Yesterday the council released the recommendations from the Independent Hearing Panel (IHP) for the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (PAUP) and as expected when there are over 1000 pages of recommendations there’s a lot to talk about, way too much for one post. As we also expected there is a mix of outcomes, some are good and others not so good. An overview of the changes is provided in this 123 page report which is what I’ll mainly focus on for this post.

First up the council had a couple of big wins with the IHP agreeing with many of their high level objectives for managing growth, such as:

  1. Affirming the Auckland Plan’s development strategy of a quality compact urban form focussed on a hierarchy of business centres plus main transport nodes and corridors.
  2. Concentrating residential intensification and employment opportunities in and around existing centres, transport nodes and corridors so as to encourage consolidation of them while:
    • a. allowing for some future growth outside existing centres along transport corridors where demand is not well served by existing centres; and
    • b. enabling the establishment of new centres in greenfield areas after structure planning.
  3. Retaining the Rural Urban Boundary (together with a substantial area of land zoned Future Urban Zone inside it) as a means of managing large-scale growth and infrastructure planning (this last point has a bit of a catch though which I’ll cover off later.)

That means the IHP didn’t just throw everything out and start from scratch but have made changes that address many of the shortcomings from the notified plan and the biggest of these is that the notified plan simply didn’t allow for enough growth. In this regard the IHPs recommendations are said to lie somewhere between what the council originally notified and what submitters like Housing NZ were after which was much more widespread upzoning across the region.

One of the areas they haven’t changed are the residential zones themselves. There are still the main urban zones of Single House (SH), Mixed Housing Suburban (MHS), Mixed Housing Urban (MHU) and Terraced Housing and Apartment Building (THAB) and many of the rules for the zones, such as height limits, remain the same. One big change is the removal of density provisions on the MHS so it matches the MHU and THAB zones – although there are various development standards and levels at which resource consents apply. Importantly where each zone is applied has also changed, one example being that the council walkable catchments for higher density zones of 200-400m while the IHP have recommended it be doubled to 400-800m. It is those and other amendments which are behind the changes in development capacity.

The level of development capacity has been a crucial issue for the IHP. They have agreed with the high side predictions of need to provide around 400,000 dwellings over the next 30 years and that for planning purposes it’s better to err on that high side. In short better to allow too many dwellings to be built than not enough. To this end they also say:

It became apparent early in the hearings that in the development of the proposed Unitary Plan the Council had relied on the theoretical capacity enabled by the Unitary Plan, rather than on a measure of capacity that takes into account physical and commercial feasibility, which the Panel refers to as ‘feasible enabled capacity. Feasible enabled residential capacity means the total quantum of development that appears commercially feasible to supply, given the opportunities enabled by the recommended Unitary Plan, current costs to undertake development, and current prices for dwellings. The modelling of this capacity at this stage is not capable of identifying the likely timing of supply.

When you look at the PAUP in this regard there becomes a huge issue with it estimated to only be able to provide 213k dwellings, well short of the 400k needed. Through the changes they’ve made they estimate that the feasible enabled residential capacity has almost doubled, going from 213k to 422k. As you can also see, the biggest two changes have come from within existing residential areas and within centres and mixed use areas.

Recomended UP - Change in Feasible Capacity

The impact of the changes can be seen on the two maps below showing what was feasible under the PAUP on the left and what is feasible under these recommendations. As you can clearly see there is a lot more development that has been enabled – although it seems more still could have been done on the isthmus.

Recomended UP - PAUP vs Recomended Feasible Capacity

You may recall the Auckland Plan development strategy had a 70:40 split, up to 60-70% of development occurring within the existing urban area and 30-40% occurring on greenfield land. Yet thanks to council getting scared of the noisy groups opposing housing, the PAUP as effectively flipped those numbers around. While the IHP have recommended that spatial distribution be deleted, the changes above have helped to return the Unitary Plan to that level. This is shown below.

Recomended UP - Distribution of Capacity

The table below is based on some early analysis by council on the recommendations showing how much land was included in PAUP vs what is in the recommendation. As you can see there are some quite significant differences.

Recomended UP - Zoning ha Changes

As mentioned earlier, the Rural Urban Boundary (RUB) stays but it has been changed significantly, both in scale and how it will work in future. One key change is the IHP say the exact location of it should be decided at the district plan level. That means it could be changed in the future through private plan changes. That makes it a soft boundary and as I mentioned yesterday, could make it more difficult to plan big infrastructure projects.

