Yesterday the Government released a discussion document on a “National Policy Statement for Urban Development”. This represents a pretty big shakeup to how our planning system guides urban development and the provision of housing.

A new approach to urban planning designed to allow our cities to make room for growth has today been released by Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford and Environment Minister David Parker.

“Our cities are failing. Restrictive planning is stopping our cities from growing, driving up the price of land and housing, and is one of the big drivers of the housing crisis,” Phil Twyford said.

“We need a new approach to planning that allows our cities to grow up, especially in city centres and around transport connections. We also have to allow cities to expand in a way that protects our special heritage areas, the natural environment and highly productive land.

“When overly restrictive planning creates an artificial scarcity of land, or floor space in the case of density limits, you simply drive up the price of housing and deny people housing options.

Phil Twyford said the proposed National Policy Statement on Urban Development would direct councils – particularly in the six high growth centres of Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown – to free up their planning rules while focusing on high-quality streets, neighbourhoods and communities.

“We know that it is possible to create high and medium density communities with good urban design and open spaces that will reassure the most sceptical NIMBY. We also know that with good planning and transport infrastructure, growth on the fringes of the city can avoid the pitfalls of sprawl.

The ‘case for change’ is pretty strong here. Over a sustained period of time our cities have struggled to build enough houses to meet demand and we’ve struggled to lay out our urban areas in ways that make it easy, safe and attractive to travel around any way other than by car.

National Policy Statements play an important role in our land-use planning system. They are the main way in which central government can influence what’s included in District Plans – like Auckland’s Unitary Plan. Because planning documents like the Unitary Plan determine what can be built where, they have a profound impact on shaping our future towns and cities.

Historically governments have been reluctant to get involved too much in land-use planning, leaving it to local councils. That’s changed quite a lot in recent years under both the previous government and now this government. The previous government developed a “National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity”, which focused on ensuring land-use plans provided sufficient capacity for future growth. The new NPS takes this substantially further:

There’s a lot of important detail in the specific wording of the plan that requires more detailed analysis from others, but the most important changes are those proposed within the “Making room for growth in RMA plans” sub-heading above. Some of the most important changes seem to be:

  • A much more comprehensive definition of what a ‘quality’ urban environment is, including specific reference to how change over time can be good rather than just being a bad thing. This includes adjustments to how ‘amenity’ is defined that reflects how amenity values can change over time. I think that this is an important change to make as current planning guidance is very much on ‘minimising any harm from change’, which might make sense in a natural environment but is nonsensical in urban areas as change and development is essential in housing our population and enabling economic growth.
  •  There’s much more specific guidance about how councils need to provide for intensification in District Plans. A few different options are proposed, but the general thrust is to require areas close to good public transport and active transport infrastructure be rezoned for higher density development. This is potentially the most important and substantial change as it provides a key opportunity to do what the Unitary Plan should have done in upzoning more areas that are close to high quality public transport. Here are the options:

  • Changes to how off-street parking is regulated, particularly through removing the ability of councils to apply minimum parking requirements. We’ve written a lot over the years about how these are terrible planning rules that undermine housing affordability, subsidise car dependency and make it nearly impossible to design quality urban environments. While the Unitary Plan went a long way towards reducing or removing parking minimums, the remnants of these stupid rules is still creating harm and nearly stopped a really innovative housing development in Grey Lynn from happening. A series of options are proposed, with the most logical one appears to be option 2 – as option 3 largely reflects the current Auckland Unitary Plan (so the policy wouldn’t achieve anything more in Auckland, although obviously still be useful elsewhere) while option 1 would ban parking maximums, which are an important demand manage tool in places like Auckland’s city centre where it’s critical we discourage car trips.

So far so good, and in fact a lot of these changes are pretty exciting and align strongly with what we’ve been pushing for over many years.

Unfortunately, quite a bit of this good work is then undermined by what the discussion document says about greenfield development.

We’ve been critical of Phil Twyford’s approach to greenfield areas for a long time now, highlighting how removing the Rural Urban Boundary in Auckland won’t actually help accelerate housing development, and also highlighting on many occasions the negative effects of sprawl.

Reading between the lines of the text above I get the feeling that the authors struggled to be convinced by the argument, outlining the importance of well integrated and coordinated growth plans and the need to avoid major environmental costs from how we develop – the very reasons why ‘out of sequence’ greenfield growth is a dumb idea. But then with a bit of vague ‘hand waving’ about being responsive to demand and reflecting dynamic and complex systems (without explaining what they mean by any of this) the National Policy Statement essentially says that it’s fine to go and set up sprawly neighbourhoods in the middle of nowhere. It’s a poorly developed and very disappointing policy that contradicts so much of what the government is trying to achieve, especially in relation to transport.

One possible saviour is that the criteria for approving an ‘out of sequence’ development are likely to be nearly impossible to meet, especially in terms of providing these areas with good transport choice and requiring that developers cover the full infrastructure costs of their developments, including wider costs on trunk transport and water infrastructure.

