At the 2014 Election Transport Debate organised by the Campaign for Better Transport I was charged with summarising our Congestion Free Network as an introduction to the candidate’s speeches. Here is that short speech:
What is the CFN?
The CFN is a deeply considered answer to the question of how Auckland, our only city of scale, can best compete at all levels this century.
It is a world class Rapid Transit Network to go with our world class Highway Network.
1. It is designed for maximum economic efficiency; evaluating capital costs, operating costs, and long term value. It is a fully integrated top tier network; using busways where they are best option and extending the existing rail network where that adds more value, and ferries where they offer their particular advantage.
2. It builds on what we already have; it extends and complements our existing systems. It is the key to getting the highest value from earlier investments, especially our widespread road and highway networks. And it unlocks hidden capacity in the existing legacy rail network, and enhances its operational efficiency. It is about working our physical infrastructure harder and smarter as the city grows.
3. It facilitates better quality of urban form and supports higher quality of life and therefore the international competitiveness of the city, the nation’s gateway. It also complements the growth in Active travel; cycling and walking.
4. It greatly strengthens the city’s resilience through diversifying movement options in ways that are consistent with changes in technology and social trends and helps protect the city’s functionality against shocks in price or supply of imported fuels.
5. It greatly enhances freedom and choice for businesses, residents, and visitors alike. It supports the entire city, not just inner areas, including future growth areas on the urban fringe. It will make the choice to not partake in congestion in Auckland a truly viable one for more people, at more times, and for more trips.
It essentially is the answer to the question of what is needed next?
And it is not just a ‘nice to have’ but rather a carefully costed and highest value complement to the last sixty years of investment in motorways. It will unlock the motorway system for higher value users, in particular freeing it up for its vital role in the freight supply chain. In short to gain the next level of value from the urban state highways we need to invest away from them to keep them flowing efficiently. It also is what is needed to gain the agglomeration economies that flow from city shaped development.
And wonderfully It does not require anything other than a reprioritising of projects already identified for Auckland, and is achievable well within existing budgets. It takes no money away from other parts of the country’s transport share nor is it dependent on novel sources of revenue. It does however require an understanding that Auckland is at a new stage of development. One that requires more than just the single mode of movement and therefore while maintaining the existing road systems, investment in new infrastructure must be strongly directed to completing and optimising the missing modes. And this programme shows just how within reach this is.
In short it’s genius.
But because of how we control our transport spending it does need government to be willing to partner the city in investing differently than we have been. Nothing short of the success of our biggest city and the level of its contribution to the whole nation is at stake.
Starting with where Auckland’s nascent Rapid Transit network will be once the current upgrade of the legacy rail network is complete, the following maps show, in broad terms, how we can efficiently leverage off this resource to build a world quality and right sized extremely efficient Rapid Transit Network for Auckland over 15 years. Please note this only shows the top tier, separate right of way and high frequency Rapid Network. It is supported by and integrated with the New Bus Network, and other services. And of course it is designed to complement and operate separately from our widespread driving systems. Freeing them up for more efficient use.
For more detail on each route see under Our Proposals above.
17: A Greater Auckland?
What if we felt like we lived in an Auckland that was greater than the sum of its parts?
This is perhaps one of the reoccurring themes in my 100 days project. It reflects the public discussion and debate happening in Auckland around our future growth challenge, and how best we should invest public money in supporting that growth and our existing communities.
The parochialism of old Auckland was notorious. It was one contributing reason for the governance reforms and creation of the one council.
Only being concerned with one’s own lot in life is not a great basis upon which to debate the future of a city. Neither is only being interested in one’s own patch of the city to the extent of actively fighting against investment or even just change in other parts of the city. These aspects of Auckland seem to relate to a deeper issue around the way this city has grown and developed over time.
It says a lot about the urban geography of Auckland; how the way we have shaped the city then shapes how we feel about each other and the city in which we all live. How do we view a sense of a community? Do we relate to any sense of a greater Auckland, or not? Is there any sense of an Auckland that is greater than the sum of its parts? And what might this all mean for our future?
Arguably one of the best things that has happened through the creation of the one council has been a growing sense of one Auckland While we won’t always and shouldn’t always speak with one voice, a common understanding that we are generally better off together than apart seems a good basis to understanding of why we are all here together living in and around this beautiful Tamaki Makaurau.
