Today the Unitary Plan has finally been formally notified meaning it is now out for public consultation. Here is the official press release:

The Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan is now online, marking its official notification and the start of the formal submission phase, that will run until 28 February 2014.

The plan includes changes based on feedback from 22,000 Aucklanders and the decisions made by Auckland Council’s elected members.

“Today we officially kick off the formal submission phase with a plan that has been developed in partnership with our communities. This gives us a great head start as we enter the next step in the process,” said Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse.

Changes made to the plan since the release of the first draft in March have been summarised in factsheets based on local areas and key topics including residential zones, heights in centres, heritage and the Rural Urban Boundary.

Improvements have also been made to the e-plan, which includes the rules, maps and a search function to find out what the plan proposes for a specific address. The plan can also be viewed at libraries and council service centres for those who don’t have access to the internet.

Also online from today is the first release of the Auckland Design Manual, which works as a practical companion guide to the Auckland Unitary Plan. The manual aims to help everyone from developers to homeowners achieve good design by providing the latest information on best practice processes and real life examples.

During November Auckland Council will be running a series of information expos on the Proposed Unitary Plan that will include support sessions on how to make a formal submission.

Following the five-month submission phase, there will be further submissions, hearings and appeals that will take place over the next three years.

The Proposed Unitary Plan, factsheets outlining key changes and the formal submission form can be found at

The Auckland Design Manual can be found at

As mentioned the other day submissions will be open until the 28th of February. We will have more detailed analysis in coming days and months but the first thing most people are looking at is the maps so here are some images of them. The maps have been updated following the feedback on the March draft and sadly in most cases have seen intensification stripped back, in some cases significantly. As noted in the post the other day, Patrick Fontein has estimated that 50,000 potential dwellings have been removed from the urban area alone and that can be added to the 100,000 that were already removed from what was expected in the Auckland Plan.

What you will notice in these maps is the just how extensive the single house and the mixed housing suburban zones are, both of which are limited to height to two storeys. There is very little of the mixed housing urban zone which allows for three storey dwellings, a typology that I think has a lot of potential in Auckland.

Here is the legend for these maps to help understand them.

Notified UP legend

Here is the Isthmus, the area that should theoretically be the most urban part of the region yet there isn’t simply not that much development allowed.

Notified UP - Isthmus

And the North Shore with only a few patches where anything over two storeys can be built.

Notified UP - North

And up around Whangaparaoa/Silverdale/Orewa

Notified UP - Whangaparaoa

Next we have East Auckland with again a similar look. What the hell is with that massive single house zone all around Howick. I’m guessing that’s the result of some councillors and local board member imposing their beliefs on the entire neighbourhood.

Notified UP - East

Now South Auckland again with a similar look. I remember hearing the likes of the Manurewa Local Board chair saying that even this was too much.There is also a hell of a lot of “Future Urban”, an area that will likely end up being developed much more quickly due to the limited opportunities elsewhere in the region.

Notified UP - South

And the South West

Notified UP - South West

By now you may have been thinking that there is a definite trend here, and it’s not a good one. From what I have seen and heard, local boards have perhaps been given way much say in what the shape of the city is and I have heard that many local board members involved in the process were actively pushing their own personal agendas and only looking and highlighting submissions that agreed with their views. Almost entirely where there has been a choice between the Mixed Housing Suburban and Mixed Housing Urban, the lower level suburban zone has been picked.

But there has been one bright light in this process, the local boards out west. Contrast the images above with the maps from West Auckland where the local boards have done the opposite. The Mixed Housing Urban zone features strongly and there are significant tracts of THAB zone (note the area around south of Hobsonville Rd is the Upper Harbour local board which likely the reason for the large amounts of Mixed Housing Suburban there). The look and feel is so substantially different to the rest of the region and while there are still pockets of single house zoning, at least that is balanced out by the higher density allowed elsewhere.

Notified UP - West

The one downside is the massive amounts of Future Urban in the North West but that combined with the intensification allowed for in Te Atatu and Massey means that a North West busway is absolutely essential if we want people to be able to move around free of congestion. All of the intensification near the rail line also will increase demand and need for the CRL too.

But as suggested, this isn’t just a case of the west accepting what was proposed, the local boards actually pushed for more intensification than what was originality allowed for. Take a look at these before and after images of the Te Atatu Peninsula and of Henderson showing just how much more THAB zoning is allowed for.

