A number of Councillors who voted to withdraw the council’s Unitary Plan rezoning evidence on Wednesday referred to their supposed support of intensification “in the right locations”. Usually this appeared like code for “not in my ward”, especially by those on the isthmus. One of the main changes proposed in the rezoning was to “upzone” parts of the isthmus – in some areas to remedy “downzoning” that had occurred when putting together the Proposed Plan and in other areas because the zoning changes fitted with the criteria that had been signed off by the Council to guide such changes.
The map below (from here) shows reasonably clearly the location of upzoning, downzoning, no change and reclassified zoning between the Proposed Plan and the Council’s now withdrawn evidence. Areas shown in red are those where the residential zone was “upzoned” (that is, changed to a zone likely to enable more development).
Interestingly orange indicates downzoning from what was in the Proposed Plan to what was in the Council evidence. It’s amusing that both George Wood and Chris Darby, who represent the North Shore, yesterday voted against suggested zoning changes that would most likely, on balance, have reduced development intensity within their ward.
So where does the absence of these zoning changes leave us in terms of providing the necessary development capacity for Auckland over the next 30 years? This has become a bit of a vexed question with all sorts of different numbers being bandied about. So I had a dig through the Council’s (soon to be withdrawn I suppose) evidence on the issue, particularly the quantitative work that has been done to assess how much capacity the plan enables as well as the likelihood of that capacity being taken up. This piece of evidence is useful because it reflects an analysis of capacity (both total and feasible) enabled by the changes to the residential zone provisions that were generally agreed at last year’s hearing, but has not yet analysed the impact of any changes to the location of zones.
Overall quite a lot of “feasible” capacity is enabled by the Unitary Plan, even without the zoning changes. The quantitative modelling work referenced in the Council’s evidence highlights between 200,000 and 250,000 dwellings could be reasonably expected to be built within the existing urban area over the next 30 years – with the range dependent on a number of quite complex assumptions. This is shown below (and compared against a previous iteration of the modelling that took place):
However, what’s really interesting are the maps that show in what parts of Auckland this ‘feasible capacity’ exists. I’ll take the ‘maximum percentage return’ option above to show this:
What is startling from the map above is just how little feasible capacity there is on the isthmus. Because of its high land values, redevelopment to houses appears to become infeasible, yet because there is not enough upzoning on the isthmus it is only possible to built terraced housing in a fairly small number of locations (shown in blue). The likely outcome of this is most new housing would be built in areas outside the isthmus and, by the look of it, most new housing would be standalone rather than terraced or apartments that are able to offer more affordable options.
Looking at this map what most startled me was how it related to another map of Auckland I’ve looked at recently – from the ATAP Foundation Report looking at change in job accessibility over the next 10 years:
One of the ATAP Foundation Report’s most notable findings from analysing the current transport plan – and this was specifically mentioned by Minister of Transport Simon Bridges when he launched the report – is the very poor relative performance of the west and south, compared to the isthmus and the north.
And the Unitary Plan has gone and put most of our future growth in these locations and essentially locked up the isthmus from future housing growth. This is a catastrophically bad strategy for the future of Auckland, putting the growth in areas which will have increasing difficulty in getting to work and shifting it away from areas with good and improving access by car and public transport. It could also call into question projects like Light Rail which while supposedly justified based on bus volumes, may need to compete for resource with projects focused on where the growth is occurring.