Lastly just to quickly touch on one of the points I raised yesterday that I haven’t already covered, parking rules. The IHP have retained parking maximums in the City Centre Zone while the other Centre zones, the Business, Mixed Use and THAB zones and the Centre Fringe Office Control area have neither minimums or maximums with the main exception being for retail and commercial services activities where a minimum of 1 space per 30m² has been recommended. This is a big win for the major retailers who wanted minimums for anti-competitive reasons, making it harder for small businesses particularly in town centres to afford to compete. Outside of the zones mentioned previously, all other areas will have minimums applied.

In another post I’ll look at comparing the maps of the proposed plan and what has now been recommended.

The council are due to start formally debating the plan on August 10 and have that wrapped up on August 18 so the plan can be formalised. If they don’t agree with an IHP recommendation they can’t just reject it and instead have to provide an alternative solution and produce a cost benefit ratio for it. Overall the recommendations represent a vast improvement to the Unitary Plan and while not everything is what we hoped for, there was always going to need to be some compromises. After dragging on for about four years now, the finish line is in sight and it seems to me that councillors should just be encouraged to pass the plan as it is.

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93 comments

  1. Mostly good then 8-). My overwhelmingly impression is that the proposed rules are a fragmented patchwork changing street by street and even house by house. Nothing a 1000 pages long is accessible 😎

    The main failure is perhaps not taking advantage of the inner isthmus enough. It should reasoned thab through out 😎

    1. Services (transport and amenities) vary greatly within the isthmus itself. Not all areas will cope as well with intensification as others – which is fine. That’s when you need to start showing people what the Council is going to do in terms of service delivery to help with that change to get them on board. This probably could have been done better in East Auckland – it’s a shame because in many ways, the canvas is already there.

      1. The problem is that the areas with the most amenities and transport services at the moment are the ones with the most restrictions. The single house zone is almost entirely along the planned light rail routes and the area where most of the Urban Cycleway Fund projects are. Some of the strongest town centres – Kingsland, Ponsonby, Balmoral, Mt Eden – are planned for stagnation.

        1. No surprises there… where the well-to-do in Mt Eden get to keep their leafy village character, the hoi polloi in Three Kings get MHU and THAB zoning slammed right into former SH zones. I suppose I should consider myself lucky that my side of of the street is still SH, but the other side of the street is zoned MHU, and one lot over the SH zone borders directly onto THAB. Surely having a less jarring transition between the zones would make for better outcome.

          The area along Mt Albert Rd between Dominion Rd and Mt Eden that is up-zoned a lot between the PAUP and IHP proposals is also very poorly served by public transport… Compare this to the Dominion Rd corridor which has excellent (for Auckland) transport, but practically no up-zoning.

          Combined with the removal of requirements that focus on quality and affordability, this really drives me to the conclusion that at least these particular changes have very little to do with solving the Auckland housing crisis, and everything to do with providing easy paths to privatisation for Housing New Zealand and maximum profit for large corporations like Fletcher.

          1. ” I suppose I should consider myself lucky that my side of of the street is still SH”

            I think you mean unlucky.

  2. A huge step forward in general.

    That parking minimums recommendation is weird and seems to go against everything else the panel was keen on.

    1. I don’t think anyone wanted parking for ‘anti-competitive reasons’ as Matt L suggests above. They want parking rules for retail to stop free-riders building shops next to their carpark. If anyone doesn’t need parking they simply don’t have to provide it as there are very good assessment criteria to let them provide less or even no parking at all. If you create a demand for parking and there is none available then you get to provide some. It is called mitigating your effects.

      1. If on-street and public parking is priced (or if there is a credible commitment to price it if demand reaches a level where it can’t be managed efficiently through time limits) and private parking is excludable, then there is no externality that requires regulatory correction.

        The application of MPRs for retail but not other activities located in centres raises some serious questions about regulatory consistency. If private parking truly *isn’t* excludable, which I doubt, then what’s to stop people visiting offices or dwellings, which don’t have MPRs, from using retailers’ parking lots?

        From a pragmatic perspective, this is a step in the right direction. But it’s not logically consistent.

        1. Which is why you can expect less connectivity designed into future retail applications. They will seek to protect their parking from other users with walls despite the complaints of urban designers. Pricing doesn’t help as the visitor to the neighbouring site might be willing to pay more for a space than the owners own customer, because of opportunity cost. The customer can drive further to another shopping centre, the neighbour’s visitor can’t.