Notified UP - Te Atatu changes

Notified UP - Henderson changes

Being a local resident of Henderson I was actually proud of my local board for doing the right thing but I was curious as to why they did it when other local board did the opposite, running from intensification. So I asked the chair of the Henderson-Massey Local board Vanessa Neeson. This was here response:

The Deputy Mayor is correct in saying that the former City of Waitakere had done a lot of work in preparing this part of the region for the growth that we know is coming and you are right nothing is going to happen this minute, this is looking forward to the next 30years and how do we plan for this. Henderson already had unlimited height and it hasn’t resulted in the sort of outcome we have seen in the city. At the end of the day it always comes down to economic viability. Waitakere had worked through these issues for many years and so the board was receptive.

We have seen the wonderful development in New Lynn and that has come about through the previous hard work and focus of the former council, around design with private developers.

We see Henderson as a modern centre for middle NZ. At the moment it is struggling and one way to make the centre more vibrant and prosperous is to have more people living here. Being able to walk to public transport and shops.

Henderson already has everything going for it rail, shopping, hospital, courts, library, Unitec and Westwave. All it needs is more people close by to get the place really humming and we want to enable that to happen. Not everyone wants to go to the CBD.

Development needs to be high quality along with very strong Urban Design components and the officers have told us the new UP will enable good Urban Design. The LB will be working very hard to promote and uphold these ideals.

It is so nice and refreshing to see some politicians take a long term view and understand the issues and consequences of their decisions. Great work West Auckland, the rest of the city needs to go back and have a hard look at itself.

Note: the maps are really slow at the moment, hopefully something that will improve soon.

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  1. I am not thrilled with the Papatoetoe nor the Manurewa Local Boards after Manukau got effectively bottled in the new maps. I believe Matt you would be correct in your assertion ” From what I have seen and heard, local boards have perhaps been given way much say in what the shape of the city is and I have heard that many local board members involved in the process were actively pushing their own personal agendas and only looking and highlighting submissions that agreed with their views.”

    In saying that this is not over as we now submit again, one more time and then before the Commissioners. Hopefully with some luck and very good logical arguments we can make our cases to the Commissioners and get some of that level of intensification restored back across the city.

    Then again I might be placing too much faith in the Commissioners here 😛

    1. About time we got much better strategic cycle links into the Isthmus as well. The NW and it’s future extension is great, but on the basis of this zoning we need a cycle spine from Waterview to New Lynn to Henderson, with a few spurs along the way.

      1. Well Tim, you won’t be jumping for joy over AT’s design plans for GNR from Waterview to Henderson. More on-road, unprotected lanes and a few shared paths. But wait, one day we might have a path alongside the rail line – but I’m not holding my breath.

  2. Pardon me for my ignorance, but can anybody tell me if it will be possible to build (two-storey) terraced houses in the MHU zone?

    Good on the west Auckland councilors for having a bit of vision for their area. The rest should be hanging their heads in shame.

    1. Yes it will be possible to build this typology up to three storeys as a permitted activity in the mixed housing urban zone. Whether that happens in practice is another question.

    2. In practice the maximum density limits (or minimum site sizes), and site shape requirements will work against terraced housing on sites smaller than 1200 m2 in the mixed housing urban zone. And the height in relation to boundary rules will mean that it is not possible to build to a side boundary without the neighbours consent.

      1. These are quite easy to work around and in most of Auckland you only need 2 adjoining sites to reach 1200 m^2. I quite like the MHU, it’s a shame it was so limited in spread.

        1. But on a site smaller than 1200 m2 the maximum density of one dwelling per 250 m2 would mean you can only build huge terraced houses.

          250 m2 max density + building coverage of 40 % + three storeys permitted = 300 m2 of floor space that is only allowed to contain one dwelling.

          The maximum density rule enforces compulsory huge houses for no good reason.

        2. Nope, you are allowed to build minor dwellings on each site, so any section over 1000m could technically have 8 dwellings.

        3. @Sailor Boy – The secondary dwelling rule is only for the conversion of existing homes: “The primary dwelling must exist on the date of notification of this Unitary Plan.” You can’t use it to double density when developing a site.

          Also I think there are limitations on getting a separate legal title for the second dwelling – it is intended to be rented or loaned out by the owner of the primary dwelling.

        4. Getting two adjoining sites is very hard. If it can’t happen on one site it won’t happen, basically.

    1. Yes exactly, especially when taken in the context of the rest of the city. The other thing is I think there is a decent mix of political leanings too showing it’s not a left/right issue. Doesn’t seem to be a major point with any candidates either in the elections either.

  3. Looking at this I think that bollocking the Eastern board(s) may be a bit harsh. Ther is a lot of scope for intesification there and it is spread around sensibly, primarily along Ti Rakau, Te Irirangi, and Pakuranga Roads. Easy to serve with transit, and with 2 large centres.

