Back in August I commented on plans being developed to decide where and how Auckland’s urban area should expand. The Auckland spatial plan required that up to 40% of growth in the next 30 years be provided for outside the 2010 urban limits, which translates to quite a lot of sprawl as Auckland’s population may grow by a million people during the time. A paper going to the Council next week shows some progress in investigating where are the most suitable areas for Auckland to expand – for now focusing in the south in the areas included within the red boxes below:
The paper’s background highlights the level of growth and number of houses and employees envisaged for this area and it’s pretty massive:
The Auckland Plan development strategy signals that by 2040 up to 40% of new dwellings (160,000 dwellings) may be outside the baseline 2010 Metropolitan Urban Limits (MUL) and bounded by the RUB. It also signals that following the establishment of the RUB, new greenfield land will be staged and released in ten-year steps to provide 20 years’ forward supply of development capacity. Based on a high population growth scenario, it is anticipated that up to 90,000 new dwellings will need to be provided in identified greenfield investigation areas outside the baseline urban limits as part of this commitment, as well as jobs for up to 65,000 employees. The southern greenfield areas of investigation are likely to require capacity for approximately 55,000 households and 35,000 jobs.
At around 2.5 people per dwelling, that’s a new city of around 140,000 people in this area. Bigger than Tauranga.
Obviously the edges of the red boxes don’t necessarily make for a sensible “urban boundary”, so a number of different options are being considered for places where growth could occur – although there is a “core area” which seems like it is largely being taken as a given for inclusion:
A few things probably immediately come to mind looking at the map above:
- With the exception of the Karaka North area, most of the rest of the urban area would be well served by the southern railway line and potentially generate massive patronage if its future urban form was clustered around centres at train stations
- There’s an interesting tradeoff to be considered between whether to keep Pukekohe as a separate centre from urban Auckland and the transport benefits of focusing a corridor of development along the railway line
- The boundary between Auckland and the Waikato (shown in white) is pretty close to Pukekohe and something of an artificial distinction. I wonder whether further growth could happen in the northern Waikato rather than in some of the less desirable options shown in the map above?
- The main road (State Highway 22) between Drury and Pukekohe is going to be really really busy in the future
- That’s a lot of productive farmland to urbanise
While some urban expansion is likely to be necessary as Auckland’s population grows, the options shown in this report highlight that this will mean absolutely massive change to the areas affected. With the area supposed to handle a city the size of Tauranga, I also think this isn’t going to be “quarter acre paradise” either – it’s going to be fairly high density unless every single option shown above ends up included.
So much for the Auckland spatial plan curbing sprawl.