Despite this poorly developed policy about greenfield areas, the rest of the National Policy Statement generally seems really good and has the potential in Auckland to really set the scene for how we can build off the Unitary Plan and further improve our land-use plans to help fix our chronic housing and transport problems.

We’ll keep digging through the documents over the next few weeks. There’s more information on the Ministry for the Environment’s website and submissions are open until October 10th.

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78 comments

  1. Good points here. An oversupply of parking (particularly off-street). Has huge impacts on urban form and induces demand for people to drive. If parking was properly priced to remove the subsidy for the motorist. You would find alot more mode shift occurring and less unnecessary trips, which would lower vkt.

    You have to wonder if Auckland Council even thinks about total parking supply? Most of the cbd is off street parking (with more coming Sky City, Les Mills) flies in the face of increased pedestrisnisation etc. Like wider roads… increased parking induces demand…

      1. Yea great article. Thanks for sharing. This really sums it up for me

        The problem with cars is space, and in cities, space is scarce. But we don’t see that tradeoff when parking is free: we see parking itself as a scarce resource that needs protecting. Once parking has a price, we see more clearly that parking is not just a thing of value, but also a burden.

  2. Getting rid of the ridiculous view shafts which slice and dice Auckland’s development land would be a good start. View shafts from intersections and roads should be completely deleted from the planning maps.

    1. + 1 Especially the viewshafts from motorways. They are just ridiculous. The benefit must be minuscule compared to the opportunity cost of missing development.

    2. +1 and some of the special character overlay.

      Love how it says, high Density must be within 800m of walkable catchment for frequent PT….except where evidence demonstrates intensification is not suitable. Looking forward to seeing the evidence, actual evidence that would shouldn’t build apartments in Grey Lynn, Remuera, Epsom, Dominion Road etc..

      1. I don’t know which option they’ll go with for that, but it would be interesting to see Council having to provide evidence, wouldn’t it? I’m thinking of places like at-grade carparks, too…

        I actually think this can really empower Council, against the often regressive Environment Court, that seems to consider increased traffic an environmentally good outcome.

      2. I assume the aim is to permit heritage areas to exist. Hayes Paddock in Hamilton East is one case the local council will seek to preserve.

    3. There is a particularly daft viewshaft to and from the steps of the museum. It is still applied despite the fact the trees in the Domain have long since grown to a point where they block the protected view.

    4. The volcanoes are one of the main features of the Auckland landscape. I would go as far as saying they are the most unique feature of Auckland’s landscape.
      The view shafts are one of the best pieces of long term planning that has ever been implemented by a council in Auckland in my opinion.
      Sure, argue about the details of them. But get rid of them all, that is just short term ignorance.

  3. You have to see the funny part of all this. For years left leaning politicians have made more and more rules making it more difficult to build houses. (Let’s make them collect rainwater in tanks and have a second plumbing system to use it, lets make them filter stormwater, let’s make greenfields growth as difficult as possible, let’s make them keep anything older than 50 years.) Each time they figured it would have no effect on supply. Then Mr Twyford comes along and over-promises housing, thinking it can’t be difficult, all you have to do is tell someone to build them. Two years later and a few houses built in areas that didn’t need them and it dawns on him that maybe there are too many rules now.
    This is probably the only tangible benefit of the failed Kiwibuild policy. Some progressive types found out how hard it is to get anything built.

    1. I am pretty sure Phil has always known how hard it is to build houses in Auckland. Also clearly there has been a huge amount of work in producing this document which must have predated Phil losing the Ministry of Housing

    2. Too true Miffy. And despite the rhetoric I think the current government would struggle to actually makes things easier for development, it’s just not in their nature. Any ‘loosening’ of the planing rules will no doubt be off set with sustainable building requirements making things just as expensive if not more so.

      1. recently announced NPS on protection of soils being an example.

        I accept there may be external value from protecting certain types of soils, although I’m not convinced regulation (rather than say a price signal) is the optimal policy response.

  4. Call my cynical, but I can see a lot of parkland and green spaces twenty minutes from the CBD being built over in the name of intensification now while certain inner city suburbs which shall remain nameless get to retain their ‘character’ status while also have access to premium transport options.

    1. Cynicism comes easily to me, too, but this document does present quite a bit of promise on that front. There’s a good section that calls out the current biases. I think you should submit, Buttwizard.

  5. Thanks for a thoughtful article. It seems obvious that, on the whole, the public are excluded from the process of deciding what we want our city to look like, and we are left with the fake “feedback” channels where discussion and deliberation are all but impossible and Government/Council simply cherry pick a few bits to pretend they have “listened”. Let the inhabitants of Auckland look at the issues through a citizens’ assembly, listening to the experts and stakeholders etc. but deciding after thorough discussion what they want this city to look like. Get into the 21st century.

