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Unitary Plan and Public Transport

As outlined in my post yesterday the Unitary Plan submission period closes this Friday 5pm, so I am writing posts that discuss major points from the Generation Zero submission to help readers make an informed submission.

Over the next decade we are likely to see a major revolution in public transport in Auckland with new EMU’s, the frequent bus network, City Rail Link, and more busways in the various parts of town. This should result in areas with excellent public transport access becoming more attractive to Aucklanders for living. We should learn lessons from Vancouver where areas along the new Skytrain lines have been booming with residential development. The Unitary Plan should therefore ensure areas within the walking catchment of railway stations and other high quality public transport are generally be zoned to allow intensification. In some areas the plan has done an good job of this. Centres in the Isthmus with good public transport accessibility such as Glen Innes, Panmure, Avondale and New Lynn have been up zoned, usually to allow 8 or more stories.

However there are also some other areas that are mysteriously missed out from up zoning, and other prime locations where Light Industrial or Business Zones apply instead of zoning which allows residential development. The clearest example of misapplied zoning appears to be Morningside.

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Proposed Unitary Plan zoning for Morningside

 

The darker purple colours are the large area of land zoned Light Industrial. All these areas are less than 750m from the Morningside station. Already the train is an attractive option for commuters with a 21 minute journey time to Britomart. However the City Rail Link will cut this to about 15 minutes, with the cut even greater for thus who currently bus to the Midtown/Aotea area. Therefore this area of Light Industry should be zoned Mixed Use to allow intensification. Also importantly there are no Volcanic Viewshafts here so heights of 10 stories or more would be acceptable, though there would need to be a little graduation at the east end where light industrial abuts the Single House Zone. While the Unitary Plan tries to protect industrial land, this area is generally not being used for industrial purposes but business use such as indoor sports, small scale offices and retail. With quality residential high rise development Morningside could become a buzzing and connected area, much like what we see along the Skytrain lines in Vancouver.

There are similar issues along Great South Road between Greenlane and Ellerslie, with a corridor of Light Industrial. However in reality these are largely low value office and retail use, including many car yards. This should be zoned Mixed Use to allow some residential development, especially where this backs onto other residential streets. Again this whole corridor is within the 10 minute walking corridor of Greenlane and/or Ellerslie stations so are prime places to take advantage of investment in the rail corridor.

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The area around Newton will undergo substantial change as part of the City Rail Link, both through the construction of Newton station and demolition of low value for the southern tunnel portal. Newton station will only be an 8 minute ride from Britomart, so this area will really become part of the CBD proper. Some increased height is anticipated, but application seems uneven.

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The bold Pink is zoned Town Centre with a height of 4 stories, with is justified to protect the heritage buildings along the streets cape here. The rest of the light purple areas are Mixed Use which is great. However the Height Limit is 8 stories north of Newton Road, but only 5 stories south of Newton Road. The whole area should be zoned Mixed Use with a height limit of 8 stories. Construction of the City Rail Link tunnel portal will result in the purchase and demolition of a large number of properties between New North Road and the railway line. On completion of the City Rail Link this will result in a large parcel of land with excellent public transport access, and ripe for a major integrated development. This will be one of largest pieces of City Fringe land that could be redeveloped comprehensively. Therefore a more permissive height limit of 8 stories could result in a better outcome.

So please submit to ask for more intensification along public transport corridors and ensure the Unitary Plan takes into account planned public transport investment. Submissions can be made on the Auckland Council site here.

45 comments to Unitary Plan and Public Transport

  • Neil

    You are so focused on housing and ignore the requirement for places for people to work. Over half our population will never be suitable for, or want, an office job, yet you are advocating to turn many commercial/industrial areas into housing. “Integrated development” in the end forces industrial jobs out because of complaints over noise/smells or traffic.

    • Luke C

      where do I say that. I agree with the Unitary Plan protection of industrial land. But Morningside and Ellerslie are not industrial in the slightest. Modern industrial land needs large modern sites with large floorplates. However these 2 areas have old buildings on small sites, with minimum industrial use. If you are concerned about industrial land begin used up big box retail is the biggest culprit, especially as over half the land is used for parking. Just look at Panmure, Stoddard Road, Lincoln Road, Lunn Ave where light industrial has been replaced by big box retail. If this retail was located in redeveloped Mixed Use centres would make for much more efficient use of land.

