On Tuesday in my summary of the upcoming Auckland Transport Board meeting I highlighted the issue of the five significant private plan changes in and around Drury. These plan changes are causing concern as they are ‘out of sequence’ with the current development strategy, a classic move by the sprawl industrial complex. Apart from all the normal issues with enabling more sprawl, such as that it will encourage more driving therefore more congestion and emissions, the major issue here is that if approved it will require the council and AT spend a lot of money to upgrade local networks to support them. That’s an issue in a time when the council doesn’t have any available budget to do that and so could potentially mean other projects get delayed.

The issue is so significant the council is opposing the plan changes unless a deal can be reached..

Auckland Council says it will oppose plans by developers Kiwi Property, Fulton Hogan and Oyster Capital to redevelop Drury unless they can reach an agreement by next year to fund a $1 billion shortfall for infrastructure in the area.

Public submissions on the private plan changes closed on Thursday last week.

Oyster Capital, Fulton Hogan and Kiwi Property are seeking to rezone about 330 hectares in Drury East from future urban to a mix of residential, business and open space zones. A fourth, smaller private plan change to rezone 33.7ha for mixed use housing by Karaka and Drury Consultant Limited was added to the public notification by council officers.

Council officers have said there remains a shortfall of more than $1bn needed to fund the infrastructure for the works to go ahead. That includes $600m for transport-related projects and a further $500m for stormwater, sewerage, parks and community facilities.

The council’s Planning Committee voted to accept the three private plan change requests in July. They have since gone out for public consultation before a series of hearings, which are expected to be held next year.

Auckland Council chief of strategy Megan Tyler said the authority wants to find a way to solve the problem and has been in talks with the developers.

“What we’ve said is we support the urbanisation of Drury, but there are four private plan changes here at the moment and the biggest challenge is how do we fund the infrastructure,” Tyler said.

“We’ve said we are going to oppose them if, come the hearings, we don’t have an agreed infrastructure funding solution in place.”

A billion dollars of infrastructure is not an insignificant thing. Perhaps the rule needs to be that if you want to develop greenfield land out of sequence with the current plans that you have to pay for that core infrastructure.

Details of each of the changes are below

  • Proposed Private Plan Change 48 Drury Centre Precinct – seeks to rezone 95 hectares of land from Future Urban zone to approximately 35 hectares of Business: Metropolitan Centre zone, approximately 51.5 hectares a of Business: Mixed Use zone surrounding the Metropolitan Centre, and approximately 8.5 hectares Open Space: Informal Recreation zoned land.
The Drury town centre plan
  • Proposed Private Plan Change 49 Drury East Precinct – seeks to rezone 184 hectares of land from Future Urban zone to 2 hectares of Business: Mixed Use zone, 22 hectares of Residential: Terrace Housing and Apartment Buildings zoning; 65 hectares of Residential: Mixed Housing Urban zoning, and 95 hectares of Residential: Mixed Housing Suburban zoned land
  • Proposed Private Plan Change 50 Waihoehoe Precinct – seeks to rezone 48.9 hectares of land from Future Urban to Residential: Terrace Housing and Apartment Buildings zoned land
  • Proposed Private Plan Change 51 Drury 2 Precinct – seeks to rezone 33.65 hectares of land from Future Urban zone to 15.29 hectares of Business: Town Centre zone, 13.75 hectares of Residential: Terrace Housing and Apartment Buildings zone, and 4.61 hectares of Residential: Residential: Mixed Housing Urban zoned land
  • Proposed Private Plan Change 52 – 520 Great South Road, Papakura – seeks to rezone land from Future Urban zone to Mixed Housing Urban zone

You can see them all on this map. Plan Changes 48-50 are the big ones next to Drury. Change 51 is to the west of the motorway and change 52 is the one further up Gt South Rd. I’ve also added in the approximate route of Mill Rd in red as well as the station locations for the two new train stations to be built in the area as part of the NZ Upgrade programme. The colours are approximately the unitary plan colours

If these go ahead we’re only likely to see more of this happening up as developers rush to fill in that gap space between Drury and Papakura, requiring even more investment from the council.

The full Mill Rd corridor was included in the NZ Upgrade Program, bringing it well forward in the the programme, which was in part the result of significant lobbying by the mayor and deputy mayor, as well as I’m sure developers. I understand this too is causing headaches for the council/AT in other areas as it will mean they also need to bring forward money to upgrade local roads that connect to it.

If plan changes 48-50 go ahead, this gives an indication as to the transport network that they’re proposing. At least by working together they’re avoiding issues like we’ve see before where developments occur back to back but with no connections between them which only further encourages people to drive.

