Part of me can understand why there seems to be such significant opposition to intensification in the Unitary Plan. Many people like the place they live the way it is and they’re fearful of change. Furthermore, they’ve seen what developers have built in relatively recent times and don’t trust planners to stop bad developments from happening in the future. They also, perhaps correctly, feel that the process of the Unitary Plan is being rushed for political reasons and there’s a good chance of mistakes being made in that rush.
That said, many of those very same people probably don’t want to see Auckland sprawl forever either. Yet burying our head in the dead on this issue, or coming up with draconian measures to stop Auckland from growing, aren’t really viable options so there really is a key tradeoff to make here:
The more we stop intensification, the more Auckland will need to sprawl.
There are many reasons why sprawl is a bad idea - especially sprawl that isn’t planned properly and based around enhanced public transport networks. Let’s just cover a few key points:
- It’s typically much more expensive to service with new roads, pipes, schools, hospitals, parks etc.
- It destroys the countryside, with potentially massive environmental impacts and a reduction in productive rural land
- It leads to car dependent urban development, which itself creates many environmental and economic problems (people in distant suburbs tend to have to spend far more of their income on transport than inner areas)
- It undermines the economic benefits of agglomeration and also creates more severe congestion than more compact urban forms
At the moment the Unitary Plan is working off somewhere between a 70/30 and 60/40 intensification/sprawl split. Given that Auckland’s development in the past 15 years has been 70% intensification this is a slight shift towards sprawl compared to what’s been happening on the ground.
I thought it would be a good idea to visualise the impacts on how much land is needed under a few different scenarios. To do this the maps below are based on any sprawl being at the same density as recent suburban developments.
If Auckland’s growth over the next 30 years was to achieve the 70/30 split, then the red on the map below shows the extent to which the city may expand into areas that are currently rural:At this scale it doesn’t look too shockingly large, but these areas represent around 120,000 dwellings – which (to give a bit of context) is only 22,000 fewer dwellings than were in the whole of Christchurch in 2006.
At a 60/40 split the red areas unsurprisingly grow quite a bit bigger. Remember that the Council is planning for this level of urban sprawl (of course we don’t know exactly where it will go yet) “just in case” it proves difficult to achieve 70% intensification.
Now we’re looking at 160,000 dwellings outside the existing urban limits. For a bit of context the entire Waikato region had 147,000 dwellings in 2006.
At some of the meetings on the Unitary Plan it seems like there’s a bit of push-back to change the intensification/sprawl split. I assume that doesn’t mean a higher proportion of dwellings being on the intensification side of the ledger. So let’s look at a 50/50 split and how big an area that might take up:
By this stage we’re looking at every single greenfield option currently being considered and a significant amount more. If it looks like the red “explodes” as the proportions are wound back there are two reasons for this:
- Growth to rural towns like Waiuku, Helensville is likely to occur as some of the earlier development outside the current urban area so as the numbers get bigger a greater proportion of growth needs to go in the main sprawl areas.
- As the numbers get larger it’s likely that development would have to take place on more difficult land, meaning lower density of development and therefore more land for a certain number of houses.
At “50/50″ we’re looking at 200,000 houses outside the current urban limits, which compares with 178,000 dwellings in the whole of the Wellington region in 2006.
Pushing things a bit further, the map below shows what things might look like in a “40/60 scenario” with only 40% of growth through intensification and 60% through sprawl:
With 240,000 dwellings of sprawl in the 40/60 scenario, we’re looking at the number of dwellings in the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions in 2006 combined. (Think of how many schools, hospitals, roads etc. in those two regions!)
As perhaps an extreme example, (though maybe not to Dick Quax or Nick Smith?) the final map below shows a “20/80″ scenario – with 80% of Auckland’s growth outside the existing urban area:
In this scenario the red areas total up to around 34,000 hectares – which is the size of the red box. The 320,000 dwellings outside the existing urban area in this scenario is not that far short putting Wellington (178,000) and Canterbury (212,00) regions together in term of the number of dwellings they had in 2006.
Of course many of the maps above are fairly fanciful and I doubt there would be a market for that much sprawl development even if allowed, but it gives some indication of what people should keep in mind while opposing intensification.
I’m not sure whether it is driven out of selfishness or just a sheer lack of understanding but the opposition and reporting of the unitary plan now seems to be bordering on lunacy. Almost the entire concern about the unitary plan so far seems to have been in relation to height limits. First the focus was around the heights of apartments but opponents of the plan have now moved on to the height limits in the mixed housing zone. For these opponents even three stories seems to be scary so thanks to Google, I went for a look around some of their neighbourhood and look at what I found:
Looking around a few other suburbs we also have.