      • Nicholson

        There’s no reason why what little light industry currently exists in Morningside couldn’t be integrated with extra floors of residental accommodation above/by it. Soundproofing can already deal with the existing train noise (lessening with the advent of EMUs), and the use of residential and commercial spaces would overlap very little (for 9-5 commuters). So many of those sites are underutilised and it’s such a great location (so handy to St Lukes! *gag*).

        • SDW

          Except that residential is non-complying which suggests Council doesn’t want it to go there and the upfront investment and risk required to obtain consent may not be worth it.

          In general, I’ve noticed the light industrial zone has been applied very haphazardly across Auckland – it generally doesn’t incorporate activities that one would associate as being industrial in nature. Many areas zoned Light Industry can be characterised more as commercial office areas or services (e.g. mechanic). In terms of protecting industrial land, the important part of the unitary plan is where Heavy industry has been provided for.

          • Can we not have actually light light industrial in a mixed use zone?

            I know a guy who uses his industrial unit to import and distribute car stereos and electronics. Zero reason he couldn’t do that in a mixed use zone. I think it is true that a lot of so called light industrial is simply commercial anyway.

      • Neil

        I was not talking about large industrial sites, rather small manufacturers and warehouses with an office above the showroom, panel beaters and specialist trades people. Many big box retailers need parking. You cannot take home your new BBQ or TV on the bus. Nor can you carry home the weekly visit to the supermarket on a train.

        • Luke C

          Why can’t you take your shopping home on the train or bus? There are 2 very busy supermarkets in the CBD with no parking at all. Also home delivery services become more and more widespread, people can’t take fridges home from box box stores, but they get them delivered. Yes families will still often drive to the supermarket, but point was these areas are taking up industrial land not residential.
          The small manufacturers, warehousing and trades are welcome to stay in the Mixed Use areas. There are still some of these in the CBD despite the land value, as well as existing Mixed Use suburbs where these activities mix with Residential. All I’m arguing is this mixing should be able to occur in Morningside and Greenlane too.

          • I take home my shopping on the bus, enough for my household for a week.

          • Neil

            Weekly food shopping for a family fills a supermarket trolley. You cannot carry this amount on a bus. Supermarkets can have parking underneath, such as 277 and Quay St, it is just a matter of $$. Home delivery only works when they deliver at night when there is someone home. Supermarkets only take industrial land when they can get no other.

          • Families make up less than half the households in Auckland. Perhaps we should make some allowance for the majority too?

          • Linz

            As we move into a more urban setting we can also move away from industrial-scale grocery shopping, buying daily from the local shops in the neighbourhood on the way home from the train station or the bus stop. Some locals find this hard to comprehend, but millions of people live this way and are healthier and wealthier for it; and the urban fabric is hugely enriched. The higher cost of the groceries is more than offset by not having to buy and store an extra car or two.

          • Neil

            This is not the trend in Singapore or Malaysia, quite the opposite, where working mothers are abandoning local shops and wet markets for supermarkets. What does remain popular is neighbourhood food courts.

          • JohnP

            I wonder if Auckland would still be ranked 3rd most liveable city if everyone had to cart groceries on a bus. Best to avoid the ice cream! I always smile at the I do it so everyone else should as well type of suggestion. Some people carry their groceries on their head, does that mean we all should? As for urban people shouldn’t go to supermarkets perhaps someone should tell the British. http://www.theguardian.com/business/2011/dec/21/supermarkets-plan-build-thousands-stores . They got 110 planning consents approved for supermarkets in London alone in 2010.

          • Isn’t that exactly what Neil said there John: I can’t take home my weeks groceries on a bus so no one else can either?

            Hell it’s not like Auckland is exactly lacking in options for driving to the supermarket and filling up the boot, what is so wrong with a few zones where that isn’t possible?

          • Linz

            Britain is hardly a poster child for modern sustainable urban living. Try telling the millions of Swiss, Danes and Austrians who don’t drive to the supermarket that they’re mistaken. Even in London only around 30% of households have a car.

          • V Lee

            JohnP, NickR never said that because he does it everyone should. Neil said it was impossible so Nick responded that it was possible with the example that he does it. That seems a perfectly reasonable response.