Finally I also wonder why we’re still letting developers design town centres, let alone main streets as car centric places with more space given to carparking than footpaths.

An artist’s impression of the new town centre Kiwi Property is planning to build
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  1. One day the entire isthmus will need to be zoned for multi stories, does this mean they will do a plan change for anyone who wants to build one

  2. Why isn’t the ‘town heart’ at the station?
    Why is there a ‘transport hub’ that clearly isn’t, ie is also not at the station?
    What on earth is that illustration of; building, from scratch, a failed car-focussed Main Street!?
    How does that street network enable efficient east-west bus-to-station services for the areas so far from it?
    Why are we subsidising sprawl when there are no programmes to develop proper TODs around existing stations much closer to everything with already physical and existing social infra?

    1. Because a greenfield development adjacent to a transport line is easier to swing than a brownfield development in a more central area and all the objections and time-wasting that comes with it.

      I’m not sure we can afford the hand-wringing anymore, to be honest. House prices are exploding and getting more supply on to the market is more important than ever.

      1. RBNZ is pumping up the housing market with historically low interest rates and the nonsensical removal of LVRs. The lower cost of finance is getting capitalised into current prices. Building subdivisions now in which additional houses may become available in several years time won’t fix this.

        Also it’s notable that house prices aren’t rising universally. Looking at the Auckland isthmus: Detached houses with sections big enough to support infill housing are going for millions. Infill houses themselves aren’t going up in price much and are taking ages to sell. Apartment prices are stagnant and staying on the market for months.

    2. Because right from the start of planning the Auckland Development Strategy the biggest opportunity we faced was ignored. Instead, it was written with utter bias; subsidising greenfields development with billions and billions of public dollars.

      This was money that was required to actually make our existing city fit for purpose, with transport network actually safe enough for our people and not requiring massive commute times. And with water, wastewater and green infrastructure that could regenerate the polluted environment.

      As Buttwizard says, there’s no more time for hand-wringing. But our actions must be to say no to spending these billions of dollars. It’s $6 billion of sprawl infrastructure for Drury East alone!

      Cut the contracts. Stop Mill Rd. Put that money into the things we need to enable brownfields development, and do it fast.

      Just because the money men have everything set up the way they want doesn’t mean we should continue to kill this city’s potential and lock us into a horrible, high-emissions future

    3. “Why is there a ‘transport hub’ that clearly isn’t, ie is also not at the station””

      I think I can answer that. Because in the “Future Urban Land Supply Strategy”, part of the Auckland Development Strategy, somebody actually thought that’s what you should do. See: https://www.greaterauckland.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Example-from-FULSS.png

      Note those stars, the transport hubs, which aren’t where the transport routes intersect?

      Amazingly, no-one corrected it before the plan was published. Maybe no-one high enough up understood transport?

      But what really amazes me is that it seems to have been used as a thing. I can’t remember where Drury West ended up but there was a time there when the town centre wasn’t even being located where the transport routes intersect, let alone the transport hub. This is bonkers stuff.

  3. Love the ‘Homemaker’ precinct aka few Bunnings and Mitre 10 box stores. Roll on Westgate with a train station. Cheers Phil T once again!

  4. Basically a rinse and repeat of Ormiston and Addison.
    Denser residential development, not focused on an easy walk catchment to rapid transit.

    1. The great irony with Addison was the developer was willing to pay for a new rail station near Walters Road, but AT said no and would only allow it if the developer paid for the grade separation of Walters Road as well, which the developer refused to pay for due to the exorbitant cost.

      So Addison got built, most of which is not within easy walking distance of a rail station, and all the local roads are clogged with cars and the arterials are all jammed during peak periods because everyone still has to rely on cars when they move into these new subdivisions.

      Areas like Botany, Dannemora, Flat Bush are crying out for rapid transit (an extension of the Manukau line onwards to Botany along the middle of Te Irirangi Drive to Botany and Ti Rakau Drive through to Pakuranga and alongside the South Eastern Highway to the ECMT at Sylvia Park would be a good solution which people would use). But again, these new subdivisions and town centres continue to get built around car dependency such as they have since the 1950s and no rail or rapid transit provided.

  5. Its worth pointing out that Auckland Council have also opposed a plan change to enable further intensification around Newmarket.

    I also expect they will oppose some of the major brownfield intensification proposals by Kainga Ora on infrastructure grounds.

  6. The same thing has happened in Melbourne…with predictable results. Pt. Cook has been developed with few/no bus lanes, and miles away from the train station. Turns into a predictable carmageddon at peak times as cars clog the roads, and it’s deserted and disconnected outside peak times.