          1. Or, you know, shared parking facilities funded by users or collectively by business improvement districts. I know you love to deride economics as the “dismal science”, but it seems like you’re the one with the dim view of humans’ ability to work together to solve problems.

          2. “Pricing doesn’t help as the visitor to the neighbouring site might be willing to pay more for a space than the owners own customer”

            How does that not help? The owner is presumably only providing parking to increase profits, so they either provide parking or store, they simply provide less parking until it is as profitable to own parking as to own store floor area. Alternatively they operate on a validation scheme offering expensive parking unless you purchase an item.

          3. Also, think of the shoppers. Suppose every little shop having its own parking lot. How is that supposed to work? Visit butcher — move car — visit florist — move car again — go to supermarket.

            It’s the same with these little shopping strips, and those “Unicorn Shop customers ONLY” signs. As if anyone is going to move his car when going from one shop to another.

          4. I think that is the best way Peter. But people only share if they have similar incentives. Coase told us people can negotiate an efficient outcome regardless of how the property rights are allocated. But in reality they work together if their goals are aligned. The very best way is as a common pool but simply assuming it is excludable and then declaring it should be priced misses all the benefits of a common pool. Yet two generations of economists were trained to think that way whether is is fisheries or rivers or whatever. This stuff is even more important in the traditional centres with multiple owners. Otherwise we will end up with old centres with no parking at all and most people driving to the newer malls. I totally agree with Roland that it is a daft outcome if every shop has its own parking area, but if they have no requirement to provide then they will never even talk to their neighbours let alone agree to a special rating zone or cash in lieu arrangement.

          5. Here is a radical plan mfwic. If common/public carparking servicing an entire town centre is the most efficient outcome, maybe that will be provided by the private sector. Why wouldnt it be?

      1. Perhaps a real life illustration might help. A new supermarket opens. They build a carpark, not because some rules said they needed to but because they need parking to support their business model. Once they open a butcher decides to open beside them. It is a great location, there are lots of people coming into the area now to buy groceries. The butcher has to provide some parking at the minimum rate and can’t simply free ride on someone elses investment. By contrast someone up the road opens a shop that sells grand pianos and doesn’t create as much demand for parking. They can get a dispensation as part of the resource consent application that they had to make anyway. Someone else opens a kiosk selling hop cards and cigarettes, they dont create any demand for parking so they wont be required to provide any. Of course in the black and white world of importing ideas from US blog sites regardless of whether they make sense here this is probably difficult to understand. But the Panel got it.

        1. Perhaps a real life illustration might help. A new swimming pool opens. They build a hot tub, not because some rules said they needed to but because they need hot tubs to support their business model. Once they open a tanning decides to open beside them. It is a great location, there are lots of people coming into the area now to use the pool. The butcher has to provide some hot tubs at the minimum rate and can’t simply free ride on someone else’s [sic] investment. By contrast someone up the road opens a shop that sells grand pianos and doesn’t create as much demand for hot tubs. They can get a dispensation as part of the resource consent application that they had to make anyway. Someone else opens a kiosk selling hop cards and cigarettes, they don’t [sic] create any demand for hot tubs so they wont be required to provide any. Of course in the black and white world of importing ideas from US blog sites regardless of whether they make sense here this is probably difficult to understand. But the Panel got it.

          Why does the panel think we need to regulate number of hot tubs? The same arguments apply, we keep people out of hot tubs by pricing them or restricting access, we can keep people out of car parks by pricing them or restricting access.

          1. If I ever get to be an expert witness for traffic impacts I am definitely using this similie. Even experienced pro hot-tub minima advocates like yourself are confounded by it.

          2. I can promise you Sailor that with arguments like that you will probably never be asked by either side.

          3. Meh, I don’t really want to participate in a process that infantilises people by assuming that they can’t act in their own best interests and that excluding parking like 90% of landowners do is too hard for them. Such a system deserves to be infantilised in return. I only hope that by the time I have the level of experience that can result in me being an expert witness that we have moved on from nanny state rubbish like parking requirements and shower head restrictions and simply price the costs of parking and water to reflect the cost of people’s choices.

            Also, the more I think about it, the more apt this simile is (or at least a swimming pool one). Which part of the simile do you disagree with mfwic?

          4. If car parking is important to the supermarket business model then maybe supermarkets should manage their parking and provide it or not as they see fit?

        2. But surely it shouldn’t be the role of councils to prevent people “free-riding on someone else’s investment”? The way that should be done is by the supermarket in your example deciding who can park in their car park and enforcing their rules accordingly. Huge duopolies aren’t big babies.