            It is about more choices not less. At the moment people in Auckland have very little opportunity to get by without cars. People who use cars are very well catered for and will remain to be catered for in the future – but this blog is advocating for the rules to allow more of the type of development that will allow people the choice of living without a car. At the moment this kind of development is against the rules in much of Auckland, why shouldn’t the rules be relaxed so people can choose to build or live/rent in a residence that suits their choice of lifestyle?

          • Martin W.

            As one of that “weird” Austrians who do not drive to the supermarket, I have one comment to JohnP. Yes there are plenty of supermarkets build in Europe. However, the large difference is the size of them. A typical european supermarket is about of the size of the Metro Countdown or Metro Newworld here or the Aldi stores in Australia (they have only about 600-800m2 store size). They typically cater the residents in a certain area, density relation is about 1 supermarket for about 5000 inhabitants. Then, and those are the ones which get compared to the New Zealand Supermarkets, with about 1 store for 30k or 50k inhabitants are the HYPERmarkets in Europe. Similar size like normal Countdown here. So we have actually 2 levels of markets there.

        • Steve D

          There are a lot of barbecues that wouldn’t fit in a lot of cars, either. If you’re buying big ticket items, they generally offer (or even include) delivery.

          But that’s kind of beside the point: the Mixed Use zone still allows unlimited on-site parking every bit as much as Light Industrial. There’s no reason parking-heavy sorts of businesses couldn’t remain.

    • aa

      That area in Morningside is currently Bus 4 so residential is not allowed at all (non complying activity) which has been a pain – and is same as in the APUP light industrial zone.

      If it was Mixed Use then industrial would be Non Complying, but most of the stuff that happens there now would be ok as well as residential. Artisan Industrial, warehousing and storage, retail & office (within size limits), repair and maintenance businesses, light manufacture, industrial labs etc. are all Permitted in Mixed Use. Seems far more sensible.

      • Neil

        If Morningside was made Mixed Use then most of the light industrial/commercial would soon be squeezed out. They could not afford the rents, and need single high stud ground level.

        • Christopher T

          The fact that the area is zoned
          light industrial is a legacy of the time Auckland was divided up into borough councils; each borough felt the need to designate an industrial area and Morningside filled the ticket for the Mt Albert Borough Council largely because it had a railway station and associated facilities and was not deemed particularly desirable for residential purposes. There’s no reason why that designation should stand if there are more efficient uses proposed, e.g.intensive residential for the land.

        • Nick R

          Right, so why are we downzining valuable land and keeping it for big sheds when there is market demand for far more efficien uses?

          Surely the places that need lots of cheap land should go to where there is lots of cheap land, rather than have laws to artificially suppress pockets of high value land for them?

          • Neil

            Because we need many of these businesses near where we work and live. Panel beaters need to be near customers. Ditto plumbers, and other tradesmen. If you put warehouses out in remote areas then you increase the distance trucks travel to stock the warehouse and to distribute the goods. And those who work in them have further to travel.

          • aa

            Panel beaters are Permitted in the Mixed Use zone as is warehousing etc. Anyway the point is why do they need to be by the railway station when that’s the perfect location for residential? No one takes their car to the panel beater on the train. No one stocks their plumbers warehouse by train. No customer visits their panel beater or plumbing warehouse on a daily basis. so what if they have to drive to Rosebank road once every 5-10 years. It’s no harder/further to stock a retail warehouse in Rosebank Road than Morningside – where do you think they stock them from ? It’s not the CBD.

          • I must confess to previously dropping off our car at a servicing garage near Mt Eden Station once every six months before catching the train onward, and back to pick it up in the evening. But that’s because it’s already laid out like that, I agree it’s not a good use of that land.

          • aa

            There’s a lot of central areas that are zoned Mixed Use so can have both residential and car servicing/panel beaters etc. where the panel beaters etc. have not been forced out simply because they are also zoned residential years ago. Grey Lynn around Gt North Road is one. Back Streets of Newmarket are zoned for 15-21m high mixed use and are full of panel beaters, garages, warehousing etc etc.

  • Sam

    From memory otahuhu train station could have better use around it also.

    • In fact the area around Otahuhu Train Station is just one of the areas there, Otahuhu is bad in terms of wasted space, there’s a large stretch between Portage and Princess St on Great South Road that is just full of car yards. It’s just so dreary…

      • TheBigWheel

        Totally agree about Otahuhu.