Events and public festivals and celebrations that attract big crowds from right across Auckland are one of the few occasions where we all have the opportunity to come together and have a sense of being a part of and connected the other 1.5 million odd residents in this increasingly diverse city.
This morning the mayor released his proposal for the Long Term Plan, which outlines the 10 year budget for the city. This is the first stage in a 9 month process.
Long-term Plan timeline
- August 2014 – Mayor’s LTP proposal
- December 2014 – Auckland Council adopts draft LTP
- January and February 2015 – Public consultation on the draft LTP
- April 2015 – Public hearings
- June 2015 – Local boards adopt local board agreements and governing body adopts final LTP.
The proposal is available on the council website here. The proposal does not have a huge amount of detail, and more based around funding outlines with some major projects mentioned. Today I will just do a quick outline of the document, and we will follow up with more analysis tomorrow.
Rates increases are 2.5% for the first two years, and 3.5% after that.
Here is what the document has to say about transport. Note that capital expenditure of $469 million, compared with $826 million in the 2014/15 Annual Plan. However this is going to be cut back by $150 million as we noted yesterday. This seems to be a mixed bag. Great to see City Rail Link still included. On the positive side good to see Penlink, other arterial roads and most of the oversized Park and Ride strategy cut back. However difficult to see how Lincoln Road is such a priority for upgrading, it is hardly lacking traffic lanes at the moment! Disappointing to see the North-Western busway pushed back even outside the 10 year timeframe. I’m sure this can be staged appropriately so we can see some good progress over the next few years.
Transport represents the most significant proportion of our total budget – almost a third of our operating costs and over 40% of our capital budgets. The funding envelope in the baseline budget is a significant reduction in the capital programme in the current LTP and has an even more significant shortfall on the aspirations reflected in the Auckland Plan.
This baseline proposal includes major projects such as:
- The City Rail Link
- North Western Growth Area projects
- Warkworth SH1 intersection improvements
- The East – West connections
- Lincoln, Te Atatu and Dominion Rd upgrades.
The full detail of the list will be the subject of discussion between Auckland Transport and ourselves over the next couple of months as part of fleshing out the draft LTP for consultation. The basis of that discussion will be the criteria by which we rank projects and getting a shared level of comfort with that process. Naturally I would want to see our strategic shifts towards public transport active modes strongly reflected in those criteria. However, the basic transport option is not what I believe Auckland wants or needs. It is an investment programme that will not solve our existing transport problems and in fact will see them get worse. Under current funding arrangements what we can afford involves foregoing a significant amount of transport investment that Aucklanders have told us they wanted through the Auckland Plan. We wouldn’t be able to deliver a range of projects including:
- A majority of local and arterial roading projects across the region
- Almost all of the park and ride projects currently programmed
- The North-Western busway
- Strategic projects such as Penlink and rail electrification to Pukekohe. I beleive Aucklanders want all of these projects and have an expectation that the entire transport programme contained in the Auckland Plan be delivered in the 30 year timeframe.
The plan also outlines a number of projects that will proceed as are needed to support growth including Special Housing Areas. That is something we have noted previously so is good to see this mentioned. Seems to be a little bit of a grab bag of projects though. Will need more than the Te Atatu busway station to support growth in the North-West, and not sure Drury station is a priority amid other capital cuts as will only be served hourly when Papakura station is so close and will have 10 to 15 minute frequencies.
Some examples of these projects are:
- Watercare’s central interceptor project
- Grade separation at Avondale
- Tamaki Drive shared walking and cycling path
- Work with mana whenua on redevelopment of Ruapotaka marae
- Otahuhu aquatic centre and library
- Improved public transport between Mangere/Otahuhu/Sylvia park
- New Takanini library
- Grade separation at Walters Road, Takanini
- Te Atatu bus interchange
- Westgate stormwater ponds
- Lake Road, Takapuna streetscape
- Train stations at Drury and Paerata
- Manukau transport interchange
- Ormiston library and community centre.
Grade separation at Walters Road has been the hold up for Addision/Glenora station so hopefully that should allow that station there to proceed.