  7. The sooner we get on with labours plan to build at least 6 story apartments close to stations the better. The benefit/cost ratio for families and for councils is high. Families living in distant suburbs spend long hours commuting paying dearly.
    Those new apartments are beautiful, with views, close amenities including schools, work, shops, libraries, entertainment and restaurants.

  8. If you want the trains to get even slower than they already are, just keep adding more stations with no new tracks. If you really want a rail alternative to the southern motorway, it must be 4 lines all the way from Pukekohe to Westfield at least. Not just some vague promise about future proofing.

    1. Adding stations at Drury won’t make the slightest difference to train speeds for the majority of commuters, it will only impact those in Pukekohe. Any train from Pukekohe is likely to stop in Drury and Paerata anyway so there is little need for four tracks from Pukekohe anytime soon.

      1. I know this is not the NZ way, but you build the capacity before it’s absolutely needed so you don’t have to try and refit existing infrastructure at great disruption and cost. There’s also a major problem starting at Pukekohe with increasing delays to freight trains which reduces rail’s competiveness with road freight. A good example of why NZ has low productivity.

        1. Agree with building capacity before it is needed but not 20 – 30 years before it’s needed, that’s called the Tauranga Eastern Motorway.

          If bridges, stations and town centres are built now to accommodate the extra tracks then there is no reason it needs to be disruptive in the future.

          If freight is your justification (which is very different to your initial justification) then the money would probably be better spent on the Whanagamarino deviation, that would seriously speed up both freight and passenger services between Auckland and Hamilton.

  9. Yes the development may be “out of sequence” but it is important to ensure there is enough development in sequence to at least stabilize house prices. At the moment this is not happening. All the sequencing plans e.t.c. should automatically be revised if house prices climb higher than expected. Making the developers pay is also a bad idea as it will only make the new houses more pricier than otherwise and in doing so push up prices across most of the rest of the market. The council should be rolling in money now as if your house price goes up 10% your rates bill should too and if not this needs to be fixed which will provide lots of more money for new infrastructure.

    We need to take a real look at how we managed to deal with huge population growth in the 1960s and early 1970s while maintaining low house prices (often amid low interest rates) and learn from how things were done then. Hint huge amounts of house building (yes it involved a lot of sprawl but is a very sprawly Auckland where house prices are only 3x the average income worse than the one now?)

    1. Lol you believe that supply is the issue with housing. How Naive. Developers will never build enough housing because it would reduce their profits.

    2. “The council should be rolling in money now as if your house price goes up 10% your rates bill should too ” – that’s not how it works. The rates take is set, changes in your house prices compared to everyone else’s just pegs your share of the total amount.

      “We need to take a real look at how we managed to deal with huge population growth in the 1960s and early 1970s while maintaining low house prices” … and accept that what was possible then is not possible now, because there’s a physical limit in practical terms. We’ve passed that limit. Any extra expansion now makes every system less efficient, more polluting and less liveable.

      Our footprint is too big, and it’s creating too many problems.

      The first step in the Auckland Development Strategy should have been to look at the 720,000 extra people that we might need to accommodate by 2050, and realise the opportunity this presents.

      With that many extra people on the same footprint, we could finally kiss goodbye to all the excuses people lay on about “we don’t have the density for that.”

      It would also finally kiss goodbye to all the excuses we hear for why we can’t afford to fix our infrastructure which has contributed in such a big way to our safety and biodiversity crises.

      These billions and billions of public money that we’re spending on sprawl infrastructure should be going into our existing urban area.

      As for “it is important to ensure there is enough development in sequence to at least stabilize house prices” it’s an economist’s myth that this needs to be in the form of new land.

      Vast tracks of roading and parking lots and long, long pipes cost us in the long run. A compact city ends up far cheaper per household.

    3. The total amount of rates income has nothing to do with increasing house prices. House price rises just determine how rate increases are shared around. And unlike Australia, there’s no stamp duty or it’s set at zero so that’s another revenue stream cut off in NZ. Councils don’t get a share of GST either. The Council is not rolling in money at all hence the staffing and other cuts including the Western Springs cycle way revamp. The huge population increase in the 1960s/70s was mostly due to natural increase, babies already have a home. Immigrants get off the plane and straight away rent/buy. However covid has stopped that influx at least for a while.

    4. There’s a number of levers available to impact house prices, encouraging sprawl and all of it’s long term negative consequences should be well down the list.

      At best it might lower the house prices in Papakura and Pukekohe but it won’t make any dent it prices closer to the city as living more centrally will always be more desirable.