    1. Auckland has just been through a long winded process where anyone who could be bothered got to submit on the Unitary plan and have their views considered in detail by a panel who then asked questions and then went off and made decisions. An outcome of that process is the future urban form and parking rules that reflected what the public wanted. Now the ministers have decided they don’t like it so they want to ride rough-shode over it all. The people are entitled to wonder why the f**k they bothered submitting.

      1. What’s so special about ‘f..king’ submitters.

        There is evidence that submitters are not representative of Auckland’ society.

        1. Perhaps you want to live in a society where the people get no say but I don’t. The submissions process is the only formal means of consultation we have where each one must be considered. We need to increase it not reduce it.

  6. Can’t say I’m a big fan of removing all MPRs.

    Maybe in a prefect world this would work, however in the real world we live in this will simply mean more cars parked on footpaths etc.

    If you go to any modern development you will see that most properties are down to the minimum of two, and with the garage being used as storage or another bedroom it means they effectively only have 1. You then factor in most houses have 2 or more cars meaning all the community visitor car parks are full of residents resulting in people parking in ever more creative places.

    One positive about the kiwibuild homes is that they removed the garages and provided two outdoor parking bays. This reduced the cost of the home and prevented the garage being used as storage and hence its only the 3+ car households that end up parking on the footpaths.

    1. I agree that these problems arise but there are other ways to solve them than some blunt rule that states houses must have x number of car parks even if they are not used.

      Time limited street parking would ensure it is available for visitors rather than residents storage, while enforcement can deal with car parking on the footpath.

      1. The issue there jezza is the enforcement.

        My development has an 8 hour time limit for the on-street parking, however some vehicles park there for months on end. The council only enforces the city centres and so even if a vehicle is parked on yellow no stopping lines you need to contact the council several times and wait a number of months before they send out a parking warden to put some tickets on a window.

        For most of the city you can actually get away double parking, as in right next to another parked car. Even when people are reported doing this its simply too much effort for the council to send someone out.

        The last time we had an abandoned car in our neighborhood it took the council roughly 9 months to go through the level process of getting it towed.

        1. I agree enforcement isn’t currently up to scratch, but the solution to that is to improve enforcement not build an entire set of planning rules around it.

          My experience with AT is different to yours, when I call them about a car parked on the footpath they will generally ticket it within the hour. It might be because they know a trip to my street will usually net them multiple offenders.

        2. AT’s stated practice is to enforce only when a complaint comes in, which is not in line with their operational guidelines nor their parking strategy nor their legal responsibilities. In case they decided to do so for financial reasons, I asked if they have done a business case or analysis to compare proactive and reactive enforcement. They have not. So this decision not to enforce except on a complaint, is an entirely subjective decision by somebody, without any rationale.

          They also will not even enforce illegal parking of a car in a vehicle crossing, even though they accept it is illegal, unless the resident of the adjacent property is the person who made the complaint. There is no policy, law, regulation or operational guideline that instructs them to do this. Again, this is an entirely subjective decision by somebody, without any rationale.

          Both these decisions have safety and amenity consequences, and so by making these random decisions, AT are going against their own stated priorities of improving safety and creating nicer streetscapes that are more inviting for people.

          I haven’t looked into the abandoned car situation. That sounds pretty dire, too.

        3. I sent in a complaint about this street here we the residents fill all the on-street parking and then the cafe workers double park blocking the street. You also get people parking between the parking bays.

          All this narrows the street down and blocks sight lines making it less safe for everyone.

          In order to do anything, even paint no stopping lines where your obviously not meant to park, they had to send out an officer to see if they needed to do anything. 2 years latter nothing has happened and its still an issue.

          https://goo.gl/maps/gjRwUoBcDsKaXhX79

        4. Addison in Takanini is terrible – Higher density than normal suburbia but still car dominant
          I considered a town house there but after a walk through on the weekend, with cars parked all over the curbs, berms and green strip areas I re-considered

        5. I live in a dense area in flatbush, and everything is okay. The even denser three-story area up the road, is also okay. Tho at least compared to our current crappy car-dependent suburbs. They are on the least crappy-side, in my experience.

    2. The solution to the footpath problem is enforcement, and AT must start fulfilling its responsibilities soon. Much of it is so easily solved – these excess cars are often not even used much. Companies need to make it easier for their staff to use company cars for personal trips so they don’t have to own another one. People sometimes hang on to cars they no longer need just because selling them is a hassle and they can’t get as much for them as they thought they’d be worth. And a lot of people are parking on the street or footpath because they think that’s easier than making their flatmate have to move their car to let them out. Enforcement might also make people rationalise their stuff in their garages so they do have room on their properties.

      The modern developments I’ve been watching are all providing fewer carparks than apartments, with the carparks no longer provided with the apartment but as an additional extra. In general, priced between $35,000 and $60,000.

      I know it would cost more, but I think attached garages should have to have underfloor insulation so they can be converted to living space. In reality, it’s what’s happening, and too many kids are playing in converted garages that are freezing.