Overall I think need to wait for more detail to see effect of transport projects, and it will be interesting to see if Auckland Transport prioritises public transport within this reduced spend or keeps building lots of lower value roading projects.
So what do you do when you’re told you have to cut some of your $826 million budget for capital projects and that in choosing what to cut it can’t apply to public transport projects?
Well it seems if you’re Auckland Transport you start by cutting PT and active mode projects.
Back in May when the council was discussing their budget for this year it was decided that Auckland Transport should reduce capital expenditure spend. At the time Chris Darby managed to get this amendment passed saying that the cuts won’t impact on PT.
MOVED by Cr C Darby, seconded by Cr PA Hulse:
Cr Darby moved by way of amendment, seconded Cr Hulse.
That the Budget Committee:
i) agree that the $5.1 million transport opex increase is dedicated to public transport and the $50 million reduction in transport capex will not be applied to public transport.
But it seems the $50 million isn’t enough if the council wants to keep to Len Brown’s goal of having rate rises next year average 2.5%.
- On 26 March, staff provided the results of financial modelling in response to the mayoral direction for the LTP 2015-2025. One conclusion from this analysis was that it is not possible to reduce the average rates increase for 2015/2016 down to 2.5 per cent solely by reducing or deferring capex in that particular year.
- The lagged impact of changes in the capital programme on operating budgets means that reducing or deferring capex in 2014/2015 will have a greater impact on rates for 2015/2016. The Budget Committee therefore agreed on 8 May 2014 to request the Chief Executive undertake an immediate review of 2014/2015 capex programme with a target of reducing or deferring $300 million of capex.
The cuts mean Auckland Transport has to find $100 million (which goes up to $150 million once NZTA subsidies are included). They don’t say all the items they’ll cut but the ones named are all PT projects.
The targeted reduction can be achieved via the reduction of budget across all transport activities. Projects such as Parnell Station, the Pukekohe Station upgrade and bus and transit lane improvements may have to be deferred to the LTP period. The Auckland Transport Board will consider the current capital programme to confirm which projects may be stopped, reduced or deferred to the LTP in order to minimise negative impacts on Auckland Plan outcomes. An updated 2014/2015 capital programme will be provided to the CCO Governance and Monitoring Committee in November.
It seems the only projects specifically named as being deferred are those that PT projects which goes against what the council asked for in the first place. Further projects like bus and transit lane improvements are often some of the cheapest and highest benefit projects. An example of this is the recent extension of the Fanshawe St bus lanes resulted in lots of full buses being sped up in the evening for what I understand was a fairly minor cost. In saying that I can live with the Silverdale Park and Ride (which is having issues of it’s own to sort out first) and can also live with Parnell to a degree.
Here’s the total list of capital projects in the current annual plan.
It seems to me there are a lot of other projects on the list that should be being cut before $2.5 million bus lane improvements, for example Lincoln Rd or Penlink.
For their part the council passed a (much weaker) resolution saying that AT should take into account the councils priorities around PT and active mode outcomes however based on past performance I wouldn’t hold up hope of AT actually listening to that.
This Thursday the mayor is releasing his first proposal for Auckland’s Long Term Plan, the 10 year budget for the city. Last week I blogged about the budgetary pressures the council is facing, and the risk of large cuts in public transport investment. However there is still potential for Auckland to progress the Congestion Free Network and important cycling investments in a rates constrained environment if we prioritise those projects and push back some of the very expensive roading projects with limited benefits like Penlink.
Generation Zero are running a mini campaign this week to encourage people send Len Brown a message that the budget needs to invest in public transport and cycling. Their email ask is at down below, and you can send an email to Len Brown using a simple online tool here: generationzero.org.nz/long_term_plan
Hey, all the work we’ve done together to push for separated bike lanes, the Congestion Free Network, and the frequent bus network all hinges on one big decision this Thursday.
Mayor Len Brown is right this moment making up his mind about what projects get prioritised in Auckland’s 10 year budget known as the Long Term Plan.
Tell him now to: make the CRL the number one priority; prioritise the city wide rapid transport network; triple the cycling budget; and not proceed with expensive projects with little regional benefit.
