Space and density: Auckland Unitary Plan

Written By: - Date published: 10:15 am, April 22nd, 2013 - 8 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, climate change, housing, infrastructure, national, public transport, sustainability - Tags:

The draft Auckland Unitary Plan is a massive (and impressive) collection of documents, and is hard for an Auckland lay person like me to get my head around.  One of the main elements of it, is that it focuses  perhaps incorrectly, on the presumed continuing growth of the Auckland region.

The AUP has opted for a compromise between intensification within existing urban boundaries and spread outwards into existing greenfields.  This is where there is a major conflict between the government, which wants to over-ride the AUP and enforce less density and more outward spread.  This completely ignores the unacceptable stress it will put on the Auckland infrastructure.  This is particularly the case given that Key, Nick Smith, Joyce et al have no intention of significantly improving the infrastructure. Such improvement requires a major development of public transport.

There is also tension between the government and some councillors who argue that the AUP is set to be implemented too quickly.  The government wants it to take 3 years, while the Auckland Council plans for it to begin this September. Some councillors like the “right leaning” Christine Fletcher are with the government on pressing for the AUP implementation to be delayed.

One of the main drivers of the urgency for implementation is the affordable housing crisis in Auckland.  The AUP on its own cannot fix this without support from the government. The government needs to put more focus on state and other forms of social housing.  However, I also can’t see why the Auckland Council couldn’t also implement some initiatives towards supporting more state housing, and community housing cooperatives.

Matt L on The Auckland Transport blog has a post untangling the complexities around the AUP on the issue of the quality of the “intensification” in the AUP.  It’s still pretty complex, but goes some way to helping the lay person understand the potential impacts of the AUP.  The post concludes,

Perhaps to summarise all this, it seems that the Unitary Plan is something of a “double edged sword” when it comes to intensification. It potentially allows a lot of growth and intensification, but it seems to set a really high bar in terms of requirements for a proposal to be consented while also requiring an unusually high proportion of developments to go through the consenting process. Generally I think this is an excellent approach: to say to developers that there’s a lot of potential here but to unlock that potential you’re going to need to build some great stuff.

Matt also refers to an article on Stuff that claims it’s mainly the older property owners and retirees in North Shore’s Milford area who are opposed to intensification   In contrast, some younger people are more for the intensification.  Generation Zeros, Dr Sudhvir Singh, campaigner on climate change and for  inter-generational justice, says:

I grew up watching our Torbay community unite over opposing sprawl into Long Bay and Okura,” he says.

“Opposing modest intensification in places like Milford and Glenfield will only drive this type of ugly, expensive, environmentally damaging sprawl as we need to accommodate one million additional Aucklanders over the next 30 years.”

“In general, younger people don’t want to be told to live on the urban fringe on a big section and want the choice of having a terraced house/apartment in a well located area that allows us to be close to work and our social life and removes the dependence on having a car.”

I’m for the intensification, glad it is proposed that there will be a high bar to intensification, and that, as indicated by Matt L, things like the Dwelling designs need to adress specifications for

  • Internal layout of dwellings
  • Outdoor living space
  • Communal outdoor living space

The Auckland Council website has lots of stuff on the draft AUP.  It includes guidance on making submissions.  It’s easier to focus on one locality of interest, than trying to make sense of the plan as a whole – at least initially. The Shape Auckland Blog is also useful.  On it I found this useful collection of videos.  It has links to videos of 3-D models that graphically show what the developments will possibly look like in areas across Auckland, over selected time periods in the future.  This is the video for Newmarket

It’s cool and helpful, but while it focuses on shape, it doesn’t help in visualising how social housing, including state housing, could fit in with the AUP.

8 comments on “Space and density: Auckland Unitary Plan”

  1. It is interesting Karol that out west there has been no significant concern with intensification. That is because this has been happening for years out here. The concept of intensification around the transport nodes has occurred for the past decade and you just have to go to the middle of New Lynn and Henderson to see what it looks like.

    The NIMBY attitude displayed in other parts of the city is predictable but unwarranted. And they do not understand.

    It will not be compulsory for there to be 6 or 8 story apartment blocks to spring up instantaneously. It will happen gradually and the areas earmarked for this sort of intensification are actually quite small.

    The RUB will actually try and restrict growth and will not make the significant increase in population easier.

    If we insist on maintaining current densities then Auckland could be twice as big in 30 years time. It will be a sprawling collection of sleeper suburbs and motorways eating into productive land and who knows what will happen when oil starts running out.

