This is a letter to Auckland Council elected members, sent by the Coalition for More Homes on Tuesday the 6th of December 2023. We’re sharing it because it’s on point: infrastructure needs to keep up with new housing, and fast.

Intensification is occurring across most of the Auckland urban area, delivering greater housing choice, improved affordability and lower carbon living.

We need to keep going with investment in infrastructure to support new housing in existing communities, and keep up with population growth.

The Coalition for More Homes is concerned with reports that important infrastructure projects in Auckland are being put on hold. Investment in civil and transport infrastructure is crucial for housing intensification, supporting sustainable growth in our neighbourhoods.

One example of this is in Point Chevalier. There is a rumoured delay to infrastructure investment, the Point Chevalier to Westmere Improvements. Point Chevalier is already seeing dozens of developments from small townhouse developments to larger apartment developments. This growing neighbourhood needs fit for purpose infrastructure to support growth.

Medium-rise going up on Pt Chevalier Road in 2021. To the left is Point & Miller, a private development of 21 new apartments on the former site of three brick flats. To the right, 31 new apartments by Kāinga Ora/ Housing NZ are rising where three state houses used to be.

While often referred to as a cycleway project, it will deliver much more than this including a new southbound bus lane on Point Chevalier Road towards Great North Road. This section already has 10 buses an hour in each direction. The bus lane will support more reliable journey times and easier connection to Great North Road bus corridor. The streetscape improvements will include new street trees improving urban amenity and mitigating the urban heat island effect.

The Point & Miller apartments emerging from scaffolding, 2021. Point Chevalier Road is set to get protected bike lanes, safe level crossings at side streets, and a southbound bus lane for peak travel.
As of late 2022, both apartment buildings at this corner are completed and the residents have moved in. The long-planned street improvements have yet to break ground.

Meola Road, which was famously built on a landfill in the 1930s, is at the end of its lifespan and needs to be rebuilt. The addition of the cycle lane during this construction is a sensible step to support transport choice for local journeys and commutes by bike. Point Chevalier already has one of the highest bike to school mode shares in the region. Adding safe cycle routes will support more children to travel safely to school and reduce traffic in the peak hours.

Meanwhile on Meola Road, four large townhomes have replaced one single-story house. Still waiting for the street improvements, which will add protected bike lanes and safer crossings (including a key location where a school crossing guard was recently injured on duty). The overhead wires will be undergrounded and water infrastructure upgraded via an efficient “dig once” approach, and replacement planting will add native trees and landscaping to the berms.
The cost breakdown of the Point Chevalier to Westmere project, received as part of an October 2022 LGOIMA request by a member of the public. It shows the full range of balanced benefits.

This project is just one example of the dozens of projects either planned or awaiting construction to start which our communities need as soon as possible to support population growth.

Other projects, to name a few include:

  • Eastern Busway. This investment will support growth in East Auckland, through a new Rapid Transit connection – it is one of the only sub-areas of Auckland without a Rapid Transit service.
  • Henderson Cycle network. The Henderson-Massey Local Board area has the highest number of building consents of all local boards.
  • Bus service improvements signalled in the Regional Public Transport Plan and Climate Action Targeted Rate.
  • Grade separation of rail crossings in Takaanini to enable trains to run at higher frequencies on the Southern Line post completion of the City Rail Link

We ask Auckland Council to continue to support these planned projects and the broader infrastructure pipeline which is crucial to supporting the thousands of new homes planned and under construction across Tāmaki Makaurau.

Ngā mihi nui,

The Coalition for More Homes

Header image shows new housing going up adjacent to Avondale Town Centre, while street improvements to catch up with local needs are well down the pipeline.

Corner of Point Chevalier Road and Miller Street in 2019, Google Streetview.
Corner of Point Chevalier Road and Miller Street in 2022, Google Streetview.
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  1. Implementing transport infrastructure projects in NZ is a complete mess. Waka Kotahi is biased, incompetent and deceitful. Of all the government agencies in NZ they are the one I am most dissappointed in. Auckland has been badly treated since the 1950s with the ‘moar roads’ agenda and because the useless professional management class in Wellington the same mistake is going to be repeated in Christchurch/Canterbury. The facts are undeniable – Waka Kotahi even lies to its Ministers and is unrepentant about this.