In all it took me only about 5-10 minutes to find these 3 storey houses and interestingly none of which appeared as if they were out of place in their local environment. Yet somehow try to build something the same height but as a group of terraced houses, or apartments and the development seems to become evil (some are taken from Trademe listings).
The same height limits that allow for the large houses in the first sets of photos are the ones that affect many of the terraced houses and apartments in the second set of photos.
But I wonder if these people actually realise what the existing height limits are? I suspect they don’t so I went and had a look. Here are the limits in residential areas for the former North Shore City Council:
184.108.40.206 Maximum Height
a) Residential 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 zones: 8 metres.
b) Residential 6 zone:
i) Intensive Housing on sites exceeding 1500m²: 9 metres.
ii) All other activities: 8 metres.
c) Special Height Restrictions:
i) RNZAF Airbases – refer to Rule 14.10.1.
ii) Mount Victoria and North Head – refer to Rule 8.4.3 and Rule 8.4.4.
iii) Dairy Flat Airfield – refer to District Plan Map 3.
iv) 94, 96 and 98 Mokoia Road (Lots 6, 7 and 8 DP 12148) – 9 metres.
By means of a Limited Discretionary activity application:
a) Residential 1, 2b, 2c, 3, 4, 5 and 7 zones: Up to 9 metres.
b) Residential 6 zone:
i) Intensive Housing: Up to 10 metres.
ii) All other activities: Up to 9 metres.
c) Residential 2A zone: Up to 11 metres.
Most properties on the shore sit under residential zone 4a so have a height limit of 8 metres with council officers having discretion to increase that to 9 metres. Seeing as in the unitary plan the mixed housing zone is the most common, what does it say about height?
Part 4 Rules»4.3 Zone rules»4.3.1 Residential zones»4. Development controls»4.3 Mixed Housing zone»4.3.1 Building height
Purpose: manage the scale of buildings to generally maintain the low-rise suburban residential character of the zone (two to three storeys).
1. Buildings must not exceed 8m in height.
So it is 8m as well or in other words for the majority of people on the shore, there is actually no change to height limits at all. Not that the scaremongers like Wood, Quax, Brewer and a host of local board members would tell you that. Unfortunately they have been assisted by the hopeless attempts at comms by the council. We said very early on that effort should have been put into showing what was allowed under current rules vs. what is proposed. For most people this would have shown that there was actually no change at all and therefore nothing to worry about which is a point that Brian Rudman also highlighted a few days ago.
Some you may recall that a month or so ago my colleague Jarrett Walker came to Auckland to talk about public transport. In this presentation, Jarrett discussed some of his work on Auckland’s new network. The general thrust of his talk was that improvements to Auckland’s bus network will play a crucial role in Auckland’s future public transport network. Highlight of the talk for me personally was Jarrett’s suggestion that we need to start thinking of buses as ”pedestrian fountains“. That’s a point to keep in mind the next time you look at pictures of Auckland’s city centre filled with people enjoying themselves; many of those people will have arrived by bus.
Jarrett also emphasised the often overlooked fact that even post-CRL, significant numbers of people will still be arriving in Auckland’s city centre by bus, especially from those areas which are not well-served by rail. For example, buses will still be required on Manukau Rd, Mt Eden Road, Dominion Rd, Sandringham Rd, and Jervois Rd, which are some of the densest parts of the region. The CRL does not make buses go away, even if it allows their role to change in some parts of the region, and that buses will continue to be an important part of Auckland’s public transport system for the foreseeable future.
For this reason Jarrett suggested that we start thinking about how buses can be integrated into the city in a way that enables them to move efficiently, without clogging up the roads and detracting from urban amenity. And that means – in my opinion – that we need better bus infrastructure, like what you find in more enlightened cities overseas. Indeed, even Vienna – which is a city known for its relatively dense metro and tram network – has a bus system that carries 120 million passengers per year. That’s more than twice the passengers currently using Auckland’s bus network. Basically, there is no conceivable (realistic) future for public transport in Auckland that does not involve making better use of our buses.
Jarrett really lays down an intellectual challenge to people that “hate buses”.
