The Auckland Spatial Plan contains a vast number of goals, objectives, broad thinking and so forth – but perhaps more importantly two key focuses: the city centre (to be implemented through the City Centre Master Plan) and the Southern Initiative. The Southern Initiative is described in the Strategic Direction section of the Auckland Plan:

Southern Auckland is a centre of economic activity with huge potential to contribute still further to NZ’s economy. At the same time it has many residents suffering significant social and economic disadvantage. Through collaboration with other agencies and existing initiatives, great progress can be made to meet skill shortages and address disadvantage through a place-based solution in an area of high social need.

The Southern Initiative includes the areas of 4 local boards: Mangere-Otahuhu, Otara-Papatoetoe, Manurewa and Papakura. This area is characterised by high population growth with large numbers of young people. Known as our gateway to New Zealand, this area has high employment opportunities, yet many local residents live with significant social and economic disadvantage and need. The magnitude and scale of under-achievement in education, high rates of unemployment and health inequalities make this an area for national attention. The prime focus is to strengthen children and families, and to support stable homes. As a matter of urgency, initiatives in this area will focus on early childhood learning – which also supports and upskills parents and guardians, raising educational achievement – and youth. Other initiatives will be staged over time with housing initiatives starting in Mangere.

The Southern Initiative will be championed at a mayoral level, working at the highest levels with central government. It will include a community development approach, support local leadership, and build policies on existing community strengths. Policies and maps that identify the sequencing, timing and the type of interventions to make this area successful are included in Chapter 1. Learnings and innovation will be shared across other areas of Auckland.

A number of key elements to the Southern Initiative are described in more detail in the “People” chapter of the Auckland Plan, and critically include a focus on improving public transport: I’m glad that improving public transport is seen as a critical part of making a real difference to the social and economic wellbeing of the part of Auckland that struggles the most. It has always seemed rather odd to me that the south and west of Auckland probably suffer from some of the worst public transport in the whole region when people living there would probably benefit most from having a good system, by reducing their reliance on the car and perhaps meaning families can get by on one car instead of two – with the saved money helping to pay the bills and put food on the table.

Because our public transport system is so focused on the CBD, ironically we end up in a situation where the southern part of Auckland isn’t benefitting from having so much employment located within the local area. Using the excellent Mapnificent tool, you can tell that employment areas in South Auckland are pretty poorly served by public transport. Compare the large industrial area around the Airport with Newmarket – the highlighted area showing what’s accessible by a 30 minute public transport trip: Things are similarly poor (although not quite so bad) in East Tamaki: Of course this only shows one aspect of what makes a good public transport system. You’ve also got to add in frequency and simplicity of routes – which generally I think is done badly in the south.

I will certainly be waiting with interest to see what “Significantly Improved Public Transport” actually means in terms of implementing the Southern Initiative.

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  1. This part of the Auckland plan is massive mission creep. Local government isn’t responsible for education, or residential development (aside from regulating it).

    1. I don’t necessarily think that it’s anticipated the council will actually deliver any of these extra things, but rather that they would be the co-ordinating agency providing a level of oversight that directs where interventions are most necessary.

  2. Starting from Avondale lights up quite a reasonable area, Britomart-Newmarket-Neilson St Onehunga-Green Bay-Swanson.
    It predicts 80mins to the domestic airport terminal, about the same as the 78mins to Britomart, and not a whole lot worse than the 59mins it takes to Manukau City Centre, which is a whole lot closer.
    Airport is a pain to access, sooner rail runs through there the better.

        1. That was my immediate thought too. The Airporter will get you to Papatoetoe railway station in less than 15 minutes, so the half hour journey could then also extend along the railway.

  3. Question just came to mind with the airport rail link.

    Would it be strictly passenger or could we accommodate some light freight shunting as well. Last I looked the land to the north of the airport was home to some very large logistic centres. Now I know several freight logistic centres (Mainfreight and I think PBT at Westfield, and Daily Freight has one at Southdown and Penrose) have spur rail lines to allow freight wagons to be shunted in and out to and from Westfield so that they can be hooked up to the main train and sent south.

    IF we plan the Airport rail link properly, I can’t see why the logistic hubs at the airport have access to the rail line as well.
    Hey the more freight we move by rail – the better – right?

    1. If it were to be done properly – ie enough capacity for a high frequency rail service and room for freight services – you could be looking at a third track at one extreme or more likely expensive provisions for loops and or reception and departure roads.
      Given the struggle to get acceptance that there is a worthwhile business case in the first place, I really don’t see how an airport scheme could stand that scale of up-front infrastructure (even if only passively provided). “Value engineering” would see it removed very quickly – no-matter how much it may be the “right thing to do”.

      1. Laying a third track through on the Manukau side right at the design phase would make sense, given that there’s already a link to POAL’s inland port at Wiri. From there, ensure the corridor is of appropriate width to add a third track all the way through to Onehunga and have a path for a third (and fourth) track that bypasses the airport terminals to give freight a route up to Airport Oaks.

        1. Oh I agree it makes sense. But there will be a cost, the scale of which will depend on the scale of the passive provision: extra bridge portals, wider bridge abutments, greater land purchase any of which the visionary will have to defend against the accountants’ challenge.

  4. Hmmm, I can see both arguments for and against running light freight shunting services to and from the airport to Wiri, Penrose or Westfield.

    Still to put total mind at ease even if it is an absoulte no – allow a case study to happen about airport freight running. I rather have an absolute NO presented to me rather then not doing a case study then realising 10 years later – ooops we could of done it but can’t now.

  5. @Swan

    Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009 s79(2): “The purpose of the spatial plan is to contribute to Auckland’s SOCIAL, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being through a comprehensive and effective long-term (20- to 30-year) strategy for Auckland’s growth and development”.

    Just sayin.

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