    Far better that we grow up in a controlled way than sprawl indiscriminately.

    • karol 1.1

      Yes, the sprawl is to be avoided. Many people I know already see the problem with commuting as the city has grown and sprawled.

      I have heard some concerns in New Lynn, but it is largely from the older home owning residents – similar to the situation in Milford as quoted in my post.

  2. freedom 2

    In any growing city, and let us be honest about it, Auckland is only a large city in geographical greed. Globally, it is still a very small city in terms of population. Regardless of these realities, or even in spite of them, Auckland does have numerous advantages when facing the challenges of development and sustainability.

    Food production and supply is a hugely overlooked and dangerously misrepresented consideration. It constantly gets put in the too hard basket and conventional processes and solutions are allowed to remain unchanged. I wonder if during the planning process there has been any thought at all put to the concept of vertical farming? The Chicago project, for example, faces as many detractors as supporters yet there is a practical reality to the concept that urban planners have largely admitted they will eventually have to accept. So surely it is sensible to adopt and even lead this field sooner rather than later.

    In many ways we already do. One example is Conservation House, the award winning environmental design of the DOC building in Wellington offers solutions we can easily retask to food production. In this project many of the challenging environmental and architectural conditions for successful urban vertical farming are resolved. I would wager creating a successful vertical farm would be as simple as replacing the desks with vege racks. Obviously it is a little more complex but the fundamentals are all there. Some jigsaws only appear complex because of the picture that they represent.

    Aside from a lack of will (and the cartoon horror of Auckland looking to Wellington for an answer) I can think of no reason why NZ can not once again be a leader. Auckland is perfectly situated to develop proof of process for vertical farming in long term urban planning. Food is an increasingly complex factor in the ever critical equation of this malfunctioning unsustainable ever-expanding society we call Planet Earth.

    or put another way

    The list of problems is voluminous, and so are the opportunities. Like rail and alternative energy the options are there and the arguments against them are repetitive and largely based in myth and hypocrisy. Auckland is a perfect candidate for developing a blueprint of how to transition from a glaring example of gross failure in long term planning and urban design to not being a glaring example of gross failure in long term planning and urban design. Do we want it to be is the only real question.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/22/farmedhere-nations-largest-vertical-farm_n_2933739.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vertical_farming
    http://motherboard.vice.com/read/this-vertical-farm-in-chicago-is-cool-but-can-it-really-be-the-future
    http://www.doc.govt.nz/publications/about-doc/news/conservation-house/

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      I would wager creating a successful vertical farm would be as simple as replacing the desks with vege racks.

      Nope, have to build in a hell of a lot of extra strength to the building to support all the added mass. An individual can pick up a desk, there’s no way an individual would be able to pick up a desk sized unit that contained all of the necessary stuff to support plants as well as the plants.

      Then there’s the light catchment that needs to be allowed for and other stuff that I haven’t thought of.

      • freedom 2.1.1

        Draco, obviously buildings for vertical farming would be structured to purpose, but the environmental attributes of Conservation House were the points of interest, not so much the construction method of that particular building (which was re-tasked and is not a new building). Light catchment for example is one of the main success stories of Conservation House. You only have to walk into the public foyer to understand that.

    • freedom 2.2

      http://edition.cnn.com/2012/06/08/world/asia/singapore-supertrees-gardens-bay
      Doesn’t our PM have all sorts of close relationships with Singapore
      Surely he can get us the inside scoop on this tech?

  3. I think there is a bigger picture here. To my mind the draft plan, which replaces more than 8 existing plans, is outstanding for its simple focus on the 2 key issues Auckland faces in the future. First is population growth, and making sure that the growth is contained mostly in high quality medium density dwellings, well connected to public transport and not sprawling. The second, and related matter, is climate change, which means sorting out coastal development, but also making sure energy sources are localised, resilient and carbon neutral. The plan seems to implicitly accept that physical growth is over. The focus is on retaining and improving the quality of what we have.

    That is not something that the current government accepts at all. That is I think why there is such a wrestling match over the Resource Management Reform Bill 2012 which sets out procedural issues such as the time to produce the section 32 report, when the plan gets to have some weight, how it gets heard and who makes decisions on it initially and the appeals process. They seem like technical issues, but the stakes could not be higher.