In his talk Jarrett also emphasised that the best bus routes almost always make the best tram routes. So if you are a person who want trams to be part of Auckland’s transport future (and I would count myself as one of these people), then the best thing you can do is support the development of a high-quality bus network supported by appropriately future-proofed infrastructure.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy the presentation, albeit without audio/video (technical difficulties on the day meant this is unavailable). In my next post I’ll upload a copy of Jarrett’s talk at the public transport careers evening that was held at the University of Auckland (again apologies for the delay with getting this uploaded; I know some of you have been asking for it).
And for those of you who missed hearing Jarrett on his last visit, rest assured that we’re already working to bring him back to Auckland later this year.
Our Eastern Highway April Fool’s Day post was intended to be a funny joke, but since then a number of matters have made us wonder whether that post cut a bit closer to the truth than we had suspected. The first was Gerry Brownlee’s rather strange remarks during an interview with John Campbell where he was meant to be talking about the AMETI project, but came across as though he was talking about the Eastern Highway.
The second is obvious if you look a bit closer into the online Draft Unitary Plan – into the designations section under Auckland Transport you get designation number 1620:The area the designation covers seems to be quite significant – my best guess is highlighted in red in the Unitary Plan maps below:Like most people, I had thought that this project was long dead and buried – considering the significant grief it has brought over time to its promoters. Further south, the AMETI project generally picks up the parts of the old Eastern Highway project which made some sense and has attempted to stitch them together into a sensible project.
The designation description also seems to be in something of a time warp:
Proposed Eastern Transport Corridor.
This requirement for a designation has been carried forward from the former Auckland City 1991 Transitional District Plan, with its purpose being to secure the opportunity for a future transport corridor.
At the time of public notification of the Proposed District Plan (1 July 1993), it was not possible for the Council to delineate the final form of the transport corridor designation, as the necessary transport studies had not been completed.
The Council expects to be in a position by the end of 1997 to decide in principle the appropriate form or forms of transport for the transport needs and options for meeting them. As part of this process, the Council will consult with local residents and provide them with all relevant information as it becomes available.
If the Council proposes to carry out any development on the proposed Eastern Transport Corridor, the Council will withdraw this designation and replace it with a fresh requirement, in accordance with Section 168 of the Act. That fresh requirement will be publicly notified, and determined in accordance with the provisions of Part VIII of the Act.
The expiry date of this designation was extended to 1 November 2015, by S78 of the Local Government (Auckland Transitional Provisions) Act 2010.
Note: In accordance with section 184A(2)(b) of the Act, the council resolved on 11 August 2004 that it had made, and was continuing to make, substantial progress or effort towards giving effect to the designation and extended the designation lapse period until 11 August 2014.
It’s worth noting that this designation does not provide for the construction of the project, but rather just secures the corridor so that it can’t be used for other purposes (although seemingly most of the land it covers is already owned by NZTA or the Council). Yet it seems strange to even bother having this designation retained for a project that is not even in the 30 year vision of the Auckland Plan.
Unless something weird is going on behind the scenes over trying to revive this project, the Unitary Plan certainly seems like a golden opportunity to finally bury the Eastern Highway forever as a bad idea. We’ve already got a high-speed, high-capacity route along its alignment – the railway line. The last thing we need is a motorway to duplicate the line and funnel a heap of traffic right into downtown Auckland, at a gigantic cost and with huge environmental destruction.
Over the next week we’re going to try and focus a lot on the Unitary Plan – as the May 31st deadline for closing of submissions looms closer and closer. Given that the NZ Herald seems to have gone off the deep end in its complete misunderstanding of the planning system, while the Council doesn’t seem particularly effective at getting the message across, perhaps this focus can be constructive in looking at what’s worth supporting in the Unitary Plan and what should be amended to make the plan better. This posts picks up on a number of key points that we plan on making in our submission on the Unitary Plan: points that might be worth reiterating in your submission.
It is important to start by repeating that there are many good reasons to support the intent of the Draft Unitary Plan- the core purpose of it. In many ways the Unitary Plan will make perhaps the most important contribution to the Auckland Plan’s vision of making Auckland the world’s most liveable city – in the way it seeks to manage the tricky balance between making development easier (to ease affordability problems) but at the same time ensuring that development is good quality, in the right places and supported by necessary infrastructure. Critically, the Unitary Plan has taken the opportunity to not only bring together existing District and Regional Plans around Auckland, but also at the same time provide for a transformational shift in the future shape of Auckland in a way that supports the development strategy of the Auckland Plan. This bold approach is to be encouraged and must be maintained.