    1. Thanks for the link. I knew it was close between the two, but it in fact looks like Greater ChCh will breeze past Greater Wellington in the next few decades. I think the comment that Wellington central “looking more like a city” compared to downtown ChCh influences certain quarters, has some merit.

      Greater ChCh not having rail is an absolute travesty. Imagine if it was linked up the way Wellington is.

  2. If you think that infrastructure is bad then come look out our way in Roskill South. Most of our infrastructure hasn’t been touched since the 1950’s, the footpaths are closer to gravel than concrete, our avenues have no trees, when street signs fall over no one puts them back, the playgrounds are old, there is no investment in walking or cycling, the power lines crisscross the roads at every point possible, our residential roads don’t have speed humps or reduced speed limits, our roads near schools still have 50km/hr speed limits – and we are getting loads of new houses too. Those pictures look absolutely amazing compared to the condition of our local area.
    Its the councils own fault, had they allowed really high density within 5km of the city centre then they could spend all the money in one place, but by allowing some density everywhere they really need to upgrade everywhere. From what I am seeing they are still spending the bulk of the money on the rich areas that are opposed to density, they shouldn’t be getting a cent!

    1. Agree, the footpaths in our area are like something from a third-tier post-Soviet city. Potholes all over, uneven patches, gravel sections, bus shelters built on the footpath, posts sticking up randomly*. I don’t understand how it’s not a H&S problem since anyone with limited mobility is going to struggle to make their way over this obstacle course.

      * There’s a stub of a wooden post about 5 cm high sticking out of the middle of the footpath. I tripped on it a few times before learning my lesson – an elderly person could break a hip.

  3. Intensification is the best way to improve our low productivity.
    We have spent far too much on roads and infrastructure in 100s of new sprawling suburbs at great cost to families, councils, congestion, emissions, health.
    Surely it is much cheaper and better for many reasons to build one apartment building with 50 homes on one block of land than build 50 stand alone homes on 50 blocks of land on good farmland.
    Queenstown is a prime example of a place that won’t build apartments and is complaining about housing costs.
    They expect visa workers to commute from out of town.

  4. Traditionally the Auckland Councils did spend money on infrastructure to support growth. Franklin and Papakura built arterials and half the cost of collectors. But that changed with the supercity. The money got spent on CRL and other stuff. Instead AT tries to screw the money they need out of developers, many of whom give up. The even have the humorously named Supporting Growth team whose job is to oppose growth by dreaming up as many expensive projects as they can projects and trying to get developers to pay for them all.

    1. “screw the money they need out of developers” and then spend it in other places that are opposed to density. There are plenty of new houses going up in our street, but no evidence of their developer contributions being spent locally.

      1. Developer contributions are only a part of it. Much worse is the conditions AT tries to have put on consents and provisions they seek in plan changes. Many have little to do with the effects of that development. AT has a team dedicated to trying to game the system to their advantage. The supercity was a turning point because prior to that Council staff were accountable.

    2. Hi Miffy, there is quite a lot to unpack there in your comment, and I appreciate that it is a short comment, but can you clarify your statement about developer contributions (DC)? Personally I have no objection to DC’s especially to fund infrastructure (underground services etc). I’m also aware of Auckland Council as the TA requiring developer contributions but less so with AT. Can you unpack that? And why that is problematic?

      1. I don’t have a problem with developer contributions. I do have a problem with AT trying to stop development around a new station and trying to use the planning process to shake people down. AT witnesses set out 51 gold-plated projects they wanted funded for the Drury Plan Changes. Nobody else agreed with them.

    3. “Instead AT tries to screw the money they need out of developers, many of whom give up.”

      Mmmmh, maybe, you know, just maybe Greenfield development does have a lot of transport costs that Councils simply cannot fund without making sure it is priced in.

      If this causes some projects to be abandoned, that may just be the economics of it. Not every place out in the sticks is good for 200 extra houses with everyone also expecting Council water, power and sewerage. I’m fine with that going onto the house price, rather than everyone’s rates. Nobody is forcing farmers to develop their land.