There’s real pressure on the Mayor to hold rate increases in his budget to between 2.5% to 3.5%. Transport infrastructure represents nearly 50% of the budget so this funding is the most at risk. This means as a city we need to make some serious decisions about what we prioritise to fund over the next 10 years.
The choice has been made simple for him by his advisors. He’s been advised that he can not deliver all the projects in the Auckland Plan, therefore he needs to find a middle ground.1
That middle ground is the Congestion Free Network.
The Mayor therefore needs to do four things with the Long Term Plan:
- Make funding for the City Rail Link his number one priority.
- Prioritise the construction of the city wide rapid transport network including new busways and rail links as seen in the Congestion Free Network.
- Ensure there is a tripling in the funding for cycling to $30 million a year so Auckland Transport can complete the City Cycling Network.
- Make sure only road projects with large regional benefits proceed by excluding expensive projects such as Penlink and Mill Road.
Click here to send a message to Mayor Len Brown right now urging him to follow our four recommendations.
The long term effects of a lack of investment would lead to ever increasing congestion and ineffective public transport, exacerbating the many problems our city already faces with transport.
Truly transforming our public transport network over the next 10 years means moving forward with the City Rail Link, North Western, Upper Harbour and South-Eastern Busways and Rail to Roskill, as proposed in the Congestion Free Network.
On the other hand low value roading projects like Penlink2 have nothing to do with an outstanding public transport network.
Excluding these low value roading projects and prioritising an outstanding public transport network would help us get the right outcomes.
The choice is simple. The Council has already put in writing that their objectives over the next 10 years are to move to outstanding public transport within one network, and to radically improve the quality of urban living.
If Auckland wants to truly transform itself into a liveable low-carbon city it needs to prioritise high value projects that deliver on the Council’s own objectives.
Send a message now to tell the council to deliver on it’s own objectives: generationzero.org.nz/long_term_plan
The future of our city is in our hands.
Yesterday I looked at the numbers behind council’s Long Term Plan, the first version of which is being worked on by the mayor for release next Thursday.
As well as the all the numbers regarding the potential funding gap, there were a number of fascinating slides about transport.
Firstly the background documents gave an overview of the key Auckland Plan transformational shifts. The Auckland Plan outlined 7 transformational shifts-
- Move to outstanding public transport within one network
- Radically improve the quality of urban living
- Significantly lift Maori social and economic well being
- Substantially raise living standards for all Aucklanders and focus on those most in need
- Dramatically accelerate the prospects of Auckland’s children and young people
- Strongly commit to environmental action and green growth
The documents show that the first two shifts, regarding public transport and urban living have been identified as the “key drivers of transformation”. Of course these are also the area the Auckland Council has the most control over.
The background information includes this slide describing what is planned over the next 10 years. Is nothing new but helpfully puts the key information in one place.
The most interesting information comes from the Auckland Transport presentation given to the workshop on July 7. This outlines for the first time 2 alternative transport networks that are being investigated.
The Auckland Plan Transport Network involves $16b of AT investment in new capital projects over 30 years – funded from Auckland Council, NZTA and Central Government. In addition, AT renewals are estimated at $10b over 30 years.
The Basic Transport Network involves $8b of AT investment in new capital projects over 30 years – funded from Auckland Council, NZTA and Central Government. In addition, AT renewals are estimated at $7.5b over 30 years.
We all know the Auckland Plan included a wishlist of pretty much every transport project that had been proposed in recent years. The existence of the “Basic Transport Network” seems to be new though, and this appears to be a severely stripped down version written to fit in with the proposed 2.5% rates rise. I assume these 2 networks have come about in the process of reviewing the rubbish Integrated Transport Program that came out in March last year.
The description of projects does seem to sound a lot like our Congestion Free Network, which was sent from the Council Transport Committee to AT for modelling as part of their ITP review in August last year. For example we see Mt Roksill Rail spur mentioned for the first time in official documents, as previous documents had referred to the full length Avondale to Onehunga/Southdown project. We also see North Western, South East busways and Upper Harbour busways mentioned.
Also on the positive side The City Rail Link will still proceed under any scenario, which suggests is still seen as the most important project which is of course correct.