Key parts of the Unitary Plan we support include:
- Provision for ‘upzoning’ of land in a number of strategically important locations around Auckland. In particular, there appears to be good alignment between the zoning structure of the Unitary Plan and Auckland’s existing and future public transport network.
- The Unitary Plan includes robust assessment criteria to ensure that intensification is of a good quality. In particular the criteria relating to ensuring carparking does not dominate the streetscape are utterly essential in creating quality centres.
- The removal of minimum parking requirements in a number of zones gives effect to Directive 10.6 of the Auckland Plan and reflects growing international evidence that minimum parking requirements are perhaps the most critical planning rule that shapes urban form and transport outcomes.
- The removal of density controls in the Terraced Housing and Apartment Building zone, and the Mixed Use zone. Density controls undermine the ability to provide affordable housing by encouraging very large houses so developers can maximise their profit. Density often also has little to do with environmental outcomes as a single very large house can have greater effects than two or three much smaller houses.
Of course there are also a number of parts of the Unitary Plan that need improving. We’ll try to look at a number of these in detail over the next week but generally they are:
- In some locations it appears as though obvious opportunities for enabling intensification have been missed or the zoning is just illogical. We’ll try to pull together a reasonably comprehensive list of these but it’s worth scanning through the zoning maps to see whether anything “sticks out”. There’s a weird block of light industrial zoned land in the middle of Grafton, which seemingly obviously should be Mixed Use, for example.
- The urban land supply section of the Plan’s Regional Policy Statement needs to give clearer guidance in ensuring greenfield land is planned for appropriately and only released if absolutely required. There should also not be any ability to extend the rural urban boundary. While this might be overridden by the Auckland Housing Accord in the short term, in the longer term there’s likely to be a big risk of “hodge podge” sprawl randomly proposed in various parts of the new greenfield areas.
- There should be some variation in the future development potential of Metropolitan Centres based on their particular characteristics rather than blanket rules across all of these key centres.
- There should be the ability for some areas zoned Mixed Use to develop to a greater extent where the effects on surrounding communities would be minor and there is particularly good public transport access. Great North Road between Grey Lynn and town is a great example of this.
- The parking rules should be re-looked at quite extensively, including the removal of minimum parking requirements completely (particularly in the Mixed Housing zone).
- The Mixed Housing zone and Terraced Housing and Apartment Building (THAB) zone appear to be trying to do the job of three zones, with three-level fee-simple terraced housing (a typology with much potential in Auckland) being ‘squeezed out’. A third zone, specifically aimed at providing for that typology, is suggested. We’ll talk about this in more detail in a day or two.
Perhaps the one further thing yesterday’s Herald article highlighted is the need for the Unitary Plan to be clearer about what it does want and what it doesn’t want. It does seem weird that building anything in the THAB zone (which we obviously want to happen) requires the same level of consent as breaching a height limit (which we probably don’t want to happen 95% of the time).
Please add your suggestions for improvements, with reasons why in the comments and we’ll aim to generate a good crowd sourced submission.
If your interested in history then a useful resource is Papers past which is part of the National Libraries. They describe it as;
Papers Past contains more than two million pages of digitised New Zealand newspapers and periodicals. The collection covers the years 1839 to 1945 and includes 77 publications from all regions of New Zealand.
Because all of the resources are fully searchable it makes extremely useful and is where I was able find this newspaper page. This week they added the editions of the NZ Herald from 1885 to 1924. While having a very quick look search through I came across what appears to have been a letter to the editor from 1924.
The Morningside Deviation that is referred to is what is now known as the City Rail Link. What I found interesting is that while some of the terminology and language used highlights that this is old, many of the arguments are the same we hear today. In particular the suggestions that we don’t need rail as buses can do the job and that we should instead focus on a harbour crossing.
Many of those that oppose the CRL like to use very similar arguments to what was presented here in 1924. It seems some things never change, we instead need to just get on with the task and finally get this project built.
Note: the first reference to the Morningside Deviation in the Herald appears to have been in 1918. That means that even if we get the CRL opened to the timetable that the council is hoping for (2021) it would have over 100 years since the project was first proposed.
At an announcement today, Auckland Transport have said that the AT HOP card will be start going live on buses in June with Urban Express buses the first to go live.
AT HOP roll-out planned for buses in June
Following its introduction on trains and ferries at the end of 2012, the AT HOP card has now completed testing on buses. Testing commenced in April, ahead of the planned, public rollout to all Auckland bus services from June this year.