      1. I think you’re talking about two different things.

        On one hand I don’t think MPRs should apply to apartment buildings, and as you say they come as extra and a generally located within walking distance of what people need.

        Why you would want to provide underfloor heating to the basement carpark of an apartment building however I don’t know, so I suspect you’ve jumped onto standard houses now.

        From what I’ve been seeing, each house has one car for each adult. You then add in work vehicles and weekend vehicles like 4x4s and you get a house with 1 usable carpark (because the garage is a storage room) with 3 to 5 cars. A somewhat common sight in many neighborhoods even though they may have good PT and active transport connections.

        For the vast majority of these people they had no choice in the number of carparks they had, they could either buy a house for <$1million with 2 carparks or start looking in the $2million range to get a house where they have some choice in the size and design of what they are getting.

        1. Why do you think the houses are more expensive with a little more carparking? Is it the choice you mention; that it becomes a custom house, because it’s outside the developer’s standard offering? I’m just wondering because an extra car park or two would normally only add a little extra to the price, I would’ve thought, not change it from a <$1m to a $2m range house.

        2. From what you have described street parking is a problem now and will continue to be one (potentially getting worse) with MPRs being removed.

          This makes a very strong case for enforcement being significantly improved on what it is now, it doesn’t really make much of a case for keeping MPRs.

        3. The issue Heidi is that the developers are generally in the business of maximising return, so to this extent they try to make the sections as small as possible and the houses as large as possible. This means most developments targeted towards the average home owner come with fixed sites that have the houses already designed and little scope for the buyer to change things. If allowed developers will more than happily build homes with 1 or no car parks and then families with 2 or 3 cars will buy them as they have little choice. This is pretty much what already happens and so can pretty much be expected to continue.

          If you move onto larger developments targeted at the high end they are still based on putting as much house on as little section as possible.

          It is only once you get into the design and build situation that you have the choice in the number of carparks you have and how much free lane you have. To get into the realm of design and built you either need to be miles out of the city to find developments that have sections larger than 300m2 or be spending large amounts of money to buy an existing section and redevelop it as you please.

        4. I disagree Jezza, it makes more of a case for MPRs than any case that has been presented for removing them.

        5. To fill all the street spaces as you say the residents do, Richard, you’re talking about many or most of the households in your street ‘needing’ this extra carparking space. That’s not a small market, then. That’s most of the people who bought, in the same situation as you: actually wanting to pay a bit more for extra carparking. Correct? Why then would the developers not be providing for this market?

          My theory – correct me if I’m wrong – is that they don’t want to pay the extra price for the extra carparking space, because they prefer to use the public realm to park their cars instead. And that’s because we’re subsidising them to do so. We’re allowing carparking there, instead of other modes, and we’re not charging market value for the space.

          Seems to me we need to make some hard decisions about the public realm and start allocating it to the healthy modes, and charging the full cost of the provision of parking. And enforce, of course. When people can’t park for free, they will either put pressure on developers to provide the slightly bigger sections with more parking, and the developers will provide this, at a slightly higher cost.

          Or the people will switch to other modes.

        6. As I noted about Hedi, developers are in the business of making money. To that extent, if they can show a nice spacious house at a low price that is what gets most peoples attention, from my experience very few people seem to think about parking or storage when buying or renting a house (as strange as that sounds). To that extent there is next to no reason for a developer to provide parking as the handful of astute shoppers are more than offset by the throngs just needing something.

          In my development we have a split from both before an after the unitary, on my street (from before the unitary plan) we have visitor parking bays that are essentially full of resident cars. In the new area (after the unitary plan) there is zero visitor parking and so the grass berms of now nothing but mud and you generally need to walk on the road as the footpath is covered in parked cars.

          You also got people parking their cars on their laws even though this is prohibited.

          You can pretty much go to any new development and see the colossal failure these aspirational changes have had. (Naturally this depends on the time of day, if you’re trying to sell your house in one of these places get people to visit in the middle of the work day when most people are away).

        7. I saw twenty cars parked on the footpath at a house along a 4-lane arterial road a few weeks ago. Maybe we should change all arterials with houses along them into access streets, or maybe we could just meet somewhere else? Like at a gazillion other places in Auckland…

          Lets stop forcing this ideology of ‘everyone needs two visitor parking spaces!’, and just let people ask their neighbours or something to borrow a space for a day or so? Just ask nicely, it’s that simple Or you know, take a train, bus, etc? If they don’t want to, I’ll ring up AT on hot dial and get them down there like a hot pancake (lots of fines, lol). My commuting route is pretty much orderly now since I’ve started doing this. Only a few a month, really.

          This is the effect of removing minimums: not stunting better use of space from the getgo, and better use of existing parking spaces that should be used but not because of laziness or just excess. Tho not all at once, the former being an immediate benefit for market choice. for example. As I ride my bike along director roads and access streets, all I see is huge gaps in on-street parking, which could be used for a bus-lane or cycleway. Let’s not even get into that even the new dense houses have like FOUR spaces to park car off-street.