It does seem to show though that a wide range of projects are cut under the basic network, which is a mixed blessing. On the negative side this would mean no rail network extensions to Roskill or the Airport, electrification to Pukekohe, no North Western busway and even no Parnell Station for which enabling works have already been done. This would also see the Regional Cycle Network to continue to proceed at a snails pace. Another interesting point is that reduction in road renewals would lead to higher maintenance costs.
However on the other hand, a large number of low value roading projects are also cut or delayed. This includes projects we have often noted are overblown in their current form such as Penlink and Mill Road as well as totally pointless upgrades like Great South and Great North Road. I have no idea what could be achieved by expensive upgrades of these roads as they are already 4 lane arterials parallel to motorways.
Figures are also shown that highlight what effect the Basic Transport Network would have on the transport budget over the next 4 years, and next year in particular.
The effects of sticking to this Basic Transport Network over the next few years would be unacceptable if we wanted to transform our public transport and cycling networks. The long term effects of a lack of investment would lead to ever increasing congestion and ineffective public transport, exacerbating the many problems our city already faces from transport. One example of the effect of these cuts would be on the new bus network. This is currently being rolled out and needs a substantial amount of supporting infrastructure to be successful. This includes suburban interchanges as well as the CBD interchanges and busways that we outlined last week. If funding is cut we will end up having to run inefficient and less frequent services, and passengers will not like to transfer is they are left on the side of the road with no shelter or security.
If the Auckland Plan goal of “Moving to outstanding public transport within one network” were followed then surely investments in quality public transport should be prioritised. Truly transforming our public transport network would mean that over the next 10 years we should move forward with the City Rail Link, North Western, Upper Harbour and South-Eastern Busways and Rail to Roskill, as proposed in the Congestion Free Network. Also at the end of the period we should be starting on airport rail, potentially staged such as first double tracking to Onehunga, and then building towards Mangere. Cycling is also a great way to improve the quality of urban living, so that should also be essential. On the other hand low value roading projects like Penlink have nothing to do with outstanding public transport, and are not in one of 10 priority areas that I outlined yesterday. They also have nothing to do with the quality of urban living given they are located on the fringe of the city. Some arterial roading projects could also undermine quality urban living by turning local streets into major highways, so we should be careful about which of these we fund.
It would be hard to believe that this level of funding cuts would be acceptable overall to the council. We have already seen suggestions that the 2.5% rates rise cap from the election campaign seems to have widened to become 2.5% to 3.5% which may allow a more acceptable range of projects to proceed. Even within this band the council will still have to prioritise projects to fit within a tighter budget. However the exclusion of low value roading projects and the prioritisation of an outstanding public transport network would help us get the right outcomes. Whatever happens we are in for a fascinating 6 months as the mayor and councillors find an acceptable way through, for the future of our city lets hope they do.
The council is required to revalue every property every three years and the valuations are used in the setting of rates the council charges. The last revaluation was in 2011 which means a new one is due this year. The council have announced some early results and they present an interesting picture and show why home owning affordability is such an issue. Across the whole region property values are up by an average of 33% which is a massive increase over just three years. Here’s the press release:
Auckland’s three-yearly general property revaluation is well underway, with indicative data showing significant value movements across the region.
A report is going to Thursday’s Finance and Performance Committee:
Auckland Council’s Registered Valuer Peter McKay says: “At this stage we are looking at an upward movement for the Auckland region of an average 33% since the last revaluation in 2011, which is broadly in line with expectations.
“Local board areas with the largest movements – of over 40% – are Kaipatiki, Maungakiekie-Tamaki, Puketapapa and Whau, reflecting a general value increase in the more central suburbs.”
“Average movements within the remaining local boards (excluding the Hauraki Gulf islands) range between 22% and 44%, with the larger movements generally due to proximity to central Auckland, with lower increases found in outer suburban and rural areas.”
“Local value movements will vary due to the type of property, its quality and condition, zoning, views and other factors.”
Property owners receive their notices in the mail in mid-November 2014.
“It’s very important to remember that Auckland’s property revaluation doesn’t determine the total amount of rates collected by the council – rather it helps determine each ratepayer’s share of rates.
“The revaluation exercise is used by the council to determine the allocation of rates, and doesn’t affect the overall amount of rates collection.