Auckland Transport’s Chief Operating Officer, Greg Edmonds says, “This final stage of the roll-out of AT HOP is the largest piece of one of the most transformational transport projects in the city. Auckland has 1100 buses in its fleet and carries 80% of public transport users which equates to 54 million passenger journeys a year. This means the roll-out is significant and must be handled carefully”.
Mr Edmonds says that in order to manage the scale of the roll-out Auckland Transport will be phasing the introduction of AT HOP on buses to ensure the smoothest transition possible for customers.
The roll-out is planned to start with Urban Express bus services in June. Birkenhead Transport, NorthStar, Ritchies, Northern Express, Metrolink, Go West and Waka Pacific are planned to follow through to November.
Howick & Eastern, Bayes, Fullers Waiheke Bus Company, the Airporter and Airbus are planned in the final phase to the end of the year.
”As each bus service begins its roll-out we will be providing more detailed information to customers.” Mr Edmonds says.
“The AT HOP card will bring Auckland in line with many other international cities by providing an integrated public transport ticketing system”.
The AT HOP card can be topped up online, at an Auckland Transport Ticket & Top Up machine or in person at a ticket office. Purchasing an AT HOP card may save up to 10% off single trip cash fares (excluding the NiteRider bus service). An AT HOP card also allows free unlimited access to ride on the City LINK bus service.
Registering an AT HOP card online helps to protect your card from unauthorised use should it be lost or stolen, while also helping to protect the balance stored on the card within 24 hours from the time it is reported missing. Cards can be registered online at ATHOP.co.nz.
Based on what we saw when the Snapper HOP card rolled out and when the system went live on the trains, there are obviously going to be a lot of communications to go out and that process will start next week. They also said that ticket machines would be going in at Northern Busway stations and that they would be rolling out a network of at least 55 locations where people can purchase and top up their cards if people don’t want to use the online facility. I will post a map once AT are able to provide it.
The process for changing over to HOP sounds like it will be very similar to what happened when NZ Bus launched the Snapper Hop card. There will be free HOP cards for those with existing operator specific cards and the balance will be able to transferred to the HOP card however it will be easiest if the cards are run down as much as possible. If you have a Snapper card and want to keep it for micro transactions then you can do so. There will also be plenty of ambassadors at bus stops to help out too.
It is expected that all bus companies will be operating using HOP by the end of the year and in 2014 Auckland Transport will start the processes needed to move to integrated fares.
Many readers have already noticed that the HOP readers are starting to be installed on buses and quite a few of you have sent in photos of them. Here is one example from Andrew.
What was also interesting and extremely positive, was to see the NZTA at the announcement too supporting the need for integrated ticketing. They have also issued a press release regarding it.
Auckland’s HOP card extension good news for NZ says NZTA
The NZ Transport Agency says the rollout of new electronic ticket readers on Auckland buses will also be good news for people using public transport well beyond the boundaries of New Zealand’s largest city.
“Auckland, because of its size, is the foundation of this extended electronic fare-paying system. We’re confident that this is a well designed system for the city that can be easily modified and adapted for use in other centres,” says the NZTA’s Group Manager for Planning and Investment, Dave Brash.
The installation of the ticket readers on buses from next month means Aucklanders will need only use their HOP smartcards once to pay for a multi-mode trip on all public transport services – ferries, trains and now buses.
The NZTA has partnered with Auckland Transport and its predecessor, the Auckland Regional Transport Authority, since 2005 to develop the city’s integrated ticketing programme, with an estimated funding contribution of $59.5m and the development of a parallel national ticketing programme, including the development of a national ticketing standard which enables integration with ticketing equipment and transport service providers in other centres.
Earlier this month, the NZTA awarded its first national ticketing standards compliance certificate to Thales New Zealand after the successful certification of the company’s new ticketing devices for Auckland’s buses. Mr Brash says NZTA investment in the development and implementation of the Auckland Integrated Fare System (AIFS) to create national ticketing standards delivers several benefits for public transport users all across the country.
”The central processing system developed for Auckland can be re-used by other regional councils as part of a national framework. As regions upgrade their ticketing systems, they will be able to purchase equipment which complies with the national standards and plug into the central processing system, ensuring that they will enjoy the benefits of a shared national systems approach, rather than having to pay a premium to develop separate ticketing systems.”
