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 www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/unitaryplan
The Auckland Design Manual can be found at www.aucklanddesignmanual.co.nz
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.
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.
And the North Shore with only a few patches where anything over two storeys can be built.
And up around Whangaparaoa/Silverdale/Orewa
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.
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.
And the 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.
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.
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.