        You could add Penrose, surrounded by cars and a dirty great timber yard.. complete with potholed unsealed ground on north exit which dumps you right onto GSR with no footpath in one direction and no crossing. Nice.

        To Neil’s point above, plenty of people still work in manufacturing / industry (growing sectors in NZs economy).. train services, including the station environment, in areas like Penrose and Otahuhu could be much better, and would not cost a lot to make substantial improvements. Not everyone going to / from these places is driving with a truck load of gear in the back. There are office workers all over Auckland, not just the CBD / Ponsonby.

        Just keeping it real here..

  • SDW

    I have a feeling the height limits around Newton may be to do with the Mt Eden view protection corridor.

    • Luke C

      yeh it may be the case in some areas, but probably not down the lower part near Mt Eden station, which is where the terrain will disappear for the tunnel entrance. Haven’t had the time to look into this in detail, quite hard to figure it out. But would be good to get more than 5 stories where the viewshaft allowed.

    • Height limits and view shaft controls are two separate and binding controls, you are simply constrained to the lesser of the two.

      • SDW

        agreed, but there is no point in stating a height limit is 50m in one control when it could never go above 20m under another.

        • Steve D

          Rather like the “special character” areas. The character rules already prohibit demolishing existing houses. There’s no need to also have restrictive anti-density rules.

  • Don’t forget that Ellerslie is represented by Denise Krum, who campaigned loudly on a platform of misinformed fear-mongering about heights in the DUP and then promptly signed on with Brewer and Quax in support of the motion of no-confidence. I consider it likely that my ward councillor will argue stridently against intensified residential development in that area.

    • Luke C

      Councillors don’t get a say anymore. Also Mixed Use similar height limits to Light Industry, so not necessarily allowing more height. And Krum claims is ok with intensification outside of suburbia.

      • Steve D

        Councillors do get a say: if the board orders changes to the Unitary Plan, the council still have to agree to them. It’s up to councillors to accept the changes or argue the toss, or come up with something totally different.

        • SDW

          But they will also open themselves up to appeals to the Environment Court if they do that – the machinations of Councillors who altered the draft UP without evidence first time round wouldn’t cut it when subject to the scrutiny of the courts. I imagine they will be more restrained second time round or face exposing Council to a hefty legal bill.

          • Steve D

            Yes, but the worst that can happen is that the Unitary Plan is endlessly delayed and/or the central government steps in to save the day/steamroller the whole thing. There’s many councillors who’d be happy with one or both of those.

  • Mike F

    In the Greenlane map you will notice on Nolan road 2 sections that are now to be rezoned commercial from the existing residential (to be fair they have been used for a number of years as car parking for the car yard off Great South Rd) however changing it’s zoning is the start of the commercial creep into residential They (Winger) also own a number of the Nolan Road properties adjoining this rezone. I agree with Luke that this land is too valuable for car sales yards being so close to Greenlane station.

  • nzdn

    If I largely agree with the views on this blog regarding the unitary plan, what should I put in my submission? If you could put it all into one copy-pastable post that would be really helpful.

    • SDW

      you could keep it fairly general – re support intensification, parking maximums etc. oppose x, y, z. Nothing long at all, just get your foot in the door. When it comes time for further submissions you can then piggy back in support of the more detailed submissions like what GenZero and others will be preparing.

  • harminder

    Since these areas seem so obviously mis-zoned, does anyone know why they were left as Light Industrial and not changed to Mixed use? Is there a business lobby from these areas that pushed for this decision, or maybe the Council’s planners felt that moving out the firms that operate there currently would incur the wrath of the Herald? ;-)

    On the point about supermarkets, there’s an interesting trend in the UK (& I guess the US too) where more supermarket chains are building “dark stores”, which are supermarkets used by employees to pick groceries that have been ordered for home delivery: http://www.theguardian.com/business/shortcuts/2014/jan/07/inside-supermarkets-dark-stores-online-shopping. One of the existing industrial buildings besides the Morningside train station would be a great fit for that- it could even double up as a retail store and be linked to the train station for commuters to do their shopping.

    • SDW

      It may be a relic of the current zoning, Council most likely decided anything in the Former Business X zone for example would become Light Industry without ground-truthing it and seeing how/what the area had developed into.

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