Mr Brash says the national standard could eventually mean people being able to use the same smart card in more than one centre, and the information about travel patterns in different cities collected by the NZTA’s central processing system would also provide a wealth of data that can be used to make better informed public transport decisions.
“Cities around the world with effective integrated ticketing systems have seen strong growth in public transport patronage, a better return on new public transport investments, and better road transport efficiency.
“We are aiming to achieve the same results here in New Zealand. Our growing cities mean more people rely on easy to use, effective public transport to get around. A key feature of successful public transport networks around the world is an integrated ticketing system that allows people to transfer easily between bus, train, ferry on a single ticket, making public transport a more attractive option.”
It’s good to finally have some solid information about this. There were lots of questions asked about the project so if you want to know something, ask and I will try and answer.
In the past the use of our streets wasn’t so defined as it is today. Sure there were footpaths however people, cars, trams and even horse drawn carts all had equal access to the road. The image below of Queen St in 1922 shows this well, after all can you imagine the reaction you would get today if a group of guys decided to stop for a chat in one of the traffic lanes on Queen St.
Queen Street, Auckland. Smith, Sydney Charles, 1888-1972 : Photographs of New Zealand. Ref: 1/2-046201-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/23203589
But over time we went from this and turned over as much of our streets as possible to the movement of cars. For the reason why, I believe the answer lies partly in human nature and partly in the saying “you can only manage what you can measure”. For the former the car is meant to represent freedom, the ability to go where you want and when you want so I doubt there is a single person who gets behind the wheel of a car and enjoys it when they held up as it goes against the very dream upon which cars were sold to us on.
As more and more people took to driving, there became increasing problems with congestion. In an attempt to solve that congestion traffic engineers looked at ways of increasing the amount of road space available, taking over road space that was once used by everyone and devoting it solely to the movement of vehicles. I believe that one of the key ways they were able to do this is because they realised how important it was to count traffic. The engineers were able to fairly accurately point out just how much traffic there was and how fast it was growing. Over time the movement of as many vehicles as possible became the most important aspect and justification for nibbling away at the pedestrian environment for which there was no such usage information.
But why was there no information about the pedestrian environment? I suspect there are two reasons. The first being that we forgot that a street isn’t just a place for movement from A to B but that it is a place for interaction and activity. In effect we took it for granted that we could change the quality of it but that the use of it would stay the same. We also didn’t have any way to measure the pedestrian use of a street. In fact up until recently the only way to really get a feeling for how many people using a street was to hire a whole bunch of people and have them manually count every single person. As you can imagine that isn’t a cheap proposition so it can only be done very infrequently which means counts are subject to issues like weather, special events or other influences.
Thankfully that is now starting to change. Just over a year ago, Heart of The City (HoTC) in conjunction with the Auckland Council started installing automatic pedestrian counters in various locations throughout the city. Here is the press release from the time.
We are excited to announce that we are taking real steps towards understanding how people use the Auckland City Centre at all times of the day with our new high tech counting equipment. The new 24/7 monitoring system charts pedestrian numbers and provides meaningful performance data to assist property owners and retailers and track the impact of events and other activities that occur in the city.
The previous ‘snapshot’ system provided data gathered on a Wednesday in mid-October every year – rain, hail or shine. Of course the weather, or road works or a cruise ship or even a blockbuster sale all had huge impacts on the results. but a lot can happen over a year in such a vibrant place like the City Centre, so getting better data was essential.
With this new technology, we now have automated pedestrian counts on a 24/7 basis, which enables us to better understand the pedestrian numbers at any time or day of the year, and compare current and long term trends in the City Centre.
Understanding pedestrian counts is also key determinant for setting rental values, as well assisting businesses in determining where they want to locate, and even their opening hours.
On Saturday 17 March when the city centre hosted both the Volvo Ocean Race and St Patrick’s Day celebration, pedestrian numbers at the bottom of Queen Street increased by 63% on the previous four Saturdays.
Four locations in the City Centre have the automated counting technology – three in Queen Street and one in High Street. The data is instantly sent back over the 3G network to a server at HOTCity offices, where ‘real time reports’ can be downloaded over the web at any time. Heart of the City members will be the first to see the counts.
One of the important ways of keeping a tab on a city centre’s progress is to monitor and report on pedestrian foot traffic. The system is already proving it’s worth and we hope, in partnership with others, to be able to expand the number of locations over time to cover the whole City Centre.