          The butcher should be free to decide whether they need to provide any parking for their customers, above and beyond what public parking may be available in the vicinity.

          If I have a swimming pool, does that mean anyone building a new house nearby should be forced to also have a swimming pool, to protect me against them free-riding on my investment and using mine? Of course not, it’s up to me to take action against anyone uninvited using my pool.

          1. Nick your argument is correct, but minimum swimming pool requirements should really be included in the UP to protect real kiwi culture and our way of life. 😉

          2. What about Minimum Barbecue Requirements? Houses must come with an outdoor space which allows the resident to comfortably have a barbecue outside with his friends.

            The sad thing is, the suburbs are full of houses which fail that requirement above, despite sitting on as much as 500m² of land.

        3. What if the butcher goes bust. And a candlestick maker moves in? Or more likely the HOP card retailer expands. What happens with the parking then? Retail tenants turn over, so whatever parking regulations are employed, they need to cater for any type of outlet.

    2. Right so what you are saying is – “You don’t need to provide parking if you dont need it – and by the way AT will decide whether you need parking or not and how much you need”.

      Not quite the same thing is it.

      Businesses dont “create demand”. Demand is a function of price. Yes the business opening will shift the demand curve, but that doesnt mean more parking needs to be, or will be supplied, it is a function of the supply curve as well!

          1. Are you suggesting the Council can’t assess effects against criteria and make a decision? They are really good at that. They haven’t always had the best assessment criteria but that is a different matter that is now fixed.

          2. What I am suggesting is business owners are the people who should be determining what investments they make in their business. Council shouldnt be telling them to invest in carparks any more than it should be telling them to invest in an IT system.

          3. New businesses may create some extra demand for transport access, but there is more than one mode to deliver that.

            Why require acres of carparking in areas already well-served by public transit, cycling and walking? Or how about putting some of the extra rating income/development contributions into adding to those modes, not just more painted asphalt.

  3. I’m particularly disappointed about the zoning around dominion road. All three other proposed lrt routes have higher zoning.

  4. Looks a lot better in general. Those development potential figures really say it all. Still cant work out the policy rationale behind the SH zone though. On the North Shore there are apparently random enclaves of single house zone smattered amongst MHS. These are all houses built post war (post 70s mainly). And Chatswood is entirely single house. Is that to protect it has a fine example of 1970s – 90s architecture (which it probably is)?

    1. Devonport again is another place that should have had more development. The place in a prime position is a ghost town most the time. A real shame.

        1. Speaking of islands – what’s up with Waiheke? A cursory Google isn’t telling me why Waiheke isn’t included in the unitary plan maps I’ve seen..

          1. Oops, found my answer: “Unlike other parts of Auckland, the Auckland District Plan: Hauraki Gulf Islands Section will continue to apply in full.”

      1. Yeah should have. It is the same as the western coastal harbour suburbs – Northcote Point, Birkenhead South and Chatswood. However at least for these areas, the corridor immediately to the north looks to be really well upzoned. We are already having lots of new apartment developments in Birkenhead and it looks like that should continue – should make for an even more vibrant town centre.

      2. I don’t know why I bothered to submit, I took the time to point out that council (and now the panel) have zoned dozens of apartment buildings along the Devonport waterfront (King Edward Parade) for the single house zone. When you walk along that stretch of road what is apparent is that single houses are the anomaly along it and not apartment buildings/ flats.

  5. In general the plan looks good. It fixes a few anomalies I noticed before like the amount of single housing around the Mt Albert train station.

    Also see more of West Auckland has been further upzoned. Even though there is a rail line out there it really suggests the west should have light rail also down the north western motorway. Infrastructure should be where the development is.

    1. Yes, the case for NW LR just got a lot stronger. City, Great North Rd to Pt Chev then up the SH16 corridor…

      The expensive thing about LR is in existing city streets with services below, building along side a m’way is no more expensive than building a busway.

  6. There could have been more High Dwelling Density along the existing Heavy Rail Route and along the planned Light Rail Routes?

  7. Are there limits on what the Council can put in now if the disagree? I mean can they do anything or does their change have to be within scope of someones submission? I am guessing they will want to focus on a few big issues so they dont have to face thousands of appeals.

    1. Any changes they make will have to be within the scope of submissions. Even setting aside that rule, they’ve got a pretty monumental task trying to sift through the whole thing, let alone to devise new provisions on the fly.

      1. I agree. Just figuring pout the differences is hard enough, then they have to decide if they care enough to change it and what to. Twenty days wasn’t much in a 2 year process.

