As part of the works for the City Rail Link, Queen Elizabeth Square will be completely dug up however as we know it won’t be replaced, instead the square has been sold to Precinct Properties and will be developed. In its place the current road area of Queen St between Customs and Quay Streets – with the exception of a small access to Galway St and from Tyler St – will be created.
The council have also said the proceeds of the sale of QE Square would be used to go towards at least two of three new public spaces proposed along the waterfront and that the spaces should be delivered by 2018. An update to the council’s Auckland City Centre Advisory Board a few weeks ago gives an update on that with some useful information about what we’ll get. The three potential public spaces are
- new/improved space west of Queens Wharf on the water’s edge at the foot of Lower Albert Street
- improved space around the historic ferry building and at the base of Queens Wharf
- new/improved space east of Queens Wharf in the Admiralty Steps area.
Of the spaces the third is tied up in what is currently the operational area for the port so relies on the outcome of study into the ports future. That means the two spaces being focused on are 1 and 2. The report says that within the ferry basin the plan will deliver a total public space of 4,700m² of which 2,100m² will be brand new space. To put that in comparison the area being lost from QE Square is about 1,800m². As you can see that will obviously require some changes to the current ferry piers.
The report highlights a few major issues related to budgets.
- The council won’t receive the money from Precinct for QE Square till at least February 2018 which is about 6 months later than when they estimate they need to start construction and of course money is needed immediately for design, planning and consenting works.
- A pre-requisite for the works is the seismic upgrade to the Quay St seawall however that isn’t budgeted to occur till after 2020.
- It requires redevelopment of the downtown ferry terminal however that isn’t currently budgeted for in the 10 year Long Term Plan.
The minutes aren’t available to confirm what was agreed however the City Centre Integration team were looking for an agreement in principle to use funding from the CBD targeted rate to progress the investigation and design of project.
Last week new Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was making some excellent comments about cities, now it’s the turn of his wife who is chair of the think tank Committee for Sydney and is a former Lord Mayor of Sydney. She is talking about an issue I’ve long agreed with and have unsuccessfully tried to get some guest posts on.
The chair of the thinktank Committee for Sydney, Lucy Turnbull, has called on city planners and designers to make building female-friendly cities a core component of urban renewal.
“If a city is female-friendly, it is friendly for everybody,” Turnbull told Fairfax Media in an interview published on Sunday.
“It’s not an exclusionary idea of female-friendly, but to ensure that women and young children … are able to fully participate in the life of the city and the economy of the city.”
A female-friendly city is one where women’s perspectives are central to the design process, and where women can safely access services such as healthcare, public transport, social services, and education with the same ease and opportunity as men.
Turnbull told Fairfax how it was a mission to transport her now 33-year-old son, Alex, around the city of Sydney in a pram when he was a baby. “Sometimes you see extremely glamorous designer pavements that are completely impassable,” she said.
As she says the key issue is actually about making cities that work for everyone not just one subset of the population. This is an issue I’ve had personal experience with in the form of a family member who has a physical disability meaning they are not very mobile. Cycling is another good example, I’ve seen it described that females and children are an indicator species when it comes to riding a bike. That’s because many (or parents in the case of children) tend to be much more risk adverse than someone like me and as such will only ride a bike if is absolutely safe to do so. That’s why one of the metrics in the Copenhagenize ranking for the worlds most bike friendly cities the gender split is included.
Another example we see a lot at the moment that impacts a lot of people such as mothers with prams, children or those with disabilities is the issue of parking on kerbs. For example how would a person in a wheelchair or a mother with a pram deal with the situation below
To me when a wider cross section of society are able to be involved in what’s happening the city as a whole works and feels better.
I didn’t manage to get a “development update” post out last month, but I’ve now finished doing a pretty major update to the RCG Development Tracker page. Among other things, there’s been a new tranche of Special Housing Areas, a bit more info on things happening around Westgate, and I’ve updated a lot of apartment projects around the city (which ones have begun construction, expected completion dates, etc). Plus there’s been the usual array of new projects being announced.
The Tracker does actually cover the whole country, but taking a “Greater Auckland” perspective, there are currently 4,605 apartments or terraces under construction, with another 1,541 completed since 2012, and 2,694 currently selling off the plans but not yet being built.