  4. Binders full of viper- women 4

    Isn’t the plan 7,000 pages long? What a fustercluck! If it is that long it must be full of gibberish designed to turn anyone off except a planning trainspotter. Can recommend a book- ‘Suburbanation: The Rise of Sprawl and Decline of the American Dream’. All about how unsafe and antisocial sprawl is and how the most popular places for people to live & visit have olde worlde charm= pedestrian friendly, not designed for cars, shared green spaces, thriving small shops. ie not any devp in NZ in the last 20 years.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Government caves to multi-national tax avoiders in the shadows
    News that the Government has secretly caved in to the demands of multi-national tax avoiders come as no surprise, but will disappoint Kiwi taxpayers, says Labour’s spokesman for Revenue Michael Wood.   “It has been revealed that a United States ...
    3 hours ago
  • Cheaper to stay at The Langham than emergency housing motels
    Labour’s comprehensive plan to fix the housing crisis and ensure there’s enough state housing, means we won’t be paying through the nose for emergency accommodation like the current Government has to, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. “National has ...
    4 hours ago
  • Government must come clean on water
      News that the National Government is secretly working behind closed doors on its own water charging schemes shows their utter hypocrisy on this issue, says Labour’s water spokesperson David Parker.  “They have been carping on about Labour’s plan for ...
    8 hours ago
  • Government pays twice the price for emergency housing motels – with two more on the way
    Under Labour’s plan to build at least 1000 state houses each year, New Zealand wouldn’t be paying more than double the valuations for motels to house Kiwis needing emergency housing, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. “Under questioning today, ...
    1 day ago
  • HAM shows country needs Labour on housing
    The latest Housing Affordability Measure report shows affordability dramatically worsening for Auckland first home buyers, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    1 day ago
  • Canterbury kids get more support for mental health
    Children in Canterbury and Kaikoura will get dedicated mental health support to help them overcome the trauma of the earthquakes, says the Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “We’ll fund an extra eighty mental health professionals for the next three ...
    1 day ago
  • Statement on Julie Bishop’s comments
    It is highly regrettable that the Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has chosen to make false claims about the New Zealand Labour Party. I have been utterly transparent about this situation. I stand by my statements this morning that I ...
    2 days ago
  • Labour stands with Pike families
    A Labour Government will stand with the families of Pike River and reaffirm its commitment to safe workplaces by ensuring there will be a Minister responsible for Pike River, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “The Pike River disaster ...
    2 days ago
  • Yes to Sallies – Labour will build more state houses
    The Salvation Army’s latest report ‘Taking Stock’ shows why New Zealand needs a Labour-led Government committed to a massive house building programme, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “When the Sallies say the country needs 2000 extra state houses a ...
    2 days ago
  • New Zealanders deserve better than scaremongering over water
    New Zealanders need to hear from National about how they will fund the clean-up of our rivers and lakes for future generations. Instead, National has broadened its scare-mongering, says Labour’s Water spokesperson David Parker. ...
    3 days ago
  • School Leavers’ Toolkit to equip young people for adult life
    Labour will give school leavers the practical skills and knowledge they need for adult life with a new School Leavers’ Toolkit, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “Our teachers and schools do a great job of teaching our children ...
    3 days ago
  • Pay equity to be a priority for Labour
      Labour will make sure that the country’s mental health workers are a priority when it comes to pay equity negotiations, says the Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.  “It is very important for me to right the wrong created ...
    5 days ago
  • Labour’s positive education plan
    Today’s announcement on learning support is more tinkering and proof that only a Labour Government will deliver the resources that schools and parents are crying out for, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins.  “We have a positive vision for a ...
    6 days ago
  • Pike footage raises questions over government’s actions
    The Government’s seeming determination to turn a blind eye to new questions about what happened at Pike River Mine is troubling, says Labour’s West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor. ...
    6 days ago
  • Solution to rent rises lies in building houses and stopping speculators
    The spread of rental increases from the big cities to the surrounding regions shows why we need to get on top of the housing shortage build homes our families can afford, and lock out the speculators, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson ...
    1 week ago
  • Clean rivers don’t cost $18 a cabbage
    National is falling into a bad pattern of promising the world and not saying how they will fund it, says Labour’s Water spokesperson David Parker. ...
    1 week ago
  • Time for honest answer on transport funding
    National needs to explain how they will fund the $6 billion funding gap in their 10-year Auckland transport plan, says Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    1 week ago
  • Time for true numbers on overseas speculators
    It’s time for the Government to give accurate figures on the number of houses being bought by overseas speculators, says Labour’s Land Information spokesperson Raymond Huo. ...
    1 week ago
  • Fair and sustainable trade: A Green Party vision for New Zealand’s trading relationships
    Trade is a cornerstone of the New Zealand economy. It provides us with the things we want and need, and enables us to pay for those with exports that generate business opportunities and jobs. However, it should be recognised that ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    1 week ago