      1. My experience is the opposite. Newer areas get built and are required to do everything properly, new roads, new pipes, treatment for stormwater, underground wires etc all payed for by the new home owners. Then the residents move in and are levied rates that get spent in the older areas fixing up deficient infrastructure there.

  5. The CATR bus network not having been whispered about since it was passed is so wrong. Part of the criteria for CATR projects was that they would start quickly. We are 6 months down the line of paying extra ringfenced rates specifically for this, but we have heard nothing? This is even more jarring in context of the entire rail system upcoming years of issues.

  6. This ties in with yesterday’s post about planning,sometimes you have to just react with what is actually happening on the ground. The planning rules allow this intensification,developers provide it,then the controlling authorities seems unprepared for the outcomes it produces.
    It is not rocket science,more people in a smaller area, need greater freedoms to move around,which cars will never provide.

  7. Get ready for three years of nothing happening. All the staff who have been dragging their heels on active modes focussed projects now have license to just cancel them. Anyone who voted for Wayne Brown thinking he was going to do anything other than obstruct is in for a nasty surprise.

    1. Isn’t obstructing (change) exactly what Wayne Brown campaigned on? In transport in particular? I mean I can’t remember the exact wording, but he explicitly promised he’d stand for “more of the same old” (car based transport).

      So I think a lot of them actually were voting for him exactly to obstruct what they see as “woke” stuff like bikeways or bus lanes or new apartment blocks.

      1. Seems like so many oppose the ‘woke’ stuff up until they actually try them.
        Apartments are great, now that I’ve visited / lived in one
        Bike lanes are great, now that I’ve ridden on one
        Ebikes are great, now that I’ve tried one.

        For a while there the main news outlets seemed to have a regular item on standby, which was basically old grump tries green eggs and ham, turns out they quite like it.

        1. It’s Texan e-bike in v alencia for half a day and became aco poets convert they had a great and extensive clycle lane network andII had no problem going any where. The y le lanes in Valencia were a mix of paintedrkadlanesanddiublewide footpaths. Everyone gave way to everyone,and iweorked well

      2. There were several comments on this blog that people voted for him because he would remove the layer of clay. Those are some of tge people in for a nasty surprise.

        He also campaigned on ‘fewer road cones’, some people took that to mean doing projects faster. They’ll be disappointed.

        He campaigned on a cars first focus, but he has no projects or ideas to actually drive that, so people who voted for him to build roads will be in for a nasty surprise.

  8. It is a structure problem.
    Incentives are not aligned between council, government, AT, and developers.
    Ideally council should get GST back for new dwelling added so they can fund bigger library, community centres for the new population.

    Some funding arrangements needs to be enabled from government and they can issue bonds.

    Developers can pay land premium that has infrastructure and transport built. The premium is used to payback the borrowing.

    Panuku should be the facilitator. Ideally the board should have developers so they can drive some motivation to make things happen (compare to now just a bunch of bureaucrats that are slow and inefficient)

  9. Northwest Auckland has one of the highest rates of intensification along with South Auckland. Rapid Transit is at least 10-15 years away. Not a lot of investment in these areas particularly the Northwest is no where near any rail lines and limited ferry services. You have bus, bike or drive. These big projects only seem to be in the Waitemata when will some other wards get some investment

    1. Big ($100m+) projects currently underway in Auckland:
      Eastern Busway
      Pukekohe to Papakura electrification
      Bombay to Drury widening
      Northern Corridor improvements
      Puhoi to Warkworth

      Only one of those is in Waitemata and West Auckland gets the biggest benefits from it!

      Somehow locals in every area are convinced that they are missing out. Claiming this for the NW is particularly funny when the entire NW motorway has been widened over the last 15 years.

      Perhaps the issue is actually that transport budget in the NW is being wasted on roads.

      1. Sailor;

        The SH16 changes happened years ago. There’s thousands of new houses in the NW area now. The promised light rail eventually became a busway which is now actually just bus lanes and some bus stops on off-ramps. The Lincoln Road changes were also nuked post-Covid.

        There really is SFA development of the infrastructure to support the houses being built out this way, which continued relentlessly over the Covid period. The Shore has had a separate busway for over ten years, now being extended, yet is taking on a fraction of the development the North West is being asked to mop up so central suburbs don’t have to.