On the Special Housing Areas front, since I don’t think we’ve mentioned it before, the council will now be focusing on getting brownfields SHAs approved in the remaining 13 months of the Housing Accord. In the first two years of the Accord, there’s been a massive amount of greenfields (i.e. urban fringe/ sprawl) land granted SHA status, which we’ve been quite critical of. It’s good to see that the focus, and hopefully the resources, will now be shifted to making development easier within the existing city. That’s the goal of the Auckland Plan, after all.
Also in positive SHA news, a recent Herald article announced who the developers would be at two Special Housing Areas which had already been announced. Ockham Residential will be developing the site at Avondale Racecourse, and Avanda Ltd will be tackling a large site on the edge of the New Lynn town centre, including the Monier brickworks factory.
In both cases, it now seems that the sites are going to get more homes built than previously thought. For Avondale, Ockham are planning 52 dwellings, up from the “at least 15” mentioned when the site was initially identified as an SHA. For New Lynn, the master plan aims to create 1,800 homes, up from 600.
July was a good month for consents, with growth across the board. The problem with looking at “moving annual” figures, which is what I usually focus on, is that each month you’re only changing one figure out of twelve – so changes in the trend can take a while to show up. That said, it seems like Auckland is starting to build more homes of all kinds – consent numbers are up for detached houses, apartments and other housing types.
In the last year (the year to July, at least, which is the latest data available), there were 8,567 dwellings consented in Auckland.
We’re still not building enough homes, though. With three people per household in Auckland, we’re building enough homes for 25,000 people a year – but our population is growing by at least 40,000 people a year. This is not something that can be solved overnight, and we need to keep growing supply to provide adequate housing for the city.
Christchurch, in Cashel St I Wait
We haven’t talked much about Christchurch recently, but it’s an important part of this fair nation and we should all be keeping an eye on what’s happening there. Four and a half years on from the February 2011 earthquake, the Christchurch rebuild still has many years to run. The video below, posted by Cera last month, shows progress on some sites (including some of the government’s “anchor projects”) while much of the CBD is still vacant.
This video shows the progress at various anchor project sites such as the Innovation and Retail Precincts as at the end of July. There is significant development happening on the Avon River Precinct, the Innovation Precinct, and the Retail Precinct with several more anchor projects moving along. This footage also shows the huge changes on the Margaret Mahy Family Playground site, which is well under construction now and will be opening in December.
The “Retail Precinct” is actually a major office precinct as well, and is made up of several large developments by the private landowners. That includes Antony Gough’s The Terrace, which began construction in 2013 – the first of the big projects to do so – but then stalled until July this year. It’s now back in action. In the mean time, some other big projects nearby – the BNZ Centre, aka Cashel Square, and the ANZ Centre – are also under construction.
Then there’s the Bus Interchange which opened a few months ago, the Justice Precinct which is well underway, and a range of other things which you can explore in the Development Tracker map (or Cera’s Progress Map). However, there are still many sites which don’t seem to be making progress, and developments which were announced to great fanfare but have now stalled – this includes a Cathedral Square site which was to have been known as ASB House, but ASB has now pulled out.
The city continues to evolve and grow, and it’s good news to see things moving forward in the private-led Retail Precinct and the public sector ‘anchor projects’. On the other hand, it’s tough to look at the Cathedral Square area, and the Cathedral itself which you can see right into via a missing wall, and not be able to find many visible signs of rebuilding. As for the Cathedral, church leaders and the government have agreed to appoint a consultant who will review the situation, and a final decision on its future could be made by the end of the year.
Transforming an entire city centre is no quick and easy task. In 2012 the council adopted the fantastic City Centre Master Plan (CCMP) which laid out the vision for Auckland’s city centre over a 30 year period and identified a huge number of potential projects. The Council’s City Centre Integration Team (CCIG) which is made up of staff from across the wider council family have been tasked with turning that vision in to a reality. As such they are creating frameworks for a number of areas within the city centre which are intended to bridge the gap between the strategies and reality. Almost exactly a year ago we saw the first of these frameworks – The Downtown Framework – emerged looking at the area north of Customs St. Now it’s the turn for the core of the city centre – Aotea.