    Good on the guys out west for embracing density, slightly less goo onthe Eastern boards, and shame on EVERYONE else, looks like I will be leaving the shore.

        1. @ Louis M – According to City Vision’s own press release Shale Chambers was against intensification:

          “Significant gains were achieved for the Waitemata communities. Mike Lee’s motions, seconded by Sandra Coney (with strong supporting advocacy from Waitemata Local Board chair Shale Chambers) acheived:

          much of Grey Lynn and Westmere being rezoned to the Single House zone from the proposed THAB or Mixed Housing Urban and Suburban. This was supported by Councillors as a precautionary measure pending a heritage and character assessment being undertaken.”

          You can read the whole thing here:

  4. So… West Auckland is going to be by far the most affordable part of town to live in over the next decade or two? As long as that includes near the rail line, great. I’d love a 2-bedroom apt in New Lynn, if I could find a bank happy to lend on apartments.

    1. I guess the good news is that wth banks now limited to most loans being 20% minimum, the large deposits on apartments are less onerous relatively than they were before.

    1. Palino: “We can’t afford to roll out services everywhere”

      Hey-ho. Hear hera. If he would actually be someone important after the election (which I don’t think he will be), I’d suggest to keep that in the back pocket for when he supports sprawl.

        1. In my opinion, it’s actually an elaborate bid to sell more product at St Pierre’s Sushi… heard those new ads?

  5. I keep imagining the whole city being moved on trucks to the Te Atatu Peninsula, like that episode of the Simpsons where they moved the whole of Springfield because old Springfield was overrun with garbage after Homer’s stint as garbage commissioner.

    Actually most of our local boards have been about as effective in public office as Homer was, but no way near as funny.

  6. Remba folks, local board members take direction for resident voters. Take note “resident voters”, not just residents of the area. Again, majority of voters seem to be over the age of 50 and therefore their ideals are somewhat less driven towards intensification. If you want more intensification then you need more voters asking for this, not just residents having a winge.
    Also, the plan has no weight whatsoever in it’s current form. If len is ousted (i dont think he will be) the plan will change again, and again, and again!

    1. The plan does have weight as it has been formally notified, short of being withdrawn, ongoing changes would need to be carried out in accordance of the first schedule of the RMA and LG (Auckland Transitional Provisions) Act.

  7. Is there much of a market for intensification out west or will this just mean a continuation of typical Auckland planning where intensification gets pushed to areas it won’t happen and therefore we end up with growth happening through sprawl?

    1. Yes Fred that is a big part of the issue, the areas where there is lots of demand for intensification – the city fringe and coastal areas – have been zoned to prevent it from happening. I don’t expect we will see all of what is allowed in the west to eventuate but at least it has been allowed for if someone ever decided it was worth their while – note I think the CRL could be a bit of a game changer to demand for western suburbs.

  8. Another thing I need to say is, I do agree that local boards are somewhat forcing their beliefs and scaremongering residents into thinking intensification is bad, I applaud the West suburbs for bucking the trend.

    Same goes for transport issues as I know Mangere and Otahuhu residents I’ve talked to are scared about a Onehunga – Highbrook link that hasn’t been fully discussed yet.

  9. Where does Len Brown’s “most liveable city” now sit in terms of this fiasco? He was the one who had to drive this and he failed miserably. In iaamMilford he ran up the white flag while the opposing armies were gathering -he didn’t even wait for the scrap to start. I see that his advertising slogan continues regardless that its an empty promise.

    His legacy will be a few shared streets in the city for what they are worth. If I hadn’t been quick on my feet this morning I would have been cleaned out by a Konica Minolta vehicle taking Elliot St at 30-4o k’s.

    I think I am encouraged by what has happened in my own suburb of Takapuna. It looks as though there may be enough space for high rise to give the metropolitan centre the scale it needs. I welcome others thoughts.

    I remain disappointed that the land around Akoranga is zoned green but I guess that was always an argument for another day.

    1. Don’t blame Len, he wasn’t the reason for this failure. He is not a dictator.

      If the Unitary Plan was universal healthcare and Len Brown Obama, then the local boards and Nimby Councillors were the republican party.

    2. Agreed with Takapuna, it may just be enough. There is lots of demand on the shore and very few places it can happen so maybe tak will go mad and then drag the other centres up with it.

    3. I think I am encouraged by what has happened in my own suburb of Takapuna. It looks as though there may be enough space for high rise to give the metropolitan centre the scale it needs. I welcome others thoughts.