  10. The cost breakdown for the Pt Chev to Westmere improvements is misleading. Most of the other costs the would not occur if the cycleway wasn’t going in. While I support having a cycleway, the increasingly gold-plated design that has led to the ballooned budget needs revisting. At least the plan suits SUVs with 11 raised crossings on the route, and bus passengers get a free ammusment park ride 🙂

    1. To the contrary. Rebuilding the road is expensive; if you wish to deny that it needs doing you’ll have to provide evidence. The only scenario I can see that it isn’t required is one in which general traffic is kept off it.

      The deficit in safety that has been created by decades of unmitigated traffic growth could in fact be provided along Meola Rd very cheaply – with a bus gate and very simple built environment changes that produce a change in traffic circulation. This approach is not radical; it has been employed to lessen the effects of traffic at many times and places over the last 70 years.

      All expenses above this minimal approach are to serve motor vehicles, not bikes.

      But even still the project as designed is not expensive. There’s no goldplating going on here. Auckland’s streetscapes are deficient and need fixing.

      If you’re wanting to keep transport costs down, look at the hugely expensive sprawl highways, or look at how Supporting Growth is currently supersizing A2B, setting Auckland up for budget blowouts.

  11. The lack of infrastructure investment now is pointless – it was always the predictable outcome of an utterly misguided policy.

    Intensification was intended to address a housing shortfall perceived to be driving house price inflation; the oft-quoted “supply problem”.

    But the supply problem wasn’t not enough housing, it was too much credit and until the wheels fell of the global and NZ money machine, that continued unabated (for a while). Consenting lots of rabbit hutch townhouse and apartment developments just added lots of very expensive, over-priced townhouses to the market, pushing UP prices of less cramped, more generously proportioned houses that people with the money to afford (or children – or desire for children – that need the space) were always going to prefer.

    That this policy was introduced without ANY preparation in the form of securing consents and necessary land (compulsorily if necessary) required to uplift the infrastructure (not just transport, but schooling, healthcare etc) to support the higher density for which the existing infrastructure was NEVER intended is nothing short of criminal.

    Follow the money and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that councillors, officials and other interested parties that lobbied for, devised and railroaded the policy change have benefited financially from the outcomes.

    Meanwhile it is a fairly safe prediction that the areas suffering (word chosen carefully) the most from intensification, with townhouses and blocks thrown up in haste to profit from inflated house prices will prove substandard in years to come and those living in them find themselves underserved by amenities and services; they will degenerate into slums. Better looking outwardly than the concrete blocks of the past perhaps, but slums never-the-less.

    Meanwhile, thousands of acres of Rodney land sits unproductive and empty bar a few hobby cows and sheep on which a new ,well planned town/city with high speed, high capacity transport links to Auckland and other Northern settlements could have been developed, avoiding the mistakes caused by the lack of planning in Auckland itself.

    Of course, that would have taken real money and required real investment in infrastructure. But would have provided real, additional capacity in all aspects; housing, jobs, services.

    The model is an established one; the dormitory “New Towns” in the UK. “dormitory” because as well as establishing a community of it’s own, they also provided housing for people that worked elsewhere, primarily in London.

    But that requires bold and brave thinking and commitment from people with nothing to gain other than the satisfaction of doing A Good Job for the people of Auckland/NZ.

    Hence is unlikely to happen as long as NZ’ers continue to labour [sic] under the illusion that they enjoy progressive, corruption free, competent governance and keep voting in the self-interested nitwits they do.

    1. “more generously proportioned houses that people with the money to afford (or children – or desire for children – that need the space) were always going to prefer.”

      Speak for yourself.

    2. As someone who is living in an expanding “Dormitory/Garden town” I call porkies on that.

      They are no different to what I witnessed today in West Auckland and Dury. Cheap houses with no land, no infrastructure and no public transport.

      I think your mixing up Metro land places with modern dormitory towns.

    1. +1

      Cities that are densifying need to have streets that can work a lot harder than they did previously.

      This is fine, but there needs to be a way to make this happen easily. in Auckland we descend instantly into squabbles about whose job it is to pay for things.

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