The area surrounding Aotea Square is home to some of Auckland’s most prominent art, civic and cultural and entertainment buildings – many of which have played a big role in the cities heritage. The map below highlights some of these
The core of the plan seems to focus on the area within the solid red line on the map above the wider framework area looking at how the Aotea Precinct interfaces with the other frameworks that will be developed over time.
One of the big drivers for change over the coming decades will be the huge level of public transport investment that will be going in which will make it easier for significantly more people get to or pass through the area as part of their journey. The key PT projects are highlighted below and Aotea will be one of the best connected locations in Auckland.
In addition to the big transport investments is a recognition of the need to improve walking and cycling connections. Just where those will be are better shown on some of the detail below.
Within the area four general areas have been identified as having development opportunities and all around the edge of the precinct with Mayoral Dr and Albert St. They are shown below
Site A: Aotea Station/West Bledisloe
Once the CRL has been finished this is likely to be one of the hottest pieces of land in Auckland. Currently it’s a carpark for which the entrance combined with the entrance to the Civic Carpark it totals up six lanes of driveway that pedestrians need to cross. As the document correctly says “this prominent site fails to contribute to the public realm quality of the area or the growth node ambitions”.
The framework is proposing two new buildings plus the CRL entrance could go on the site with new lanes between the buildings and alongside the western edge of the Bledisloe building. The document says developing the site could provide up to 28,000m² of lettable space.
Site B: Aotea Centre
This site has already been in the news this week as one of the Council’s CCO’s want to re-clad the building in bronze coloured stainless steel. In addition there is talk of expanding the building itself to provide more studio space and practice rooms. The aspect most interesting to me is the creation of a new pedestrian link direct from the Cook St/Mayoral Dr intersection through the centre and into Aotea Square.
Site C: Civic Administration Building and Surrounds
The Civic building was originally meant to have additional wings on its western and eastern sides but they were never built. That has left a lot of space surrounding the Civic building with potential for development.
Site D: South Town Hall
Ever since Mayoral Dr was ploughed through the area in the 70’s this area has been a carpark. The desire is to better improve connections between Aotea Square and Myers Park so it is proposed to build a courtyard along with a 5-8 storey building. The courtyard will tie in with plans to improve the Mayoral Dr underpass which are expected to be completed mid to late next year. With the courtyard there would be a series of linked public spaces all the way from K Rd though to Victoria St. The council also own the site up to the corner of Mayoral Dr and Queen. They suggest either another building could go there or something else like Spanish-style steps up to Queen St.
The map below shows the potential development of the area along with some of the new pedestrian/cycle links that have been proposed. Through all of them you can see there is a desire to finally start activating the edge of Mayoral Dr, something that’s long overdue and likely to help in over time making Mayoral Dr less of the mini expressway it acts like.
Consultation on the draft framework is open till 22 October.
Auckland Star April 1973. Back in the Dark Ages it was considered appropriate to near kill the patient in order to help them. In the 1970s Central government transport planners nearly succeeded in killing the Auckland City Centre through the subtle act of flattening its densest and most proximate dormitory suburbs, then cutting it off any still standing from the city, and turning city streets into motorway off ramps. The charm and glory of these multi-year campaigns are still with us today on the beautiful avenues of Hobson and Nelson Sts, the terrible road pattern and wasted landuse of Union and Cook St, and the blighted devalued areas of K Rd and Newton. And of course the violated and severing gullies themselves. The scale of this ‘surgery’ can be seen in this spread.
The accompanying text is fairly flat and informational.
It seems the desire for a Tabula Rasa, a blank slate, like those postwar planners had in Europe, was so great that we made our own ‘bombsite’.
Happily now we live in more enlightened times and the next city surgery of scale will be much more sophisticated, the City Rail link which as an incision compared to this earlier work is laparoscopic; minimal invasive surgery. No need to maim the patient. Once done no one will even see it, except for that high value resource of people flooding on to city streets not in a car looking for a parking space. And will supply at least as much capacity as the three motorways that meet at this point do today*. So the CRL will double the accessibility to the nation’s most concentrated, biggest, and highest value employment centre, and fastest growing residential area, seamlessly. After the recovery from a few precise cuts, that is.