          Removing minimum isn’t gonna wreck havoc too. Things will stay the same for YEARS. People will start to use the spaces more intelligently, some parking space will be removed a bit over there. And some over here. And a tad over there. It will take decades, plenty of time for a transport cultural change.

          Momentum will also keep developers building more parking, like now for a long time. Maybe someone will get the idea to try sometime different tho? Because such ideas aren’t being smothered by these minimums. Minimums stagnate alternatives.

          Let’s not even get into shops needed car parking the same size as the shop itself, even next to PT hubs… dumb. *cough* Manukau *cough*

          We need to build choice (especially some focusing on kids), not something that just says ‘nah just build four hundred car parks, she’ll be right, everyone’s a driver deep down :)’

          More information on what would happen from short to long terms: http://www.citybeautiful.nz/2019/08/a-world-without-minimums/

        8. “Lets stop forcing this ideology of ‘everyone needs two visitor parking spaces!’”

          What ideology is this you refer to?

          I’ve been referring to my development where each house had a 1 single car garage and a driveway long enough to fit one car. Visitor parking was a shared community asset averaging about 1 per house.

          The issue was that the majority of houses have 2 or more cars and use their garage as storage and therefore park 1 or more cars on the street. As this exceeds the parking available it results in people parking on footpaths, berms of front laws.

          In the newer section designed using the new unitary plan there is the same provision of 2 off street parks per house but zero visitor spaces. So my development, and most others designed over the past 5 years are simply getting ever increasing numbers of cars parked all over the show as the developments fill up.

          So the changes to parking requirements so far have detracted from the urban form and made it more dangerous to be a pedestrian or cyclists. Going further in this direction will only make the issues worse, in my view.

    3. the number of vehicles people choose to own is not relevant to the merits of minimums. The more relevant question is whether it’s efficient to bundle the costs of parking into the costs of development.

      I’d argue it’s usually not.

      Your point on enforcement is more relevant, I think. Regardless of where the NPS-UD lands, NZ needs to update our antiquated legislation relating to the management of public parking. I understand, for example, that current legislation means Councils can only charge a reasonable “administration fee” for public parking permits, not the market price.

      That’s why a parking permit in St Mary’s Bay costs ~$100 p.a. and there is an excess of demand. For $100 p.a. you’d be stupid not to get all the permits you are entitled to.

      In comparison, Amsterdam charges ~$2,000 p.a.

      I’m hoping the discussion on the NPS-UD results in broader support for reforming how NZ manages parking.

      1. Hi Stu, I think your trying to detract from the issue using isolated historic neighborhoods as a deciding factor in new developments. Sure MPRs in the city centre and other highly developed areas make little sense, and providing excessive parking at destinations does encourage driving. However we’re talking about new developments which are primarily green fields or brown fields out of the city centre.

        To this extent MPRs should be highly related to the typical ownership rates of households, both including personal and work vehicles. Failure to appreciate this results in the mess we are in where people park all over the footpaths and without a 100,000 strong legion of parking enforcers there is little we can do.

        Even with said legion it requires property owners to complain, and given it is often their own car parked across the footpath they are unlikely to do so.

        1. Parking provision influence car ownership and car use. Research shows that access to private or reserved parking triples the rate of car ownership. So in terms of reducing vehicle travel, it’s an important design consideration.

        2. Hedi, that is quite possibly why I said this

          “Sure MPRs in the city centre and other highly developed areas make little sense, and providing excessive parking at destinations does encourage driving.”

          For example, the best way to stop people driving to CBD is to remove all parking. Obviously that would also have many negative outcomes that may or may not outweigh the benefits. I don’t think it would result in me selling my one car however, neither does the existence of those car parks make me want to buy 2 more cars.

        3. Yes, but it’s also a design consideration in new developments, because that’s where you can achieve really good outcomes. Trip frequency doesn’t drop with access to private parking, but car mode share does. Some researchers are recommending parking in new developments should be at least 100m from houses, and the further the distance, the higher the mode share by sustainable modes.

          However, none of this works while AT refuses to enforce illegal parking. AT are skewing people’s understanding of what people “would do” and thus preventing proper discussion of our alternatives.

        4. That’s some pretty soviet era social engineering doing a blanket ban on parking within 100m of a dwelling. I suspect if developers started going to that extent people would be pretty disgruntled after buying their house to find they can’t park near it, most likely end up with the council or government doing buy backs.

          Anyway, whilst I can appreciate a debate on parking requirements. getting to such fanatical levels of anti-car doctrine is a rather extreme view in my opinion.

        5. What I proposed is hardly at “fanatical levels of anti-car doctrine”, it’s simply giving people choice in neighbourhood types, and using evidence-based planning concepts.

          So you might feel restricted by such measures, but it won’t affect you; your property will remain unchanged. Instead it’ll bring choice to the people who want something different.