HoTC are able to get some very detailed data from these devices and since that press release have added three more sites to the network. They eventually intend to have 15 of them scattered around the city centre and they have been publishing a summary of the data collected on their website. The current locations are:
Note: 205 Queen St hasn’t been updated on the map yet
One of the things I like about the summary data provided is that HoTC show the average Weekday, Saturday, Sunday and Public Holiday counts which means that the numbers aren’t subject to the changes in the calendar like we have with the PT stats. Here are the average weekday pedestrian counts (excluding public holidays).
This shows quite nicely just how many more pedestrians are walking up and down Queen St every day compared to the other streets in the CBD. The numbers suggest that depending on which part of Queen St you look at, pedestrian volumes tend to range from 45,000-60,000 people per day. It is also surprising that Darby St seems to have better pedestrian volumes than High St – although admittedly it is compared to the worst end of High St. Unfortunately we can’t compare these Queen St pedestrian volumes with vehicle numbers as the last traffic count that I can find for it was done in 2004 which was before the upgrade which delivered significant improvements to pedestrian priority. Back then there were around 20,000 vehicles per day using the road but I suspect it is much less now.
Here are the volumes for Saturdays
And here are Sundays.
I have left out Public Holidays as they are obviously a bit more sporadic.
Overall this is a great development and I hope we eventually see more around not just the CBD but in other areas too. It’s just a shame that we didn’t have these counters sooner, how great would have been great to be able to see the impact that the various upgrades have had?
I have been keeping an eye on these numbers for a while and post them more regularly from on.
Last week the Government announced it had reached a housing accord with the Auckland Council in a bid to get more houses built and ease issues over housing affordability.
The legislation, to be introduced to Parliament as part of Budget 2013, will enable Special Housing Areas to be created by the Auckland Council with approval of Government. In these areas it will be possible to override restrictions on housing put in place by Auckland’s eight predecessor Councils, like the Metropolitan Urban Limit.
Qualifying developments in these Special Housing Areas will be able to be streamlined, providing they are consistent with Auckland’s Unitary Plan, once it is notified, expected in September this year. New greenfield developments of more than 50 dwellings will be able to be approved in six months as compared to the current average of three years and brownfield developments in three months as compared to the current average of one year. The streamlined process will not be available for high rise developments that will need to be considered under existing rules until the Unitary Plan has been finalised in 2016.
“This is a three year agreement to address these housing supply issues in the interim until Auckland Council’s Unitary Plan becomes fully operative and the Government’s Resource Management Act reforms for planning processes take effect.
“The Government respects in this Accord that it is for Auckland to decide where and how it wishes to grow. The Government is giving new powers for council to get some pace around new housing development and is agreeing on aspirational targets to ensure Auckland’s housing supply and affordability issues are addressed.
Overall the accord seemed straight forward enough and fairly sensible. At a high level the council would decide on a number of Special Housing Areas. Qualifying developments within these areas are able to use a fast tracked process to get consent and would have to comply with the rules in the Unitary Plan when it is formally notified later this year.
To me the accord seemed fairly positive as it would make it quite easy for medium density developments – the kind that will likely be the majority of intensification that occurs – to happen in any brownfield areas selected. This was especially the case as a site only needs capacity for 5 dwellings to qualify. There was one issue though, while the council would be able to select the special housing areas, the government had to approve them. That leaves the question of what happened if the council and government couldn’t agree on where the special housing areas should be.
Today it seems we have our answer. Along with the budget, the government has introduced the legislation to enable the special housing areas to be designated. Nick Smith has also issued a press release about it which includes this.
“If an accord cannot be reached in an area of severe housing unaffordability, the Government can intervene by establishing special housing areas and issuing consents for developments.”
Budget 2013 includes $7.2 million over four years to help the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment fund the initiative.
The legislation will go through its first reading as part of Budget 2013 before being sent to a select committee for a shortened six-week timetable for urgent consideration and progress.
“This legislation is an immediate and short-term response to housing pressures in areas facing severe housing affordability problems,” Dr Smith says.
“This provides time for the Government’s substantive changes to resource management reforms and the subsequent council planning processes to bear fruit and address these land and housing supply issues in the longer term.”
In other words, if the council and government can’t come to an agreement on the locations for the special housing areas, the government will simply override the council and do what they want. It makes a complete mockery of the announcement that the government and council made last week. It turns out that this is not a case of both sides compromising but one of the government twisting the councils arm behind its back to get their way while also forcing the council to smile at the camera and pretend everything is good.
Len Brown has obviously also been surprised by this as he has already come out with the statement below.