*Show your work, as Peter always says:
CRL 24 trains per hour each way 750 per train [not crush load; that’s 1000] ~ 36k [crush 48k]
M’ways 12 lanes @2160 [1800 vehicles @1.2 occupants] per lane hour ~ 26k
Of course the buses on the Bridge land some 9000 souls currently too.
Tomorrow is the next Auckland Transport board meeting and as usual I’ve been through the board papers to pick out the parts that were interesting to me.
The most interesting details appear to be in the closed session and that appears no different this month. Some of the topics are:
- Newmarket Level Crossing Project – I assume this will be seeking approval to lodge the Notice of Requirement
- LRT Alignment
- Deep Dive – Bus
- K’Road Value Engineering Outcomes – My guess is this is about the K Rd station for the CRL. AT’s project page now says they’re now only going to build one entrance initially and I’ve heard some rumours that it’s the Beresford Square entrance that will not be built. It seems to me this is incredibly short sighted and a classic case of ‘value engineering‘ engineering all of the value out of the project.
- CRL Communication Strategies update – This is likely to be about communication to manage the disruption caused by the CRL construction.
- Britomart Development update – presumably the bid by Cooper & Co to develop the site behind Britomart
On to the main business report.
- Te Atatu Rd – Construction has now begun and will is due to be completed in February 2017
- K Rd Cycleway – AT say ‘ concept design for stakeholder input is planned for the end of 2015.’ I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with.
- Nelson St Cycleway – According to the report consultation is due to start any day now on phase 2 which for Pitt St and north of Victoria St. The main issues is whether it uses Nelson St or Hobson St to get to Fanshawe St and down to Quay St. I personally think they should do both options.
- Beach Rd Cycleway Stage 2 – Construction is due to be completed by the end of this month with a public opening ceremony for 18 September.
- Otahuhu Bus-Train Interchange – Construction is due to start in mid-September and due to be completed in June next year before the rollout of the new bus network in October.
- Manukau Bus-Train Interchange – AT are increasing the capacity of the interchange from 16 to 25 bays although two will be for bus layover. They say the key reason for the change is that the various inter-city bus operators will move from the CBD operate from there. Presumably this means that inter-city bus users going to/from the CBD will have to transfer to a train at Manukau. Particularly at peak times this might actually end up a faster outcome.
- Parnell Station – Works on the platform are due to be completed in October but there is no date yet for when it will come in to use. Also of note is the old Mainline steam sheds are currently being demolished as the site was recently sold to a retirement village company. There’s a bit of an irony in that we will end up with a retirement village on one side of the tracks and Student accommodation on the other.
- AMETI (Reeves Rd Flyover) – AT say a joint review between them, the council and the NZTA of the timing of Flyover and the busway from Pakuranga to Botany has been happening with final discussions around funding options due to happen in August/September. The recommendations from the review will go to the AT and NZTA boards in October and the Council Infrastructure committee in November. I wonder how much they’ve taken in to account the Basin Reserve Flyover decision, in particular as they’ve said the Reeves Rd Flyover won’t improve things unless they also replicate similar solutions at Waipuna Rd and Carbine Rd.
- Mill Rd – The hearings for the Notice of Requirement start at the end of the month. They say there were 286 submissions of which 216 were pro-forma ones in opposition.
- WiFi on PT – AT will extend WiFi to all PT modes and vehicles – we saw WiFi as a requirement for new buses last week. AT are already trialling it on trains and it was available on the special service they put on for the EMU celebration just over a week ago. A trial will also begin on Gulf Harbour ferries and the Northern Express soon.
- Active Modes Survey – AT say they’ve surveyed 1,600 Aucklander’s about walking and cycling along with their motivations and barriers for doing so. The high level results are completely unsurprising with concerns over safety from sharing lanes with cars continuing to be the largest barrier to more people cycling.
- Rail Service Performance – there is a fairly lengthy comment about the performance of the rail system.
Service delivery (or reliability) is the proportion of trains not cancelled in full or part and arrive at their final destination. Punctuality is the proportion of trains that were not cancelled in full or part and that arrived at their final destination within five minutes of the scheduled time. Presented below are the services scheduled (blue bars), total services operated on-time (yellow line) and punctuality percentage (red line) trends.