          And there are plenty of people who want to live in an area with less car movements, with less land devoted to cars, and with more sustainable transport choices. They are not fanatical, they are simply progressive and aware of the benefits of a safer, less car-based lifestyle.

          I’m not suggesting banning cars. They are useful, in their place. But we do need to accept that what we’ve been doing hasn’t worked. It’s created climate change, an unsafe city, car dependency, and low independent mobility for our children.

          Change is needed, and this NPS will hopefully help that.

        6. I’m sorry Hedi, but putting a ban on parking being within 100m of a dwelling in all future developments is very much an extreme view and I highly doubt it would be based an any real evidence based research unless you got extremely selective and conducted an extremely biased research project.

          For example a study may have shown that having carparks >100m from university dorms results in lower car ownership of the people in those dorms. But simply taking that research and then applying it to the entire country, or 5 or the largest cities is taking that research miles out of context.

          “And there are plenty of people who want to live in an area with less car movements, with less land devoted to cars, and with more sustainable transport choices. They are not fanatical, they are simply progressive and aware of the benefits of a safer, less car-based lifestyle.”

          This is actually one of the main reasons why I got my house where it is, as the development and street network were designed to make walking and cycling safe and easy. The issue is that hopes and dreams don’t translate into reality and so despite there being limited dedicated parking, people park all over the show.

          Other similar developments like Hobsonville Point are the same, they were designed on a 40% mode share but failed to appreciate that there are almost no jobs in that part of the city so despite the pedestrian and cycle friendly design the private car is still making up to 90% of the demand.

          From my perspective, what separates a typical person who would like to see quiet streets that are safe and easy to walk around, and anti-car religious zealot is the acceptance of balance. Creating different streets based on their function and allowing for different rules in different areas based on the conditions is balanced. Taking a blanket stance of removing all MPRs effectively everywhere and banning all future developments from having parking within 100m of a dwelling is going next level. It’s along the lines of making people choose one day a week that they are allowed to use a car and for all other days they are required to walk or cycle.

          For me personally, if the aim of the game was to get me to take PT to work in Newmarket and not drive, they would need to make it so a train ride doesn’t take close to 2 hours when I can drive in 30-40mins (door to door). Sadly that’s something that will likely never improve.

          On the last point, what change is needed and why?

        7. Richard, formal warning. If you use terms like “soviet era social engineering”, “anti-car religious zealot” and “anti-car doctrine” again, you will be banned. Your arguments are weaker when you add abuse.

          The hopes and dreams often don’t translate into reality. I agree. Most suburbs do not have safe walking and cycling due to the car dominance. And there are systemic reasons behind that. If you’re having to ask what needs to change, when we have a climate emergency, people dying due to our unbalanced, unsafe, unhealthy transport network, and children dependent on their parents to drive them places, I’m not quite sure how to help you.

        8. I apologies for causing you offense, I was using those terms as factual descriptors and they were not intended as abuse. Essentially they’re similar to how you would call someone with very liberal views far left or conversely far right.

          Anyway, now that you’ve moved onto generic virtue signalling I believe the debate on MPRs has ended.

          I appreciate hearing your views on the MPR topic.

        9. In most places there is currently no way to achieve lower car ownership, for the simple reason you need a car to interact with the rest of the city. Getting around without a car is extraordinarily cumbersome (or threatening, depending on which alternative you choose). Why would you bother putting up with the real estate market over here if you’re going to forfeit the access advantage you normally get in a city.

          And of course, if the council allows parking all over the street, then developers can skimp on parking, because why not.

          Hobsonville Point, well, that was easily predictable by anyone who can read a map. The ferry is long and only has one other stop — the city, and any hypothetical crosstown transit is dead in the water for lack of anchors at either end. Especially Westgate is fatally and permanently bungled. If that were developed as a proper town, it could serve as a proper anchor for its own local PT network.

          The place where you’d try to get lower car ownership development is the central suburbs. Driving mode share over there right now is already lower than in most of the rest of Auckland. But, heritage and reasons. Meanwhile the council is very late to the game of making the CBD a bit less absurdly hostile to people on foot. See the situation on the Cook / Nelson Street corner.

        10. I agree roeland, its a simple fact that the vast majority of people like to have access to a car, and its not due to them feeling unsafe walking or cycling but rather it gives them an enormous amount of freedom in terms of movement. It turns the realistic travel distance from a few km into hundreds of km in any direction.

          I suspect that in the coming decades as autonomous flying vehicles come onto the market that we will see this to an even greater extent. You will find commuting from Raglan to Albany actually a viable option that you could do in 30mins. Just like with the automobile however it will be limited to the wealthy for some time.

        11. Forget about flying vehicles — we’re barely able to afford powering cars rolling over the ground. Flying will use many times more energy.

          But indeed, it is hard to live here without a car. But that is not necessarily a natural condition.