  8. Given the significant upzoning in Royal Oak – Manukau Road areas, I’d hope its LR would be earlier rather than later, and a greater case for it than Mt Eden Road

  9. I understand from several people, though have not seen it in media comments, that demolition controls have been removed. This is a very sad development. As a Wellingtonian who has fought long and hard for these, I would say they are essential for fine-grained control of development and to ensure quality infill. Crucially they mean that the comparative impact on character of the existing and new dwellings need to be considered, If you have no demolition controls the baseline for new stock is simply what is permitted in the Plan, which is in practice a far lower standard.

    The need to compare existing and new exerts a strong upward force on quality (in terms of the public realm, which tends to raise overall standards) of new builds where existing stock is being demolished. Far from being a barrier to densification, they help ensure a higher quality built environnment. There is a huge amount of low quality new build underway in outlying areas of Auckland at the moment, and the removal of demolition controls makes it more likely that densification will also be lower quality in terms of its impact on the public realm.

    I am very sad at the way debate around these issues in Auckland seems to have lost sight of nuance in discussions around densification in the inner city. Demolition controls seem to be associated by many with simply maintaining the status quo. As an RMA Commissioner and as someone with a love of vibrant living cities, the reality is more complex.

    1. You seem to conflate two separate issues – demolition controls (which were based on building age, not quality) and the quality of any new development.

      Also, the extent of the pre-1944 demolition control was not based on the concentration of a certain age of dwellings that still exist, but areas that were initially developed pre-1944.
      The extent of areas worthy of protection was subsequently reduced significantly to areas of identifiable character via an overlay (in which demolition controls do still apply)
      , probably backed up by SHZ, negating the need to protect a significant concentration of 1980s-2000s infill dwellings from the wreckers ball.

      Also, if these character areas are really really really beautiful , why are the rules imposed on everywhere else preclude this built form from being developed, necessitating the protection of these areas from these very rules because such rule complying developments will be ‘out of character’? In other words why do we regulate to preclude the creation of new urban neighbourhoods that replicate at least some of the things that give these areas so much character?

      1. Thank you for clairfying that demo controls do apply in some areas with an overlay classification (as an aside, if that’s what is being used then its nice to see a Treaty Settlements planning initiative being used more widely). I appreciate that.

        When you say

        “negating the need to protect a significant concentration of 1980s-2000s infill dwellings from the wreckers ball”

        are you suggesting that the demolition controls applied to these dwellings? In which case, I am confused. My reading of the plan was that demolition controls were based on streetscape character and heritage and applied only to pre-1944 houses in certain zones. Post-1944 demolition can happen as of right unless they are heritage listed.

        If this is the case then I think you may have misunderstood what I am saying, Demolition controls apply to pre-1944 buildings and the consent process is based on an heritage/character assessment which includes comparison of the existing dwelling and the new proposal. Without that comparison you get a lower quality new build. That’s direct experience in Wellington not an hypothesis 🙂

        So here are two scenarios

        1) With demo controls

        You need 1) consent to demolish and AC can influence streetscape impact and quality of new build even if it fits the rules for permitted new developments

        2) Without demo controls

        You can build as of right within the rules for permitted new developments. AC has no say over streetscape impact and quality

        My observation is simply that you get a better public realm and intensification under Scenario 1 than Scenario 2.

        Hope that clarifies things a little.

        1. Hi Roland

          I think you’re mixing up a couple of separate things.

          The notified version of the Unitary Plan included two different overlays with demolition controls: the “special character” area, which covered areas like Devonport and Ponsonby with the most well-documented and consistent historic built form, and the “pre-1944 overlay”, which extended considerably further into suburbs where there was less information on buildings’ age and quality.

          The rationale behind the pre-1944 overlay was to control demolition on an *interim* basis to allow a proper assessment of the buildings in those areas. That was undertaken in the hearings process, resulting in the recommendation to create some additional areas of special character overlay and to remove the pre-1944 overlay from the rest.

          Demolition consent requirements will still apply in special character areas. They just won’t be expanding to additional places where there isn’t clear evidence of a consistent historic built form.

          1. Thanks for that clarification; you know the details far better than me 🙂

            The impression I had from talking to a couple of folk was that the scope of demolition controls has really been rolled back and it sounds like that is true in as much as they have become much more focussed. My point is simply that, from bitter experience, demolition controls in practice are about the only mechanism to actually control the impact on the public realm of densification. I am certainly not arguing against densification, just poor quality rubbish. As much of the peripheral new build in Auckland seems to fit that bill, I am worried we might see the same in central Auckland!