There was a significant improvement in performance recorded during the month, partly reflecting the changes implemented from 20 July which saw the replacement of diesel trains with EMUs on all lines except on the non-electrified section between Papakura and Pukekohe. The operation of a single common fleet type removed many of the restrictions that previously existed that had complicated service recovery by allowing trains and crews to be swapped between lines thereby limiting the adverse impacts following service disruption.
For Jul-2015 service delivery (reliability) was 96.6% and punctuality was 83.7% compared to the 12 month average of 96.0% (94.9% last 6 months average and low of of 92.9% in April) and 83.1% (79.2% last 6 months average and low of 73.6% in June).
For the period 1-9 August, performance improved further with reliability at 98% and punctuality at 89% across 3,766 services.
A number of days in mid-August have seen performance at more than 99% service delivery and 90-95% punctuality.
While only a few weeks into the full EMU operations, service performance improvement is encouraging and supports the decision to introduce earlier the full EMU services. A joint team of AT, Transdev, KiwiRail and CAF are now focused on delivering the planned improvements
- Some other PT comments:
- The first Howick & Eastern double decker arrives in the first week of September.
- The first of the new bus shelters have started has been installed. It appears that the focus is on getting a number rolled out on the Hibiscus coast in preparation of the new network which rolls out in October
- AT have asked Transdev and Kiwirail to review the timetables for the Pukekohe shuttle after complains the transfer time between services was too short.
- On the roll-out of more bus priority they say that over the last month:
- Onewa Road T3 lane (city bound) – went live in July
- Park Road bus lane (hospital to Carlton Gore Road) – consultation completed; construction due to commence in September
- Parnell Road bus lane (St Stephens to Sarawia Street – outbound) – consultation completed; construction due for completion in August
- Manukau Road/Pah Road transit lanes – internal consultation completed – consultation underway
- Great North Road bus lanes (New Lynn to Ash Street) – final concept plans completed – consultation completed
- Totara Avenue signal removal – improvements to New Lynn bus interchange; construction completed and live
- Esmonde Road bus lane – construction to commence September.
Back in May Auckland Transport launched a short consultation to update their Regional Public Transport Plan (RPTP) on four specific areas to reflect the work and thinking they’ve undertaken since the RPTP was released in 2013. The consultation was limited to four areas:
- The proposed introduction of simplified zone fares
- Proposals for a new light rail transit (LRT) network on some major arterial routes
- Service and infrastructure changes arising from the Ferry Development Plan which was approved by the AT Board in December 2014
- Revised service descriptions arising from community consultation on the new bus network
AT haven’t formally announced the outcomes of that consultation however a paper on them went to the confidential session of the AT board and that has quietly been released publicly. In total they say 1,251 submissions were received however over 1,000 of those were about SuperGold concessions. Below are the main issues and some of the key recommendations staff have made.
Simplified zone fares
AT say there were 107 submissions referring to the simplified zone fares and that people were mostly supportive of the proposal. There was some concern about specific aspects though such the exact boundaries and what happens for short trips that cross them. One example they give is Orakei where some people want it in the city zone. In addition people wanted a number of other areas considered including
- integrating ferries into the zone system
- the time available for transfers along with the number of transfers allowed.
- improved education and work to get HOP n the hands of more people,
- fare caps
In response AT have made minor changes to the document or are undertaking more research. They note that it is desirable to have ferries also integrated but that they are limited in their ability to do so due to the current exempt services that are enshrined in legislation. In the case of fare caps AT say they will look at them once the new zonal system has settled in.
There were 97 submissions about light rail and AT say the majority were positive however five key groups have said there isn’t enough information yet for AT to be including it now. Of these the big and most interesting one is the NZTA who I would have thought AT would have been talking to about it much more. Others with a similar view were AA, NZCID, Bus & Coach Association and the Mangere-Otahuhu local board.
One aspect I predicted would happen with Light Rail has come through with a number of submitters and local boards now also wanting Light Rail in their areas. This includes
- replacement for the Inner Link bus route
- connections to the North Shore
- along the North-western Motorway
- Tamaki Drive
- Pakuranga Highway to Howick
The main recommendation is to start releasing more intimation about the project.
