covered between now and the next round of Unitary Plan submissions (the formal notification).

Although again folks no I am not running for a Council seat on Auckland Council. My apologies there for this round. 2016 however – well I won’t rule that out 😉

Drop a comment below or leave an email.


Admin to Talking Auckland


Talking Auckland: Blog of TotaRim Consultancy Limited

TotaRim Consultancy
Bringing Well Managed Progress to Auckland and The Unitary Plan

Auckland: 2013 – YOUR CITY, YOUR CALL

Submission Sent

105 Pages and The Room Smelling of Toner Later


Finally after 28 days (I was in Australia for part of the Unitary Plan feedback process) my submission to the first part of the Unitary Plan is in with Council.

You can see the feedback below which still only covered a select area of the UP. I have filed different submissions at different stages however on other aspects of the Unitary Plan including:

  • Parking Regulations
  • Transport
  • Social Infrastructure
  • Social Development
  • Water
  • Planning methodologies (although again mentioned in this submission)


I must apologies in advance in regards to my submission. As I imported blog posts from here into the submission, some ease of reading aspects might have been lost. All commentary on the Unitary Plan can be found here: https://voakl.net/category/planning/urban-planning-and-design/unitary-plan/

And so where next?

Unitary Plan coverage will continue although at a lesser pace until the next round begins – most likely notification later this year.

But other areas requiring commentary have come up such as Port of Auckland, my favourite – Auckland Transport, and now the elections.

A massive thank you to my readers throughout the Unitary Plan process. The UP has not been easy nor without its controversies. But pressure will continue Council as the UP and Rural Urban Boundary go through their next phases.

My Submission


Talking Auckland: Blog of TotaRim Consultancy Limited

TotaRim Consultancy
Bringing Well Managed Progress to Auckland and The Unitary Plan

Auckland: 2013 – YOUR CITY, YOUR CALL



And I am Back

Back from Australia


Hello readers


Update: And both Bekka and I are back in Auckland after two weeks away in Australia. Was a great time away and the credit card was not damaged that much after “contributing” to the Aussie economy. Early night tonight and back into things slowly from tomorrow

Colonel Hogan and Hypotenuse are all well too and glad to see us back




I am at Sydney Airport waiting to board my flight home. It has been a good time away in Aussie relaxing and contributing to the Aussie economy – although I am not going to like the credit card bill next month

BR:AKL will be partially back tomorrow as I complete the photo dumps into the blog and back at full capacity on Monday with commentary to resume on transport and the Unitary Plan.

So hang tight folks til Monday

Although from messages received while away it seems that Auckland needs its backside either kicked or saved again.

Then again in Aussie politics the ALP with Gillard at the helm are buggered…


February Blog Rankings Out

BR:AKL Continues Improvement in Ranks


Open Parachute has released their February 2013 New Zealand Blog Rankings. You can find the complete list over at “February ’13 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking” which is compiled by Open Parachute at the beginning of a new month.


This is where BR:AKL is for February 2013:

73 Ben Ross: Auckland 1987 3040


Checking back through Sitemeter February was the blog’s third best month with growth tracking well since December. This month I will be in Australia (Sydney and Brisbane) for two weeks so there will be slight interruption in commentary (plenty of holiday snaps will be uploaded however 😀 ) in Auckland issues as well as me missing the launch of the draft Unitary Plan. However as we draw closer to the elections at the end of the year BR:AKL will be for sure keeping an eye on candidates seeking our votes. Work on BR:AKL projects like the Alternative Unitary Plan, and Southern Auckland Future Growth plans will also continue; as well as keeping Auckland Transport “honest” and pushing for feedback on Sky-Path.


So a big shout out and thanks to all the readers (and commenters) at BR:AKL. Without you the blog would not be possible


Oh and I do not run the blog out of a basement as Open Parachute’s picture would suggest 😛 . The main computer is actually in the living room where I can survey the entire property as well as having the phone and tablet at hand when out in the field. However changing the world – well yeah, one more step at a time 😀



Shining The Light – To a Better Papakura (OUR home)
To a Better Auckland – (OUR City)

Auckland 2013: YOUR CITY – YOUR CALL


From Sitemeter

This Year's Visits and Page Views by Month

Note: Please check Open Parachute’s FAQ section on discrepancies between the above figures and the figures in their automated table

Wary on PPPs

Proceed With Caution On PPP’s


Based on Australian Experience



I love Brisbane and am going back there for a holiday in the middle of March. Brisbane is my second home and where I lived for two years as part of my err “gap-year.” Brisbane is also similar in some respects to Auckland in regards to its civic structure, urban fabric, transportation systems, and political stupidity in investing in the wrong project.

Now I did just say political stupidity – and why is that? Check these two pieces from NZ and Brisbane on Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) not delivering as they were meant to:


First from the NZ Herald:

Stephen King: PPPs need better ways to handle risk

5:30 AM Tuesday Feb 26, 2013

As another toll road in Australia fails, what is the future for public-private partnerships?