Auckland Mayor Len Brown has welcomed the introduction of legislation for housing accords, but says he will be seeking clarification on a number of points to ensure the final legislation is consistent with the draft Auckland Housing Accord.
“There are clauses in the bill introduced today that appear to be inconsistent with the Auckland Housing Accord,” says Len Brown.
“My expectation is that the Select Committee process will provide an opportunity to clear up these inconsistencies.
“Clearly, in relation to the accord, the point of the legislation is to give effect to the agreements we reached.
“The accord still needs to be considered and agreed by the Auckland Council’s Governing Body. Before we can do this we need to be certain that the legislation is consistent with the agreements in the accord.
Len Brown said he would be writing to Housing Minister Nick Smith to raise questions about the consistency of the accord and the current bill.
The Housing Accord is an agreement between Auckland Mayor Len Brown and the Minister of Housing aimed at tackling issues of housing affordability and supply in Auckland.
It is subject to agreement by Auckland Council.
The streamlined consenting process outlined in the accord can only take effect once the council’s draft Unitary Plan is adopted for notification – expected to be September this year.
It would also be interesting to see how the government determine housing unaffordability, my guess would be the flawed Demographia study as it is something that the government have pointed to in the past.
There has been a lot of talk about the new bus network that was first proposed in the Regional Public Transport Plan. Thankfully it received extremely strong support from those that made submissions allowing Auckland Transport to start working towards implementing it. While the overall concept has been accepted, there is still a long way to go yet as the specific routes that make up the network will need to be consulted on. Today Auckland Transport have formally started that process with the release of a video to explain the new network. Here is the press release:
Transforming Auckland’s Public Transport Network
Auckland Transport will shortly hit the streets to consult over the New Network for public transport services in Auckland.
The New Network is a region wide public transport network which is proposed to deliver bus services at least every 15 minutes throughout the day, seven days a week on major routes between the hours of 7am to 7pm. Services will connect better with train services for those customers who require connections.
The New Network will be rolled out by Auckland Transport over the next three years starting with bus services in South Auckland in 2014/15.
To help people understand what the New Network will mean for them, prior to consultation, Auckland Transport has released a video guide today. It can be viewed at: http://www.aucklandtransport.govt.nz/newnetwork
Auckland Transport’s Chief Executive David Warburton says; “We are in a period of transformational transport change in Auckland. Any change is challenging. Significant changes in the transport area in Auckland includes the completion over the coming months of Auckland’s integrated smartcard for public transport, the final step in the introduction of the AT HOP card on bus services following the roll-out last year on trains and ferries, the arrival of the first of Auckland’s fleet of new trains and our New Network for public transport services. These are large-scale transport projects for a city undergoing transformation.
“If Auckland is to cope with expected growth in population, public transport must become a very real transport choice for more Aucklanders. But in order to encourage greater uptake, we need to make bold changes to provide a better level of service, respond to public demand and expectation and provide better connections to the places people want to go.
“Due to the sheer scale of the changes we are proposing, consultation and implementation for the New Network will be broken up into several phases. Consultation on the New Network begins in June in South Auckland. Other parts of Auckland will be consulted on in the coming years”.
Dr Warburton says, “The changes will not happen immediately. Any significant transformation requires disruption which is part of change. Implementation of the New Network for public transport will be challenging for a period.
“The video released today demonstrates the scale of the changes the New Network will bring to Auckland.
“In June and July, Auckland Transport will have people in the markets, shopping centres, transport hubs and on the streets in South Auckland talking to customers about these changes and getting their views”.
Dr Warburton says, “ The public will be invited to fill out feedback forms at the Open Days and can also provide feedback at our consultation webpage www.aucklandtransport.govt.nz/newnetwork, or by filling out our freepost feedback form”.
I must say, this is probably the best press release I think that AT have done. I love how they have talked about how transformational this will be and how all of the key PT projects, integrated ticketing, electrification and the new bus network tie in together. But the good news doesn’t stop there. The video they have produced is superb and easily the best they have done to explain any project. It excellently explains why we need the new network, the logic behind it and even some of the finer details about the proposal.
On the page AT have set up for the new network, they also have a new and very pretty version of the frequent network map that we have seen before.
All up I am very happy, not just with the new network but with how AT have started to communicate it. If they carry on in this same vein for both the network and other projects like the CRL then it will really help in getting the public to understand why these projects are needed.
Good work AT, give yourselves a pat on the back.