Ferry development plan
AT say that overall the majority of people supported their ferry development plan although some people were also calling for new services. Other than a few wording changes, it doesn’t appear this will change much which seems reasonable.
New Network service descriptions
Most of the feedback related to the new network was actually about issues such as the SuperGold card concessions for which AT say they will improve the wording to make it clearer nothing is changing.
For the actual topic of the new network service descriptions it was raised that there is no set span of times services will run from/to. In response AT say they will add a policy looking at the issue of span of services and in the next version of the RPTP look at developing that in more detail. The policy the hearings panel recommended be included now is below.
News emerged during the week about the future of Chamberlain Park Golf Course – the council owned golf course just 4km from the city centre. The local board want to open it up to more uses than just golf to improve facilities for locals.
Albert-Eden Local Board has decided to develop a plan which could reduce the size of the golf course at Chamberlain Park in order to create sports fields, restore a stream and put in public walkways.
Tonight board chairman Peter Haynes denied its chosen basis for developing a masterplan was a “carve up” of the 32ha council-owned public golf course.
“You could say, local board future-proofs open space and recreational opportunities in the local area,” said Mr Haynes.
“What we also did tonight was to approve the starting of a process to work on the western part of the park – naturalising the stream, putting in walkways and cycleways, barbecue areas and playgrounds for the local people.
“As well creating a wonderful park, it’s possible that a superior nine hole course, with a driving range and learn-to- play facilities will be better for the future of golf.”
However, Chamberlain Park Golf Club committee member Richard Quince said the park was a regional asset not a local asset.
“It is one of only two public courses serving Aucklanders and as such attracts more than 50,000 rounds of golf a year – making it one of the busiest courses in the country.”
Mr Quince said a nine-hole course would not attract the same patronage as an 18-hole course.
To me 50,000 rounds might be a lot for a golf course but represents incredibly low use of such a massive publicly owned resource in this location. It represents a massive public subsidy to a small minority who play golf. As such looking at how the council can get better use out of it seems like exactly the right thing to be doing – regardless of what a few golfers think.
The local board say the background to all of this is
- At its July 2014 meeting, the Albert-Eden Local Board approved the development of an initial concept plan for Chamberlain Park. This was in response to a range of issues, including:
- low utilisation rates of, and increasing operational costs for, the Chamberlain Park Golf Course
- low open space provision in the Albert-Eden Local Board area and limited opportunities to acquire new open space
- growing pressure on sports field capacity across the local board and surrounding catchment areas, with current deficit of sports fields for training purposes.
- These issues, alongside projected population growth, provided the case for change. Accordingly, the local board briefed staff to consider redevelopment options for Chamberlain Park.
After some initial feedback from the community about what what they wanted – which they say included a high level of support for a change four master plan scenario’s were developed which were then consulted on. All had in common a few elements
- restoration of Meola Creek/Waititiko
- a pedestrian and cycle path through the eastern edge of the site, providing access from the North Western Cycleway and St. Lukes Road
- development of a Chinese garden/cultural centre.
The four scenario’s were
- Scenario One provides primarily for golf, with a reconfigured 18-hole golf course
- Scenario Two provides for a smaller redesigned 18-hole golf course, a driving range and a practice area
- Scenario Three includes a smaller redesigned 18-hole golf course and an area which provides for three multi use sports fields and car parking
- Scenario Four includes a nine-hole golf course, driving range and/or practice area. The area on the eastern end of the park provides for two multi use sports fields, an aquatic centre and car parking.
The highest number voted for option 4 – although clearly not a majority.
In addition the local board say
The proposed driving range would provide revenue to offset the operational costs of the golf course. The course layout of nine holes over 23.4 hectares, with a total par of 35, and a moderate to high level of difficulty, should appeal to the existing user base. The increased golf service offering is expected to attract new golfers to Chamberlain Park Golf Course leading to a marked increase in utilisation.
I know personally I would be fare more likely to visit to use the driving range than play a round of golf, in fact combined with access via the cycleway it could be a great combination for many – cruise along the cycleway on your bike and hit a few balls.