“Capital value, or CV, used as the rating valuation, is the likely price the property would have sold for on 1 July 2014. Its new value will be used to help set rates for the three year rating period beginning next year, 1 July 2015.”
All councils are required by law to revalue every property in their region every three years. Over 525,000 properties are being revalued in Auckland.
Council’s team of experienced, qualified valuers work closely with independent organisation Quotable Value Ltd. Before valuations are finalised, they have to be approved by the Valuer-General, who’s responsible for authorising rating valuations for the Government across New Zealand.
and they’ve provided this map showing the average change by local board area.
What’s most noticeable is the strong growth in values on the areas just outside the inner suburbs while the urban fringe and rural local boards are seeing much smaller average increases. This suggests people are moving as close to the city as they can currently afford and that would fit with other trends both locally and internationally we’ve seen over the last decade or so.
In addition the council have provided some notes about some of the influences in each local board area
Value growth in this central area is strong, particularly in the Grammar Schools zone with very strong demand for properties offering redevelopment potential.
Demand is strong across all housing types in this established and sought after residential area.
Demand is increasing in Pukekohe but is slightly more subdued in Waiuku. Remote areas and rural settlements are showing modest increases over 2011 levels in comparison to other areas. Development at Beachlands is continuing with a large volume of sections coming to market at present.
Great Barrier (-12%)
Value levels have declined since 2011 and sales volumes are low. There are a large number of properties available for sale and marketing periods of 12 months or more are common. Factors associated with remoteness and a decrease in demand for coastal properties is driving value levels.
The Proposed Unitary Plan is influencing buyer expectations particularly in areas identified for more intensive land use, such as Te Atatu Peninsula and Westgate. Demand is strong for housing in all areas. Ranui, Massey, Henderson and Glendene are seen as affordable options for first home buyers.
Hibiscus & Bays (29%)
A consolidating residential locality characterised by homes dating predominantly from the early 1980s through to more recently constructed houses of above average quality, to executive style. Growth areas include Orewa and Millwater where average lot sizes are smaller. Weathertightness issues are still a factor in the market with housing that is subject to known weather tightness issues selling close to or in some instances below the 2011 roll values.
The market has moved fairly consistently throughout, with strong growth in the area of Flat Bush driving value levels.
A diverse area including character homes with views south towards the Waitemata Harbour, with easy access to motorway connections at Northcote and Birkenhead through to the more affordable housing areas of Beachaven and Birkdale. This area is showing an above average increase, especially properties with further development potential.
Buyers are actively seeking larger sites with further development potential in this area pushing value increases. Otahuhu provides relatively central but affordable housing compared to the inner city. Mangere Bridge has seen some of the strongest growth in values across the region since 2011, which is in part attributed to the community feel of the village, enhancement of waterfront areas with views to the Manukau Harbour, and the continual development of State Highway 20.
The introduction of the LVR is linked to a lower increase in this area, which predominately comprises a market for first home buyers and investors.
Value growth has been strong as the area is seen to be relatively central. Transportation and roading including recent rail development in Onehunga and new rail station in Panmure, as well as AMETI in the east and SH20 to the west, are also drivers towards value increases.
These central suburbs have seen strong value growth; however growth has been weaker for high value coastal land and properties at the top end of the market ($4million-plus).
Buyers are looking to this area as being relatively central but affordable compared to the inner city. Demand is particularly strong within Papatoetoe for sites with development potential.
While the area provides a range of housing for first home buyers and is one of the most affordable areas of the region, Papakura value movements are more modest than other areas, with travel times of 30 minutes to the CBD off-peak.
Similar to Mangakiekie-Tamaki, housing in the Puketapapa area is seen as an attractive option for buyers looking to locate centrally and for generally less than $850,000. Transportation is improving as State Highway 20 development continues and the area is seen as more accessible than it was 10 years ago.
Generally residential values increases are modest in comparison to the central suburbs, and land values of coastal sites have increased a slower rate than inland property.
Upper Harbour (31%)
Housing with known weathertightness issues selling close to or in some instances below 2011 values are impacting on overall value movements. Significant development is occurring at Hobsonville, with overall section sizes being relatively small.
Value levels on Waiheke have seen smaller increases relative to the isthmus with land values generally only showing modest increases.