      I wouldn’t be so positive about Takapuna. It has been trimmed back significantly. In the draft the THAB zone extended quite a bit down Lake road but that has been scaled back quite a bit.

      1. Much of the land along the Northern Motorway is either light industry or mixed housing suburban. Could this have been zoned for more intensive use? Certainly other motorway zones have allowed for more intensification, eg north of Green Lane East and West (Southern Motorway), and around Stoddard Road (Southwestern Motorway). More intense use of the land around the Northern Motorway might restore some overall intensification to the North Shore and better optimise the investment in the North Shore Busway, present and future.

        Darn shame there is so little development opportunity down Dominion Road. Based on the zoning it might be time to pull the plug on any further PT investment down Dominion Road and re-focus instead on Great North Road where the proposed level of densification through to Point Chevalier looks like quite a promising start to a Northwest Busway.

  10. The Chairman of the Manurewa Local Board is not even a local as she does not live in the area. Same as the former MP who has always lived in Papakura.

    Hope people vote for locals to represent them on their Local Board. This year it is clearly spelled out who does not live in the area.

  11. Per the comment from the Henderson-Massey local board person quoted in the OP, New Lynn is the key to people seeing what is needed in Auckland. Focused intensification, not scattered intensification. Then, when that succeeds and everyone can see that it succeeds, more general intensification.

    1. If New Lynn is ‘key to people seeing what is needed in Auckland’, then we’re in double trouble. No matter the hype, New Lynn is a depressingly soul-less, commercial space, devoid of pretty much everything except an increasingly desperate mall, surrounded by a sea of car parking and ringed by a couple of urban motorways posing as arterials. The whole thing, like pretty much the rest of Auckland, is predicated on the car; pedestrians are marginalised (see how long it takes you to cross Clark Street at the signalised intersections). The train station/bus interchange might work if it wasn’t so isolated by the roads and frequencies were better. The shared space streets seem increasingly occupied by parked cars and open onto empty, closing or $2.00 shops and a gambling joint. And the one apartment building they’re constructing – on top of a multi-storey car park in the middle of the inaptly-named ‘Merchant Quarter’ – will be largely owned by overseas buyers to whom the marketing has been directed. New Lynn should not be cited as an example of urban intensification although it might well be used as an example of planning spin reinventing suburban reality.

  12. Clark St is not a minor residential street. It is a primary road through to SH20 and sits next to a major Bus hub. Of course you are going to wait some time to cross the road. Give it 10 years and I think New Lynn will come out quite nicely.

    1. Never claimed Clark Street was ‘a minor residential street’. If you want an accurate description, it’s a traffic sewer that effectively splits New Lynn in half, far more effectively than the rail trench or the rapidly emptying commercial precinct. If you think that providing ‘a primary road through to SH20’ is the way to deal with the traffic problems of the area that we face as a consequence of over-privileging single-occupancy private motor vehicles over PT, walking and cycling, and if you’re in a position to implement that myopic vision, then we’re in worse trouble than I can imagine. Give it 10 years and I can imagine New Lynn as the epitome of dystopic junkspace.

  13. Yes Clark St isnt great, but its not that much worse than Ponsonby Road!
    However there is lots to be positive about with New Lynn. The CRL will mean it is will be as close the the CBD as Kingsland is now.
    The transport interchange, rail station, apartments with activated frontages and mall all fit nicely together.
    Just need to get a bunch more people living there and the old shops will take off again.

  14. Hey guys, realise this is an old thread… But I’m interested to hear thoughts from public transport gurus as to how Te Atatu Peninsula can be served by public transport if it was to intensify to the level shown on the Unitary plan. It’s great to see intensification along the rail network out west – New Lynn, Henderson especially, but I’m just not sure how PT works in a peninsula situation where there’s no rail and only one route on & off. The future ferry is also proposed alongside the motorway which means everyone will be heading in the same direction. Is this level of intensification feasible on a peninsula? Comments? Anyone aware of successful overseas examples?

    1. Take a look at the Auckland Plan, it indicates a rapid transit link along the northwestern which presumably would be very similar to the Northern Busway on the north Shore. That’s certainly what the guys have done for the CFN plans you can view at the top of the page.

      Apart tt from that, peninsulas are actually perfect for public transport because they focus all travel and development along one corridor. So you can have a single frequent and regular bus that serves everyone. Take a look at what the Regional Public Transport Plan shows, a frequent bus running from Te Atatu north to Henderson, connection with another frequent bus running on the Northwestern Motorway.
      So that’s about perfect in my opinion. Te Atatu should have PT as good as Takapunafor example, and can easily intensify.

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