I thought that after yesterday’s post, which looked at how newer town centres in Auckland seem to be mimicking ‘hollowed out’ US cities by devoting so much land to parking, I should take a look at some of the numbers for Manukau City (which seems to be the worst culprit here). Auckland Council’s mapping tool is a powerful ally here, enabling the measurement of polygons in square metre, as well as having a “building footprint” overlay which makes it easier to measure building areas.

Here’s where we’re focusing on: I’ve chosen the area outlined in white as representing the “core” of Manukau City Centre. It also seems reasonably representative of the wider commercial area in terms of the land-use split. Perhaps I will look to extend the area analysed in the future.

To make life a bit easier, I then divided the area above into three parts:You can see that the total area of this “core” part of Manukau City is around 46 hectares. It extents to Great South Road in the east, Manukau (formerly Wiri) station road in the south, Cavendish Drive in the north and Davies Ave & Lambie Drive in the west.

My full analysis of the land uses can be viewed in this excel document. The area noted as parking is not just purely parking spaces, but has effectively been calculated as the area not classified as roads, buildings or usable green space or plaza. It includes a few internal driveways, some of the incredibly wide buffer areas between carparks and the road and so forth (i.e. not space that has a useful purpose for anything).

Here are the summary results:What’s perhaps most remarkable about the data (other than how horrifying it is to see it confirmed that over half of Manukau is parking space and 70% is either parking spaces or roads) is how generally consistent the splits in land-use are. This suggests that the land-use proportions are unlikely to be an accident, but rather are enforced through compliance with parking regulations. If we take out public roads, we get around 34% of land (130,152 m2) of land for buildings and 63% (237,514 m2) for parking (the remaining 3% is green space or plaza). So generally, it would appear that our planning rules require two square metres of parking for every square metre of land taken up by actual development (obviously some buildings are taller than one level). This seems unbelievably wasteful.

The mismatch in land allocation is really highlighted when we graph the different uses:I’m sure, if you asked most planners how the split of these different land uses should fall, they would not consider Manukau City a good example. The Old Urbanist post suggested that there’s probably little justification in having over 25% of our land-space dedicated to Parking and Roads combined (compared to the 70% we see in Manukau). Yet those very same planners have proscribed rules which seem to make this kind of outcome necessary, while traffic engineers have built wider and wider roads in order to accommodate all the cars that fill these giant carparks.

It would be interesting to compare Manukau with somewhere like Newmarket. Perhaps that’s my next task.

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  1. These last couple of posts have been really interesting, and somewhat grim… One point: what is your justification for excluding Hayman Park? It’s presence right there would explain why green space is so low in the adjacent areas. Clearly adding it in would drastically alter yr calculations.

    1. I did think long and hard about the Hayman Park issue. My feeling was that I would include it if I was doing an analysis of all of Manukau City Centre, but because I was only looking at the “core” of it, including such a large park would skew the figures too much and in a non-justifiable way.

      Plus, from my experience, it generally seems like quite a wasted space that’s hardly used.

      1. The exclusion of Haywards Park does leave you vulnerable to a claim that you “picked your facts to prove your point”, especially because you did not note the exclusion and supporting justification in the original article.

        Also, as most of the building are multi-story, should you not compare building floorspace to car park space ? The ratio, on this basis may not be as “bad” as land use calculations you have outlined.

        1. Whether or not the buildings are multi-story misses the point. This is about land-use, so how high a building is or what is underground doesn’t matter. Even if all the buildings here were 50 stories tall, Manukau would still be an unpleasant place to be due to all the traffic and the car-parking.

  2. It’s a disaster – and goes to show just how much of an impact bad parking policies can have. Also indirectly explains why land is relatively expensive in New Zealand: Because so much of the land we have is tied up in transport infrastructure.

  3. Has any thought been given to the multi-level nature of development? I imagine that a similar exercise in Auckland’s CBD may give fairly poor results as well, until you consider the amount of office floor space in terms of multi-level development.

    Is it worth having a look at the zoning for the permitted height and checking the results again?

    1. I don’t think the number of levels of development is really the point, though obviously it is linked.

      The CBD is very different. A few multi level parking garages but not much surface parking at all really.

      Compare Houston with Manhattan.

  4. So now we know why Auckland land is so expensive – too much land devoted to car parking! Okay, may be a stretch, but these articles did make me think of the Owen McShane-Hugh Pavlevich-Wendell Cox school of urban design, where all problems can be solved with unfettered greenfields development (where everyone apparently wants to live in say, Flat Bush, rather than the leafy suburbs close to the CBD).

    1. With higher densities, however. And he wants people to live close to where they work, which is very far removed from the auto-centric model currently in play.
      I didn’t agree with the desire to open more greenfield land, but pushing areas like Penrose to become high-density housing and having their current heavy industrial occupiers move out to the fringes isn’t necessarily a silly idea. What he’s suggesting doesn’t rely on moving huge numbers of cars across the city.

    2. That’s what he was pushing? I got from the article his view that:

      – light industrial sites (e.g. Penrose factories and distribution centres) were unsuitable for the inner city and should be rezoned as residential
      – higher density building should be the focus, with 4-5 dwellings per section
      – Stonefields like developments should be the approach (OK, so it has its issues, but its a step in the right direction), and
      – those light industrial businesses (I don’t think he was referring to non-labour intensive businesses)could relocate to areas on the city fringes

      Sounds good to me. Light industrial eyesores out of the inner city, replaced by high density residential. What’s not to like?