Waitakere Ranges (32%)
The overall demand is weaker than in central locations with accessibility issues and development difficulties, such as steep bush clad sites, which can impact on desirability and value levels.
Waitemata has two distinct markets – CBD apartments and secondly, traditional inner city housing areas such as Freeman’s Bay, Herne Bay, Ponsonby and Grey Lynn. Value movements for traditional housing areas is similar to Orakei and Albert/Eden, while average movements for CBD apartments is lower.
The Proposed Unitary Plan is influencing buyer expectations, particularly in areas identified for more intensive land use such as New Lynn. The extension of State Highway 20 and the Waterview connection has contributed to increased interest in the area, and significant value growth has occurred over the last three years
We’ll have to wait till November before the details are available for each individual property.
Currently the Auckland Council is going through the process of setting their Long Term Plan, which sets out the councils budget for the next 10 years. This is the timeline from the council’s website.
Long-term Plan timeline
- August 2014 – Mayor’s LTP proposal
- December 2014 – Auckland Council adopts draft LTP
- January and February 2015 – Public consultation on the draft LTP
- April 2015 – Public hearings
- June 2015 – Local boards adopt local board agreements and governing body adopts final LTP.
The first step is when the mayor presents his budget proposal on August 28, which is then discussed and amended by the councillors before a draft is released for public consultation.
Back in June some information about the Auckland Council’s budget was released to the media, and of course the Herald’s Bernard Orsman used this is say the world was going to end with threats to parks, libraries and a variety of projects. However their was no actual numbers released by the Herald or the council at the time. So I thought it would be great to get the information into the wider public domain. Therefore I decided to send a LGOIMA request into the Auckland Council to request the documents that were presented to the council and media.
The Auckland Council media team were happy to supply the details, and there is a wealth of fascinating information in these documents. Today I will focus on the wider issues around funding, and tomorrow the specifics about transport.
The following slides all come from a workshop held on June 7 where information was presented by council staff and CEO’s to councillors and local board chairs.
Firstly attendees were given a document that gave a number of key figures.
The document also included some useful background on the challenges faced, which was expanded up on later.
Opportunity to Create Capacity
The current LTP assumes an average 4.9% rates increase from 2015/16 onwards. In order to reduce this average to the 2.5% to 3.5% range – significant reductions in operating costs will be required. A 2.5% rates increase would require $90 million to be taken out of 2015/16 rising to $630 million by 2024/25. At 3.5 % the reduction is $75 million in 2015/16 and by 2024/25 rises to $430 million. To achieve reductions of this magnitude a range of options will need to be considered. Below are some indicative opportunities which could be considered and developed further.
This suggests the council is rather flexible on the 2.5% target, that was announced by Len Brown during his reelection campaign. This is good news, and not sure enough analysis was done around the effect of that target at the time.
The first presentation was the council CEO speaking on on the topic “Transforming Auckland”.
This largely focussed on how to implement the Auckland Plan, and how to prioritise projects within this.
The main new information is the ten “Spatial Priorities” which are on this map below.
The Spatial Priorities seem to be:
- City and City Fringe
- Avondale/New Lynn
- Manurewa – Papakura
- Flat Bush
However this now means the council has a number of competing priorities, and the announcement of Special Housing Areas has confused this even further. They seem to have so many priorities that too few areas are not priorities.
Next there was a presentation by the Chief Financial Officer titled “Opportunities to create capacity and deliver better value”.
This slide shows where rates money is accounted for, divided between Depreciation (red), Interest (green) and Other (blue).
This slide is one of the most interesting as shows the scale of savings or efficiencies that need to be achieved by 2024/2025. Which is up to $630 million if rates are kept to 2.5% and still $430 million with 3.5%. However this also does show that the issues are not urgent (as in this years budget) but are cummulative over the next decade.
This highlights that while savings can be made from services and efficiencies, a large portion of the spending reduction requires cuts in capital projects.
Defer or reduce capital programme
The capital programme is a major driver of the operating costs in the current LTP. Each new asset adds costs for depreciation, operation of the asset and, when funded by debt, interest. One way to reduce the operating costs is to defer or reduce the capital expenditure programme.