A draft of the proposed masterplan is included in low resolution in the local board agenda for the meeting from page 39. Because of that low resolution it’s hard tell what’s in the text however you can get an idea for the proposed layout’s of the scenario’s listed above. Below is scenario 4
Local councillor Christine Fletcher isn’t too happy with the local board though saying they’ve jumped “jumped the gun” on work the council is doing including looking at all 14 golf courses the council own. I hope that review also includes looking at options not just for public space and sports fields but also potential development options. For example the Takapuna Golf Course is just across the motorway from the Smales Farm busway station, perhaps some part of that could be used for housing or other activities.
Auckland needs to be able to accommodate up to 1 million more people over the next 30 years, that’s a lot of growth and means the city needs around 400,000 more dwellings. The Auckland Plan set the high level strategy of having up to 70% of that growth occur within the existing urban area while up to 40% would be outside that. The Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (PAUP) identified large swathes of land outside the existing urban boundaries for future urban land – some of which is already being developed as Special Housing Areas.
The council is now consulting on a Draft Future Urban Land Supply Strategy which will show how that release of land will actually occur over a 30 year period including specifying where and when bulk infrastructure will be built. They say specifically it will
- help to inform Auckland Council infrastructure asset planning and management and its infrastructure funding priorities and sequencing. It will feed directly into the Council’s future Long-term Plans and the Annual Plans
- help to inform central government, such as the Ministry of Education, with medium to long-terms projections, location and investment decisions
- help to inform private sector infrastructure providers with forward planning and investment decisions
Overall this seems like a good idea, concentrating development in areas where it is able to be accommodated rather than developing land completely ad-hoc which could create funding issues for the council and other infrastructure providers. As the document points out, a consequences of ad-hoc development could be that it sucks up enough resources that it affects the ability to improve the rest of the region. What is most interesting about the strategy is this comment:
The analysis done for this Strategy is of sufficient scale and specificity to broadly determine bulk infrastructure requirements.
In other words this is more than just drawing some lines on a map and pulling out the colouring in pencils. The council have actually put work into determining just what bulk infrastructure will be needed to enable the predicted future growth and the result is actually quite scary and raises the question of just how affordable any new dwellings will be – more on this soon. It’s also important to remember that the bulk infrastructure talked about is really just the core of the networks provided by the council and other agencies. In addition to it developers would need to add all of the local infrastructure such as the local street and water networks.
The PAUP identified six large general areas and a few small standalone areas where future urban growth would occur. This covers about 11,000 hectares which they say could accommodate around 110,000 dwellings. The six main areas are:
- Silverdale, Wainui East, Dairy Flat
- Kumeu, Huapai, Riverhead
- Whenuapai, Redhills
- Takanini, Opaheke, Drury, Karaka
- Pukekohe, Pareta,
The strategy splits up the areas into five year intervals based on a suite of principles. The map below shows these areas along with the key bulk infrastructure they need.
As mentioned above, the part of the strategy that is most interesting is the high level costs to provide the bulk infrastructure which is done to a decade level. The table below shows this along with how many dwellings each time interval delivers. In total the council have estimated that around $13.7 billion of bulk infrastructure is needed over the 30 year period, this is made up of
- Transport – $6,700 million
- Water -$2,250 million
- Wastewater – $2,200 million
- Other – $2,500 million
These cost are further broken down by decade along with the number dwellings expected in the table below.
Breaking that down we have
- 1st Decade – $111k to $140k per dwelling
- 2nd Decade – $179k to $234k per dwelling
- 3rd decade – $93k to $120k per dwelling
Those seem like some crazy high costs, especially if you consider them on a per house basis. Next imagine what the land prices for these new sections would have to be to cover the costs if the council were able to pass the full costs. Combine that with the costs to the developer of providing the local infrastructure and these areas are not going to be cheap, losing one of the supposed advantages of greenfield developments. The reality is only some of these costs are likely to be passed on meaning that existing ratepayers will effectively be subsidising this greenfield growth.
This outcome actually that much of a surprise, research as part of the Auckland Plan looked at potential growth scenarios and found sprawly land use patterns were the most expensive outcomes for the council due to the need to provide so much new infrastructure.