          Pay close attention to the context.

          If you live in the CBD it is quite possible to live without driving everywhere. But I don’t live in the CBD anymore, partially because — unlike surrounding areas — the council has been treating it as a slum. Why is that? Surely they’re collecting plenty of rates money over there.

          Or if parking is so desirable, why do we need parking minimums to make it materialize? Partially because you can store a car on the public street. Imagine you sell your car, but occupy the same spot with your garden shed. How would that go down with the rest of society.

          I can’t live in an apartment right in the middle of a town centre because those don’t exist. We have close to zero mixed use buildings in Auckland. You’ll find mixed use in most other parts of the world, so why not here?

          I think there is right now plenty of ‘social engineering’ going on to make driving more desirable than it normally is.

          Perhaps most blatantly, notice the contrast between our Health & Safety legislation on one hand, with how we treat pedestrians and cyclists on the street.

        12. Richard, you do realise that culture and market momentum will keep parking development in the short-term on par with minimums? Things will gradually change over decades as people *choose* to do something different with the space a bit over there, a little bit over here, a tad over there. It is just dumb to lock in huge asphalt deserts like they’re some cultural heritage (which it pretty much is right now with minuims). So much stagnation that could be avoided, if we just didn’t smother different ideas people want to try out. I am sick of these ( most of the time half empty) asphalt seas being forced on us, blocking different urban designs to be even trialed…

        13. Flying cars are actually not far off from general sale, they are essentially large drone what are already extremely common. Many of the “experts” actually believe flying cars will be mass market before fully autonomous cars as they are far simply operating in their own environment.

          “I think there is right now plenty of ‘social engineering’ going on to make driving more desirable than it normally is.” I have to disagree with that, its human nature that makes people drive. In any transport choice people want to do both what is easiest and what satisfies their personal goals. It actually takes a large amount of effort to stop the average person simply driving, be it huge amounts of congestion, parking costs, air pollution or a passionate stance.

          “Or if parking is so desirable, why do we need parking minimums to make it materialize? Partially because you can store a car on the public street. Imagine you sell your car, but occupy the same spot with your garden shed. How would that go down with the rest of society.”

          I’ve already mentioned this above, but effectively the person wanting the parking isn’t really involved in the decision process. They effectively deal with what they get. As I noted above, new developments that provide zero on-street parking have simply resulted in people parking the the berm and footpaths. Some people will claim by not providing parking they have made things safer, but I fail to see how forcing pedestrians to walk on the road to avoid parked cars makes things safer.

          “Perhaps most blatantly, notice the contrast between our Health & Safety legislation on one hand, with how we treat pedestrians and cyclists on the street.”

          Well this just shows how safer doesn’t override personal freedom. If the honest desire was to get the road toll as low as possible pedestrians, cyclists, motorbikes and either other mode of transport that doesn’t put you in a protective bubble would be banned from being in the road corridor unless they are separated by a physical barrier. You would even limit the maximum number of people per vehicle to 1 so that in the event of their being a crash only 1 to 2 people would be involved.

          In reality doing the above is unlikely to be a price the general public would be willing to accept, even if it resulted in almost zero SCIs.

        14. “Richard, you do realise that culture and market momentum will keep parking development in the short-term on par with minimums?”

          I’m afraid this isn’t the case Brandon. As I mentioned above, the part of my development that was consented after the unitary plan removed all on-street parking. This wasn’t a gradual change but rather near on instant in a planning timescale.

          If MPRs are removed tomorrow developments selling houses with zero carparks will being on sale next year. Just like the on-street parking, those with little choice will take what they can get and park wherever they see fit, be on the berm, footpath, or the middle of road.

        15. None. And didn’t claim I had. I’m just frustrated by an unwillingness of policy-makers to price externalities. And soils seems like the latest well-intentioned but ultimately doomed to fail attempt to use regulation to shape behaviour of market participants.

  7. The problem the Cohaus people faced was some particularly stubborn people from AT who struggled to apply some assessment criteria correctly. The evidence put forward for Cohaus said they needed some parking, but not as many spaces as the rules required, and they needed to use some spaces that were available on the street. The assessment criteria in the AUP already provide the means to approve their consent but the AT ‘experts’ took a long time to get there.

  8. Protecting “highly productive land” will at least stop sprawl in the Pukekohe direction. It may well even curtail the current plans.

    1. How highly productive is it if it is worth more for housing than it is for growing vegetables? Land price in part reflects productivity. The real problem is caused by the restrictions on using other land for housing so the developers cut up the elite soils areas instead. Left to the market we would have housing on the poorer soils and veges on the elite. But the Council (and the ARC before) them thought they knew better than the market did. The ARC’s attempt to screw up greenfields development in order to push people towards brownfields sites is the cause. Blame the twits who were at the ARC.

      1. Vegetable growing, and land use planning, are both skewed by the low cost of fossil fuels, and the market cannot decide what use the land should be put to.