            Design guides are a bit of weak instrument because the Environment Court has put quite tight reigns on the way they can influence a project. We see this in Wellington’s CBD quite a bit.

            In Wellington it wasn’t just the loss of existing housing stock, it was the rubbish that was appearing in its place, that motivated the pre-1930s demolition controls that are quite common here.

            My comment was meant to address the quality of new build issue. As far as I can tell there is nothing to stop poor quality development in the areas where demolition controls have been removed. One alternative would be to make all builds discretionary restricted in terms of design but (as noted above) this approach which applies in Wellington’s CBD has real limits.

          2. Roland – I think there is another factor that determines the design quality, the buyer and the amount of money they have available to dictate quality. I think in the past those who have more money have tended to be focused on single dwellings, which often means doing up a villa, whereas those who have ended up in higher density housing have done so more out of necessity, so are not in a position to dictate quality. However, I think there is now a latent demand amongst those who have more disposable income to live in higher density housing for lifestyle benefits. I think this alone will drive an improvement in design quality.

          3. I think they went the wrong way with heritage. Given that the best land was developed first and then land near tram stops radiating outwards etc then a better way to intensity would be to set an age for housing at which you are free to knock it over and build apartments. If it was a 100 years threshold then anything built in 1916 or prior could as of right be demolished and replaced with whatever you want. The benefit would be an expanding zone following the original development of the city. Buyers who don’t want apartments next door could find the age of the houses and know how many years of protection they had left. Developers could likewise target areas just before the housing stock turned 100. No one would need a hearing, the housing stock would increase and the most convenient areas would grow first and before you know it there would be apartments along all the old tram routes. Perfect for light rail.

          4. Roland – as far as I can tell, the geographic extent of demolition controls hasn’t been reduced relative to the previous district plans – in fact, it’s expanded in a few areas. However, the pre-1944 overlay, which *did not* exist in previous plans and which was intended as an *temporary* measure to allow heritage assessments to be done, hasn’t been upheld by the IHP.

            Basically, the fear that the IHP’s recommendations will accelerate demolition in heritage areas is a bit of a storm in a teacup.

            On this point: “demolition controls in practice are about the only mechanism to actually control the impact on the public realm of densification”: As I’ve written before, development responds to the street environment around it. The best way to improve the quality of development is to improve streets as places to walk and cycle. Far better to focus on that, rather than trying to freeze buildings in aspic.

    2. This is Auckland, we don’t really have many buildings worthy of heritage protection. Even many of the century old villas aren’t really worthy either. Sure some look nice but apart from a few places like Franklin Road there isn’t much point when we could be building nicer medium density buildings. Wellington is a different story… much smaller city and much slower growth, it doesn’t need to remove heritage type buildings to accommodate increased density. Might be a different story in 30 years time but by then they will be able to better pick and choose which buildings to save.

      1. Ha ha – oh dear; when I contributed to the New Urbanist Charter, one of the things discussed was the importance of the stories urban form tells each generation and the extent to which stories can exist across generations. A major negative of huge clearance and reconstruction drives (not saying that is what is planned here, just talking generally for now) is the break that occurs between generations which has a negative impact on community fabric. Heritage, amenity and streetscape are perspectives on this whole – sustainable communities. So its not just whether something has heritage value in some objective sense but the role that buildings and collections of buildings play in creating and maintaining identity. This is hard to be precise about but just because something is fuzzy doesn’t mean it isn’t important.

        I have walked, trained and bussed quite a bit around central Auckland in recent years and the thing that strikes me is not the protection given to heritage but the large amount of land given over to 1) road space and 2) light industrial areas in quite close proximity to the CBD. Both of these strike me as higher priorities for intensification than removing large amounts of existing housing stock. I am not saying keep everything (god forbid) just that demolition controls are about the only mechanism in New Zealand for enabling these intangible but important issues to be considered.

        1. All of the light industry you are talking about has been rezoned to allow housing. It is already being converted too.

          Your comments about inter-generational relations is interesting. Do you think it is worth guaranteeing that no one under 30 ever owns a house to make sure they live in the same sort of house as their parents rather than allowing most to live in that sort of house at some stage and allowing most to own property?

          1. Glad to hear that light industrial has been rezoned; haven’t seen much change in the last 18 months but I guess people are waiting for the Plan 😉 I really liked the plan to reclaim the Dominion Rd interchange that came out the other month!!