  • Clean rivers for future generations
    Labour will lead a nationwide effort to restore our rivers and lakes to a clean, swimmable state, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. ...
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand really can do better on health
    Labour’s commitment to affordable access to high quality healthcare will provide a better service for New Zealanders than the current Health Minister, who will not apologise for statements that he made that wrongly criticised hard-working staff in the Southern DHB’s ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour’s plan the answer to motorway chaos
    Labour’s plan to build a light rail network and improve heavy rail and bus services across Auckland is the only answer to the kind of motorway congestion Aucklanders endured this morning, says Labour Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour to build rail to Auckland Airport
    A world class city needs a rail connection from the CBD to its international airport – that’s why Labour will build light rail to Auckland Airport as a priority, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.  “Let’s get Auckland moving ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Is pay equity just too hard for this Govt?
    You are hard pressed these days to find someone that openly admits their misogyny, that men should still be paid more than women. Politicians proclaim that they want to see women paid more, but do their actions back it up? ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s commitment to our Rainbow nation
    The Labour Party has reaffirmed its commitment to New Zealand’s rainbow community with its 2017 Rainbow policy, featuring the goal to end HIV in New Zealand by 2025. Grant Robertson says Labour continues a long and proud tradition of advocating ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s vision for Auckland more than reheated roads
    Labour is more ambitious for Auckland than the reheated set of transport projects proposed by National, says Labour’s Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Waiting urology patients are the tip of the iceberg
    The 10 patients waiting for urology surgery at Dunedin Hospital are just the tip of the iceberg, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark.  "Hundreds of patients are waiting for follow-up appointments, but they are not deemed serious enough to be ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Maori Landowners Misled by Maori Party
    Māori landowners are being misled by Government hui being held throughout the country promoting the troubled Māori Land Service (MLS), which underpins the Crown’s unpopular Ture Whenua reforms, says Labour’s Ikaroa-Rāwhiti MP Meka Whaitiri. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government’s Johnny-come-lately approach to multinational tax won’t wash
    It’s a case of baby steps for a Government that still allows multinational companies to avoid paying their fair share of tax, says Labour’s Revenue spokesperson Michael Wood. “After nine years in government, five years after the issue of multinational ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Auckland congestion up there with the world’s worst
    Traffic congestion is costing Auckland up to $2 billion in lost productivity according to the latest report from the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Michael Wood.  “This is a disaster and underlines the need for ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Experience in Youth Parliament 2016
    Being a Member of Youth Parliament was an unexpected, but fabulous opportunity for me. It provided me a way to connect with other young people who have some things in common, and to learn what it is like to be ...
    GreensBy NZ Green Party
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour backs renters’ call for warm, healthy homes
    80 per cent of renters wish their home was warmer and drier, and that’s what Labour will deliver, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • We can – and must – do better for Kiwi jobs
    Labour has the plan to get more young New Zealanders into jobs and tackle concerns raised in the latest statistics which show an extra 3000 young Kiwis are neither earning or learning compared to the same time last year, says ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Statement from Jacinda Ardern, Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party
    I want to start by giving my thanks to Andrew. His announcement today and the situation we have found ourselves in is not what anyone expected or wanted In my time working with Andrew I know one thing to be ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Better homes for Maori under Labour
    Labour’s vision is that Māori enjoy an equal playing field and have the same home ownership opportunities as non-Māori, says Labour’s Māori Development spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “Today Labour is proud to announce a detailed Māori housing policy from South Auckland’s ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Labour to build replacement for Gorge Road
    Labour will build a new road to replace the Manawatu Gorge Road as quickly as possible, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Government suppresses better transport options for Auckland
    A newly-revealed un-redacted report into options for Auckland freight movement shows the Government has been actively trying to suppress more efficient and cost-effective options to construct a third rail line, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Michael Wood. “While Auckland’s congestion gets ...
    3 weeks ago
  • How to vote and keep your info private
    Going to vote or enrolling to vote can be scary. Having your details out there can open a can of worms. I wish we lived in a country where everyone was safe and secure enough to be openly enrolled, but ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    3 weeks ago
  • Coleman’s lost control of his Ministry
    Basic blunders and chronic underfunding revealed in Treasury documents obtained by Labour clearly show Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has lost control of his ministry, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. “Every New Zealander deserves affordable access to quality healthcare but ...
    3 weeks ago

%d bloggers like this: