The Auckland plan set the vision for the next 30 years but the council now has to turn that vision into reality which is why it is so critically important that they get the unitary plan right. The unitary plan is the combination of all of the individual district plans that act as the rulebooks that specify where and how development can occur. We have already covered some of the decisions that will need to be made in the unitary plan, particularly around minimum parking requirements.
As the council goes through the process of developing the plan they have already started engaging with the public on various issues. On Saturday I, along with a number of others took part in a workshop to talk about our thoughts. We were all divided up into different groups and talked through a number of key points. The tables I sat at all seemed to be fairly diverse groups covering pretty much every part of different spectrum’s. Considering this, perhaps what surprised me the most was just how much consensus there was on most issues we discussed. The day was divided into three sessions and in between each session we were encouraged to walk around and see the key points raised at the other tables which had been written down on paper. When doing so, not once did I see mention of wanting more motorways and very little focus on roads but I think every single table had listed that they wanted PT improved, in particular rail.
The discussion on housing options is perhaps where things surprised me the most. I never once heard someone complain about the need to intensify the city and most seemed quite open to it. Everyone it seemed identified that it is key that if we are to make intensification more attractive then we need to to improve the not just the design of buildings but ensure that they are livable by through things like good access to amenities. As an example, the council had proposed only allowing the most intensive developments allowable within 250m off development centres but at my table every single person rejected that saying it should be more like 500m-1km, the recognition was that people were prepared to walk/cycle further if the amenity was available. In fact while it wasn’t said directly, making our city less auto dependant was very strong theme in most of the points that people raised. Overall I got the impression that there is a lot more consensus on how we solve the issues that the city faces than perhaps comes across in the media or online.
The council have also set up an online forum at which you can share your thoughts and obviously respond to the thoughts of others. You should also join the councils Peoples Panel which is also used for other surveys.