        1. Stick on some proper road pricing/ congestion charging and the value of land remote from employment and can only be accessed by car wont be so valuable for housing.

        2. That will probably make it more valuable as people with money to pay the toll will get a fast trip into town so they will be more likely to bid up the land price.

      2. Price signals aren’t always appropriate. Diamonds are worth more than water… except it’s simultaneously true that diamonds aren’t worth more.

        Alternatively consider externalities.

        Not sure how planning to prevent greenfields growth facilitates greenfields growth, though.

  9. Agree with banning minimum parking requirements.

    Not sure about banning height to boundary or height rules. Unintended consequences. For example, granting much more development rights will see land prices soar, pretty much cancelling out the benefits of greater development rights.

    I really do think it’s gone way beyond the point where the government simply needs to build a lot more housing itself (not just social but also affordable housing, as per the original Kiwibuild policy……). Sometimes the current government comes across as The National Party in drag, with it’s almost religious belief in deregulation to solve the woes of the world, including housing.

  10. PC6C Option 2 is pretty lame. Pretty easy out for councils not to enable higher densities, on the basis of things like ‘character’.

  11. Grrr take a look at this. Might as well publish an ad from the National Party.
    Can the GA superheros publish an alternative view?

    “The new Government’s decision to scrap roading projects has led to $3.5 billion of state highway infrastructure going unbuilt… With National’s 10 “Roads of National Significance” effectively in a holding pattern, Treasury is concerned that NZTA is unable to spend all the money it taxes, which is dragging down economic growth.”

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/115195602/the-35-billion-brake-on-the-economy

    1. I may be reading that wrong because I’m tired, but isn’t it saying the problem is more that they’re not spending money rather than they’re not spending money on RoNS?

      The obvious solution here would be for NZTA and Twyford to be more competent and have advanced LRT further… Or accelerate some aspect of the CRL. Spending money is easy. Spending it well is harder… but there are very real reasons to believe that the low inflation post-NAFC world is largely due to governments being too cautious about fiscal policy.

    2. What NZ should be doing now is to start spending on future proofing our regional and national road networks, our national rail network, major ports and coastal communities for increase sea levels and more disruptive weather patterns.

  12. Both this article and the discussion document assume growth is good and necessary. Why? Can sustainable growth continue indefinitely, or for how long?

    1. I think it’s fairer to say they assume growth is happening.

      You can talk about limiting growth all you want but at a certain point you have to realise what this means in practice is quite literally hurting people. You cannot say, “Right, Auckland’s closed, go somewhere else”. People are not and should not be expected to be that mobile.

      The alternative approach is to try and slow things down. But here’s the thing… somewhere that people want to live is somewhere people will want to live. Taking away the factors that cause growth is by practical necessity the same as shutting up shop. And the possibility of anti-natal policies (e.g. a one child policy) is faced with the demographic fiscal cliff at the bottom.

      To go back to the first proposal… expecting people to be that mobile could work with open borders. It would work because birth rates tend to be below replacement so with full labour mobility stable people should end up merely redistributing. Of course, you’d need other countries to have open borders too…

      But you answer your own question… sustainable growth is, by definition, sustainable in the long-term: it’s the reason it’s not growth with no prefixes.

      1. In New Zealand, the natural increase in population is 0.5% and net migration is 1.5%. It’s very difficult to say what is truly sustainable, perhaps it easier to look at what is manageable. The current population growth rate of 2% (twice the world average) has not been managed very well and has caused a lot of knock-on effects for everyone. If it continued, our population would reach 25 million by 2100. I’m not sure that the suggestion of truly open borders for the whole world has been seriously considered by many people.

  13. It is good that the government has come out with a new urban/transport policies after years of short term quick fix urban and transport endeavors. I like the fact there is emphasis on intensification of dwellings within town/city boundaries by using brownfield spaces but I am not happy that councils can go to urban sprawl despite the calls by various councils for climate change emergencies.

    For every kilometre of urban sprawl increases a town/city CO2 foot print and increase in the mean average temperature of a town/city due to increase fossil fuel vehicles, concrete and tarmac roads.

    We need to stop dithering around and beating gums and start developing serious sustainable long term environmental friendly urban and transport planning now, to spread increase population growth due to planet warming.

  14. The density proposals are almost sociopathic. They would lead to the wholesale destruction of heritage, character and urban greenery, while leaving untouched vacant land, car parking land, and low quality commercial developments. In Wellington you would destroy much of what makes Wellington special and unique and many of the areas people love about our city.

    The major effect would be to enrich property developers rather than resolve the housing crisis. It is hard to imagine them surviving a legal challenge based on Part II of the RMA.

    As I have said before I challenge anyone to provide evidence – not anecdotes – hard evidence, to support these statements:

    “Restrictive planning is stopping our cities from growing, driving up the price of land and housing, and is one of the big drivers of the housing crisis,”

    If you are going to tell a lie, make it a big one and keep saying it.

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