            There’s nothing like a leading question with inbuilt assumptions 🙂 My point is that I don’t think that trade off you postulate between affordability and existing dwellings is real. The challenge I see with densification in Auckland is not primarily zoning but a combination of a lack of leadership (there’s plenty of land where high quality density could be being built right now and isn’t) and major issues with supply chain costs and innovation in the building industry.

            To raise an equally leading question – why do you think people under 30 ought to be forced to live in rubbish developments with no sense of community or connection?

            If I can perhaps draw a comparison – since National removed the ability to provide blanket protection of trees, Auckland has lost vast amounts of urban greenery (saw an aerial last year – possibly produced by Jazmax??). That has made building rubbish easier but has done nothing for affordability, despite claims to the contrary at the time.

          2. I’d rather live in a rubbish development that I can afford than a rubbish development that I will be forced to rent. Rubbish developments are nothing to do with zoning. Arguably, if housing is cheaper then developers will have to build high quality to sell new houses at profit.

          3. I find the idea of protecting trees in an urban environment utterly absurd. It just leads to perverse incentives where people don’t plant trees anymore because they don’t want to get stuck with them, or they make sure they chop them down before they get to the height limit. All that should be mandated is minimum permeable surfaces, then people can choose what they want to do with them, some will want gardens, some will want lawns and some will want trees, meaning it will all balance out in the end.

        2. I tend to agree with you regarding your comment ‘the role that buildings and collections of buildings play in creating and maintaining identity’. However, I think it is important that identity is able to evolve. I often find the most interesting and identifiable areas are those which have an interesting mixture of buildings, which I think evolves best when restrictions and rules are at a minimum, allowing those who want to build something new to do it and those who want to keep their villa to do so. In contrast, new suburbs and areas with heritage restrictions often look quite homogeneous.

  10. “As mentioned earlier, the Rural Urban Boundary (RUB) stays but it has been changed significantly, both in scale and how it will work in future.”

    It is even bigger and more sprawlly than the PAUP. It adds land supply to the exurbs at an astonishing rate, but it does add a bit more to Auckland City – which is the little bit of good news amongst the gloom. Overall its purpose is to continue restricting land supply to Auckland City, force Auckland land costs upwards.

    “One key change is the IHP say the exact location of it should be decided at the district plan level. That means it could be changed in the future through private plan changes. That makes it a soft boundary and as I mentioned yesterday, could make it more difficult to plan big infrastructure projects.”

    Political blame shifting is being attempted. The council created the PAUP because they wanted to sprawl like crazy, their IHP has now recommended more crazy spending. They have decided that future changes will be at the district plan level, because that will mean it becomes some other persons problem, that person can be both powerless and blameworthy. Infrastructure spending on mega-sprawl Auckland is go. Let us all bow down before the mega sprawl.

  11. Whilst the plan does address a lot of issues around the housing crisis it doesn’t do much for the main bugbear of the city, which is the transport crisis. A lot of the areas now zoned for high density house in the west, south – and particularly the east – do not have suitable public transport links (or even plans for future suitable public transport links.)

    In 2045 we might live in a city where everybody has a house but nobody can get to work.

    1. The plans are there. They in large have been sent to the back room in with priority placed on projects like the East-West Link, Reeves Rd flyover and Mill Road (aka SH1 East).

    2. Whilst the plan does address a lot of issues around the housing crisis it doesn’t do much for the main bugbear of the city, which is the transport crisis.

      Answer: road pricing

      1. “Whilst the plan does address a lot of issues around the housing crisis it [legally can not] do much for the main bugbear of the city, which is the transport crisis”

        Fixed that for you.

    3. Because planning transport links (and infrastructure like services, schools, etc) isn’t the job of the UP – once the UP is in place, all that other planning is then informed by the UP.

  12. You may recall the Auckland Plan development strategy had a 70:40 split, up to 60-70% of development occurring within the existing urban area and 30-40% occurring on greenfield land. Yet thanks to council getting scared of the noisy groups opposing housing, the PAUP as effectively flipped those numbers around. While the IHP have recommended that spatial distribution be deleted, the changes above have helped to return the Unitary Plan to that level.

    I do not agree. The rate of Auckland construction is slow, because there is an elevated construction cost (Land Cost) that is layered upon all development in the Auckland City area. This structurally high cost means that our rate of construction fails to come close to contemporary cities. Now the IHP could have focussed on cutting this cost to make us competitive, but didn’t – opportunity lost.