      1. Read it again. He talks of having people living within 10 minutes of their place of employment. Of having five dwellings on a lot. That’s a very high-density city, and if you’re within 10 minutes of your employment you either don’t drive (walk or take public transport) or you have a short commute on non-arterial roads.

        It’s not a vision of motorway-dependent sprawl, which is the contrast with what the property lobby are pushing. He wants more fringe land opened for development, but coupled with a push to get a lot of employment out of the current Auckland City fringe and out into the outer suburbs. It’s certainly a much more complete vision than anything the real estate industry is after.

        The only thing he leaves out is the issue of how people are going to get around. But he doesn’t speak to that issue in either direction – PT or private transport – which suggests that he’s amenable to a public transport-centric model for transit going forwards. Certainly what he proposes is very suited to the development of public transport, since high residential densities support quality PT networks, and trying to get some centres of employment closer to the employees is a way of supporting local PT services.

        1. He’s promoting both intensification and decentralised sprawl at the same time!

          See here. The vision is more development of housing (specifically ‘houses’) and employment on the fringe so everyone can drive to work within ten minutes.

          “If you open land on the fringes, you have to decentralise jobs, too, so the ideal situation would be houses in South Auckland, to the west and north selling for $300,000 to $350,000 each and a couple both working within 10 minutes of the house.”

          Note that this can’t be Auckland, but rather a magical dream world where:
          a) Jobs are so plentiful in every industry that every individual in a given house has the luxury of choosing a position that is ten minutes away.
          b) No one ends up living on the southern fringe but driving over to the western fringe to work because that’s where the job is.
          c) No body ever leaves the house except to work and people find great solace in never leaving their immediate neighbourhood, so we can quietly ignore the majority of travel demand.

        2. He is ‘talking his book’ as they say in financial circles, well not quite, but promoting the type of spending that his company profits from…. so yes as Nick says, he wants buildings everywhere. Not bad, at least he isn’t just demanding new exurban sprawl although his company has built a lot of low density repetitive ‘brick and tile’ subdivisions, which our planning regime encourages. More positives than negatives though, good to hear the industry talking positively about intensification.

  5. Just quickly whipped around the Auckland GIS viewer and took a sample of land values and area to get the mean value$$ per sq metre in Manukau. From my 21 samples the value of land is $585m2. If the area of Manukau Centre is 460515m2 and 52% this is parking, then parking consumes $140,134929.93 worth of land!

    This is my calc. Feels like I must have done something wrong!
    460515 * 0.52 * 585 = $140,134,929.93

    1. And the value of the land would actually go up if carparking started disappearing and it was put to better use. So the real figure might be double that or more…

      1. Absolutely. There is a substantial opportunity cost with this land. Any economists out there know a quick a dirty way to estimate these costs?

    2. “$140,134,929.93” – the supercity council should tax that, at maybe $2 per carpark per day???


      Are carpark taxes enforced anywhere in the world? What theoretically would such a tax do to land use?

      1. Yes, we only need to look as far as Sydney and Melbourne to find cities that have a levy on every carpark in their CBD (this excludes private residential carparks attached to apartments, but every other private or public park is subject).

        Such a parking levy was recently investigated in Auckland by NZTA as an alternative to road pricing, it would have been applied to the CBD, Manukau, Takapuna and Henderson BDs.

        Such a tax would render surface parking uneconomic, and drive up the price of multi story parking somewhat. In the long run would have improved the urban design, created increased demand for public transport, walking and cycling access (or arguably killed off the centres if you take the ‘people will only every drive’ stance) plus drummed up a fair amount of funds.

        1. I’m sure the same people who want us to sprawl would throw their toys in a big way at a parking levy. After all, a parking levy means they have to pay for their automobile habit.

  6. Meanwhile the Manukau Link we were basically sold short on as well. Over-budget, delayed and still does not quite serve the purpose it needs to in regards with the station.
    I could list the short-comings on Manukau but will leave that for you to figure out.

    As for land value and land use, well the Draft Auckland Plan is out and has been submitted on. Lets see if the Auckland Senate will allow “the market” to best allocate the land use accordingly.
    That is, if land value is high, then developers and land owners would redevelop the land to gain maximum use and economic return. So theoretically you would in your lot have high floor square meterage for your tenants and parking either in a multi-level build or whacked underground to avoid this so called wastage of space on the surface.

    Manukau does have a height limit owing to the flight path of the airport, so land use would have to be very wise and shrewd to get your economic returns.

    As for P/T usage, hmm another essay in its own right.

    As for Icebird, that is one very huge assumption on where people are living. I would say it would be more likely with Auckland people actually cross town commute rather than CBD commute. Which if that is (wait it is the case) then the Centralist planning model advocated by some would be beyond useless…

    1. Manukau does have a height limit owing to the flight path of the airport

      Yeah, but that limit is still at least 10 storeys. Being in the flight path isn’t a huge constraint on achieving significant densities. And even two storeys is a better return than an open parking lot.

      What’s particularly crazy about Manukau and its ilk is how little use is made of multi-storey parking buildings. Massive open lots with nothing but parking, when the same number of parks could be offered in a fraction of the footprint and thus open up huge amounts of land for some other form of redevelopment.

        1. Cheers. I knew it was definitely higher than 10, but I wasn’t sure exactly how high. 18 storeys is a heck of a lot of development room.

  7. Aha! Could part of the answer to the productivity commission’s lack of available land for housing is maybe to stop using it all for carparking?

    or is that just too simplistic?

    I suggest investigating parnell gully ( st george’s bay road) as your next textbook example of light industrial sprawl and monstrous carparking. as an architect with years of medium density housing experience in london, i could fit a good few thousand people in pretty decent buildings there.

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