      1. ” but it won’t make any dent it prices closer to the city” – not sure that is true; even if it is always more desirable to live centrally that should be relative not absolute.

      2. The trouble with relying on other levers to control house prices is that they aren’t being pulled or won’t work fast enough.

        Not enough is being done to streamline the processes to facilitate brownfields development. I’ve had a bit of a look at the proposed legislation to replace the RMA https://www.mfe.govt.nz/rmreview. The spatial planning requirements in the proposed Strategic Planning Act largely seem sensible, but I don’t have a lot of confidence that the changes in the proposed Natural and Built and Environments Act are going to facilitate a lot more urban development of any kind. It still seems to enable Nimbys and other objectors just as much.

        And even if the changes did make a difference, it could take years before they worked their way down through all the plans and policy statements to start making a difference on the ground.

        I’d like to see more brownfields development as a preference, but I do think edge development can have an influence on prices across the city. It looks like it has worked in Christchurch: https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/opinion-analysis/300115948/nz-can-build-enough-affordable-homes–christchurch-proves-it

        1. But in Christchurch it has had a devastating effect on modeshare; exactly what we don’t want to see.

          It’s a pity if we can’t get the RMA replacement right yet!

  10. Make the developers pay to put LRT down the Mill Road proposal… with the expectation it’ll run through Ormiston and then on to Botany at the other end (instead of going to Manukau as the Mill Road road route is). The Council/government then bears the cost of the intended infrastructure 60/40. Developers also have to lump any park and ride.

    (By the time you’ve got to the indicative Mill Road project line you’re quite a hike from where the train station is indicated to be. As far as I can tell it’s about 2.95km as the crow flies. And based on the maps, it would actually be a very zig zaggy route.

    BRT would be cheaper, of course, but I see it as a “negotiate down” kind of proposition. You demand that they pay for LRT on the project and then settle for a future proofed BRT conversion covering charge.)

    And the developers can plead their case for other infrastructure to Phil “Urban Sprawl” Twyford.

    1. “intended infrastructure”

      should be: “intended transport infrastructure”

      “have to lump any park and ride” is also missing a “costs” at the end.

    2. The problem with getting developers to pay for anything is that it very quickly becomes unaffordable to do any development. And before you know it we have a housing crisis.
      I kind of think infrastructure (whether old or new) is what we pay rates and taxes for. If they don’t cover it they should be increased. Making new builds pay for infrastructure while existing builds got it for free creates a nasty distortion.

      1. As long as the ratepayers who are paying for it are able to veto the development if the costs are excessive.

        There needs to be some consequence for developing sprawl suburbs, a better idea might be a targeted rate over say 30 years for residents to cover the costs.

        1. ” a better idea might be a targeted rate over say 30 years for residents to cover the costs” –
          Perhaps – but also with a general rates and watercare decrease to reflect that they have paid for brand new infrastructure which shouldn’t need the level of maintenance or renewals that the old stuff does.
          And what happens when others tap into it? If a new subdivision pops up after this after the Drury development and they make use of the pipes and transport paid for by the Drury development households, does the new subdivision then pay a rebate to the Drury development households? It could get quite messy.

  11. Thanks Matt – excellent. I meant to submit – but the reading-commitment required to understand it – to make a submission was beyond my attention span. the Artists Impression of the kids and cyclists in the door-strike zones of the Wilsons carpark style mainstreet winds me up. Any developers reading this (guessing not from that picture) please do better. How many Ford Rangers can we park in the heart of the city?

  12. Just on the issue of the “Town Heart”, which has been mentioned a couple of times (once in this thread above and by Matt earlier in the year), I note the mention of parklands surrounding Flanagan’s homestead on https://www.kiwiproperty.com/corporate/drury/ (The existing homestead is being kept as part of the development). Presumably this is the “Town Heart”, in which case the placement of it at least makes some kind of sense in that they have planned for the public space to be anchored by the existing homestead.

    Furthermore, it appears that there will be another public space down by the station (station plaza), with the main street connecting the two (and by the looks of things from the town centre plan, quite possibly a third public space in between station plaza and the town heart). So far so good.

    Unfortunately it then all falls apart with the artists impression of the main street. Really this should be pedestrianised or something so people are able to move up and down the main street unimpeded by cars as they would in a mall like Sylvia Park. And as Kiwi Property are mall owners (including of course, Sylvia Park) it is quite odd and frustrating that they don’t appear to get this.

  13. I love that in the mock up people are already spilling off the crowded pavements onto roads – that’s a pretty good representation of how lots of Auckland looks! Narrow pavements squeezed full of pedestrians and roads with lots of parking, despite there always being huge car parks nearby.

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