    The Auckland Plan was based on real numbers at the time and was not “theoretical”. Now the IHP has redone the calculations based on real numbers at this time and labelled this plan “feasible”. However since both plans short supply land to Auckland City, the structural cost of land is going to continue to elevate relative to value.

  13. The real restraint on dwelling construction is that no-one is building ahead of the curve. Smaller builders naturally shy away from this risk and the corporate builders know that higher profits come from building behind the curve so we really need Housing new Zealand to step up and launch a MASSIVE dwelling construction scheme to help us firstly catch the curve and then get ahead of it. That they will use the corporates to do the building and and leave the smaller builders to do the bespoke private work everyone is happy except our current government who see this as the worst form of socialism.

  14. Reading though the residental development rules, the height to boundary rule seem to encourage building terrence house on narrow site by sharing common wall to the next site.

    The issue is, to get the both direction of adjoin site’s owner approval. Who is going to initiate the negotiations?

    Lets say the next site agrees, but the next site’s next site also needs to agree. It is like a chain or domino effect. To kick off terrance house development, the whole street needs to develop. If one troubled owner refused, nothing gets built.

    So now we get a interlocked where no owner willing to initiate the development.

    1. Same as ever, a developer will try to stitch something together by offering a couple of owners a conditional deal. Otherwise they’ll look for some parcels of poorly utilized land to redevelop.

  15. With this large increase in population and area (particularly the satellite cities – Warkworth, HBC, Dairy Flat etc) are there any plans to build a new hospital to the north of Auckland?
    North Shore Hospital gets very busy and it now services about 5x the population it did when it was built without too much expansion having happened. From Silverdale to Takapuna is 26km meaning even hypothetically at 120km/h – which is unlikely it will take at least 13 minutes to reach the hospital in perfect conditions. In reality it would likely be more like 20 minutes. It is a further 28km to Warkworth (even with the motorway extension and perfect conditions it will take at least 27 minutes and more like 40 minutes). That is quite a long time to reach hospital… sure there are helicopters but they are expensive and can’t be relied on.

    Building a hospital around Silverdale or even Warkworth would take pressure off North Shore Hospital and would reduce the time/distance for people to get to hospital especially with a larger population. It would also provide a bit of redundancy in the event of some natural disaster hitting North Shore/Auckland – ie volcanic eruption, terrorist strike, epidemic etc.
    Another benefit would be that it would provide a good source of jobs in that area/result in less people commuting from those areas into Auckland for work…

    Just a thought anyway seeing as how we are talking about Auckland growing.

    1. Might be time for a merger of the Auckland DHBs so that they can be planned in the most logical places, rather than just which DHB has the funds available.

      1. Not sure hospital… yes it could use a satellite site. I don’t think those decisions are made exclusively by DHBs tho. Central gov gets involved in that capital allocation.

    2. That’s actually not long for many people to reach there nearest hospital. In many rural areas the time to a hospital is measured in hours, not minutes, so it does not warrant a full blown hospital. What is needed however is a 24hr emergency facility for low level trauma, accidents etc. Something where 90% of people can go to and be sorted, and with the remaining being stabilised, given emergency assessment etc and then shipped on to the full blown hospital by ambulance, or helicopter.

      1. @David, that goes along with having a low rural population. In these examples however we are talking about rapidly growing areas like Warkworth, Hibiscus Coast, Pukekohe etc. Each of these will have a population bigger than entire districts in many rural areas.

  16. I like it. A nice balance between intensification and the inevitable urban sprawl. I just hope the city plans appropriately for the necessary public transport modes to connect the new towns out in Auckland’s Near Abroad. You can’t just rely on motorways to connect those far horizons.

    Also, if clowns like Richard Burton and Auckland 2040 are considering legal action over it, then I am absolutely for it.

  17. ‘all other areas will have minimums applied’ – but are they the same minimums? I thought i read somewhere that residential was now 1 off street per house, whereas before in PAUP it was 2.

    1. Residential
      -THAB no minimum
      -Mixed Urban, studio & 1 bed – no minumn. 2+ bedrooms, one car park,
      -Mixed Suburban studio & 1 bed 0.5 car. 2+ beds = 1 car
      All other areas 1 per dwelling

      That’s much lower that what was required in the PAUP? Certainly for Single house thats down from 2 per dwelling.

      Page 15 http://unitaryplan.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/Images/AUPIHP%20Recommended%20Plan-July%202016/Chapter%20E%20Auckland-wide/4.%20Infrastructure/E27%20Transport.pdf

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