Instead of taking traffic off congested suburban roads, high tolls may mean too few cars use the toll road. Photo / APN

Is there a future for privately funded toll roads? BrisConnections has been placed into administration only seven months after opening the Brisbane Airport Link toll road/tunnel. It has not had sufficient users to make the project viable. So what does this mean for future public-private partnerships (PPPs)?

In the short term, it will mean very little. The citizens of Brisbane have a great tunnel that (from my experience) cuts significant time off a trip to the airport. The investors have done their dough. And there may be various lawsuits about who misled whom.

However, this is the fourth in a series of PPP toll road failures, including Sydney’s Lane Cove and Cross City tunnels, and Brisbane’s Clem7. If PPPs are to have a future, we need better ways to handle the project risk.

The risk associated with large infrastructure projects can be significant. For toll roads, the viability of a project depends on projections of future traffic flows. But these flows may be highly variable, depending on a range of choices by the government and car users


You can read the rest over at the Herald website


Now what Mr King was referring to in regards to PPP failure and by virtual extension political stupidity in Brisbane is this Brisbane Times piece I Facebooked not so long ago:

From Brisbane Times:

Airport Link in administration

Date February 19, 2013 Bridie Jabour

Brisbane’s Airport Link tunnel has gone into voluntary administration. Photo: Harrison Saragossi


The $4.8 billion Airport Link tunnel has been placed into voluntary administration.

In an announcement to ASX, tunnel’s operator BrisConnections said the company had decided to place the tunnel into administration citing low traffic levels and debts worth more than the tunnel.

The board of BrisConnections entered negotiations in November to restructure the tunnel’s debt but on Monday night, the board was told lenders were not prepared to support any of the restructure proposals.

The latest traffic figures show an average of 47,802 vehicles using the 6.7 kilometre Airport Link each day, about half of the original forecasts which had daily traffic of 90,000 vehicles.

BrisConnection conceded in the ASX statement that an extensive marketing and phased-in toll regime had failed to attract enough traffic but Non-Executive Chairman Trevor Rowe was still positive about the future of the tunnel.

‘‘It’s disappointing that the board has to reach this decision,’’ he said.

‘‘The AiportlinkM7 is unquestionably a world class piece of transport infrastructure that will continue to support Brisbane’s growth into the decades ahead.’’

BrisConnections was placed into a trading halt in November and two board directors resigned after a dismal report to the ASX on Airport Link.

In the report, the company admitted for the first time the tunnel’s debt might be more than its value and a research analyst said at the time the most likely option for the Airport Link was to put it up for sale.

The tunnel had a toll free period which ended in October last year with traffic forecasts falling tens of thousands of vehicles short even when the ride was free.

The costs of building Airport Link blew out so much for construction company Leighton Holdings that it contributed to them posting a yearly loss of more than $200 million which has been turned around to a $450 million profit since it handed over the tunnel and its other high profile troubled project, the Victorian desalination plant.

Airport Link was opened in July 2012 and connects Brisbane’s northern suburbs with Brisbane’s CBD and the airport, the Clem7 and the Inner City Bypass.

The tunnel will remain open and available to users as normal.

Airport Link is the second Brisbane tunnel to financially collapse with the operator of Clem7, RiverCity Motorway Group, going into receivorship in November with $1.3 billion worth of debts.

News of Airport Link’s collapse forced Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk to defend Brisbane City Council‘s decision to push ahead with the city’s third toll tunnel, the $1.5 billion Legacy Way tunnel

Read more: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/airport-link-in-administration-20130219-2eope.html#ixzz2M2OKsOiE



The Brisbane saga should sound a warning to both Central Government who are ploughing on with the Wellington Transmission Gully Motorway – which is a PPP (the Herald article above mentions the risks of that as well) and our Auckland Council if we consider PPPs for some of our larger projects including the City Rail Link.


I have called for a PPP with the City Rail Link with our public authorities handing the tunnel construction and maintenance, while having private companies operate the stations for say 50 years providing they get the rights for urban development (including sky rights) in the immediate vicinity of stations as part of a wider investment program. Now I know in Tokyo’s railway has stations that are built and run by companies basically on behalf of the rail metro line and in the same token have developed often impressive complexes of residential, commercial office and commercial services (retail, malls, hotels) above and around the said station.

These impressive complexes allow the Tokyo authorities to share some of the costs of rail metro line station building with private companies in return for pretty much guaranteed patronage due to the urban complexes built above and around the stations.

So there are cases where PPPs for in this case with Tokyo – rail can work. This could be a very good example for Auckland to follow-up on when the CRL is being built. However the Brisbane and Transmission Gully Wellington Road PPP projects (go figure – I said roads) are also examples on what NOT to do with PPPs.


So Auckland (including AT and Council) still have a long and hard road ahead in plausible financial planning for some of our larger mega-projects like the much needed City Rail Link. On one side it could go extremely wrong and bankrupt the city, on the other we get an golden opportunity for a needed transit link and some actual world class urban renewal in our grey and drab CBD!


Food for thought