Of course none of this to say that intensification isn’t without its costs however many often those costs are ones which would still be needed for the sprawl development too.
Consultation on the draft strategy closes on 17 August.
A new report comparing Auckland with 30 other international cities by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) paints a grim picture in many of the categories we talk about. Titled “A City of Opportunity”, the report released last year compared 30 cities from around the world. Following the 2012 version of the report a separate study was done to see how Auckland compared and the same thing has happened again with the 2014 version. This gives Auckland a useful tool for comparison. The results were given at an Auckland Conversations event last week and you can watch the presentation here while the presentation itself is here.
While many of the other reports that rank cities do so as a metric for assessing what to pay staff posted overseas, the PWC report appears more focused on the economic opportunity from cities working together. However like other reports, it is based on how a city scores across a number of criteria. In this case there are 59 variables spread across 10 categories which themselves combined into three high level groups with the report taking both a quantitative and qualitative look at city life. One of the things they mention is that while not all variables are under a cities direct control e.g. education, that it doesn’t mean a local council should just ignore the impact they have and should be active in trying to get the government to continue to improve the system. The groups, categories and variables are
The 30 comparator cities are shown below and were picked so there was a mix of cities from all regions of the world and with different attributes. The map below shows the cities along with their overall ranking (the higher the number the better).
One of the interesting outcomes that was noted was when the result of the rankings was compared with GDP data. As you can see there is a correlation between cities that score well and those that perform better economically. It was also mentioned that in some cases – such as a study of 15 Swedish cities using the same methodology – this relationship is even stronger.
Moving on to Auckland, the results below show how the city compared against the 30 other cities in 2012. As you can see we were doing ok in some areas but others we really lagged behind. It is noted that our main weaknesses are:
- Transport and Infrastructure
- Economic Clout
- City Gateway
Some metrics aren’t expected to have changed much so not all measures have (yet?) been reviewed in 2015 but the results of four were given.
- Technology Readiness
- Transportation and Infrastructure
- Economic clout
- Demographics and livability
Here are some the comparisons for these areas. It’s important to remember that the rankings below are how Auckland compares to the other cites, not the scores that it achieved for each segment. PWC say Auckland has been improving but the issue is that in some cases other cities are improving at a faster rate meaning we’re falling down the rankings.
In technology and readiness the governments fibre roll-out initiative is paying off and Auckland is improving and so to is it’s ranking in Software development and multi-media design however other metrics are falling. In the case of Internet access in schools PWC said it wasn’t just about having access to the Internet but also how schools are adapting to it and making the most use of technology.
For Demographics & livability Auckland continues to do well for quality of living but slips down the rankings on the other metrics. Of interest, we’re still ranked fairly well for traffic congestion as while many locals think things are bad, congestion is considered nowhere near as bad as many other cities. One aspect in the discussion on traffic congestion that I found interesting was that the example of prioritising walking and cycling in Amsterdam was highlighted. It was said how contrary to what many people and car drivers assumed, walkers and cyclists spent more in city shops than those who drove did and on that basis it was better for the economy to remove the cars.
The very low score for demographics relates to the large ageing population we have which presents both an opportunity (if people work longer) as well as a challenge for the future once they start leaving the workforce.
The transport and infrastructure results are particularly interesting and concerning. As you can see Auckland ranks very poorly for its public transport system, especially the coverage and cost of it. This is something that electrification, the new bus network and integrated fares help improve but even with those it’s likely we’ll still be very far down the list. The housing result will probably raise a few eyebrows however it was described as being not just a cost to buy measure but also how easy/hard it is to get into a house (regardless of whether you’re buying it).
And lastly economic clout where we’re doing well in some areas but very poorly in others. This is in part because other cities have been much more affected by the economic conditions in recent years than Auckland/NZ has. The question is if Auckland can sustain the rate of growth it’s been achieving in the last few years because if it can’t, it would likely fall down the rankings.
These are summed up to the following strengths and weaknesses.
All up Auckland remains a city with a huge amount of potential, especially thanks to the natural environment we have and it’s clear we’ve been doing some things right. It’s also said that some of the plans we have are good too but one major issue is making sure we get the execution right.