The capital programme based on the current LTP assumptions is $21 billion. Of this 50% is transport, 23% is water supply and wastewater. The next largest group is Parks, Community and Lifestyle. Water and wastewater are funded by user charges so do not impact on the rates.
In order to get a rates reduction of $350 million per annum by year 10, the capital programme would need to reduce by approximately $3.7 billion.In order to get a rates reduction of $250 million per annum by year 10, the capital programme would need to reduce by approximately $2.7 billion.
As the two biggest rates funded areas this would have the most impact on Transport and Parks, Community and Lifestyle.
Significant savings can be achieved through standardised design and a regional approach to managing renewal priorities and budgets.
The cuts suggested for transport could either be a disaster for public transport, or a great way to get rid of those useless and oversized roading projects we have been arguing against (like Penlink and Mill Road). Tomorrow I will look at transport and especially Auckland Transport’s presentation that was given to the workshop which sheds some light on the discussions surrounding this.
We have had concerns about a number of the Special Housing Areas that have been announced. A month ago I looked in depth into the locations and types of SHA’s. I found nearly 10,000 dwellings have been announced outside the urban limits, which will put huge pressure on infrastructure and council budgets. This is in addition to another 10,000 greenfield dwellings inside the existing limits. The total lack of public transport in many of these areas is probably the biggest worry, and projects such as the North-Western busway will need to be brought forward soon to avoid some areas becoming very car dependent. However these areas will also need substantial infrastructure investment in trunk water and sewer mains, as well as social infrastructure.
The individual development that concerned us most was at Helensville, which was part of Tranche 3 and announced in May. While this was only 60 dwellings, it seemed totally opposed to Auckland Council strategy. In the Auckland Plan it was not identified as a satellite town, but a rural/coastal town and therefore only limited development was expected.
Helensville also lacks jobs, with a 30km commute even to the closest major shopping centre at Westgate. The 2013 Census says there were 1077 jobs in Helensville, with a resident population of 2643. It is hard to foresee the number of jobs rising by over 100 to meet the needs of the new residents. To add to this public transport is rather hopeless with only 10 buses a day on weekdays, which take 1.5 hours to get to the city. While people may not wish to travel to the CBD, would still take over an 1 hour to get the nearest job centers in Henderson. On Saturdays it takes 2 hours to the city, and on Sundays their is no service at all!
Therefore we thought some questions needed to be asked about why the SHA was approved, so we decided to send a LGOIMA request asking for information presented on the SHA, and minutes of the meetings where it was discussed.
The information we received was both fascinating and concerning. First there were a number of slides about the development that we presented to council members. SHA’s were first considered by a workshop on March 5. Then they went to the Auckland Development Committee (whole of council) on April 2 and April 14.
So we have a large number of issues outlined. The area lacked potable water and wastewater connections (note WSL is Watercare), flooding, and their would be little demand.
It is now wonder that when the development was presented to the council workshop on April 14, Helensville was not recommended to be an SHA.
The minutes of the April 14 meeting show that the councillors agreed with the recommendation and the SHA was included on the list to be declined. The minutes do show that local councillor Penny Webster was noted as a dissenting voice.
After the initial council vote, the SHA’s then go to the Governing Body for final signoff, which was on May 1. The initial motion moved was that same as that passed by the Development Committee several weeks earlier. However an amendment was put up by Cr Penny Webster to reintroduce a portion of the Helensville SHA.
The motion passed 15 votes to 6. The division is quite interesting, with the mayor and an interesting mix of councillors voting against. The minutes of the meeting do not show any evidence that any extra material was presented to the meeting that suggested the Housing Office has changed their mind. Note the development was smaller, going down from 300 houses to 60. However it will still need council services extending and cause 100’s of extra trips along SH 16.
This is rather concerning as it looks like the Helensville SHA was approved despite official advice that is should be denied. Unfortunately we do not have the minutes of the earlier meetings to see if any other SHA’s were agreed to against official advice, however these minutes show that it just requires a simple majority vote.
The potential for more of this can be seen in the same May Governing Body minutes where Dick Quax tried to add in a development along Point View Drive, which is a rural area adjacent to Botany. This had also been denied at earlier stages of the process.
Interestingly the minutes include the full list of potential Trance 3 developments that were rejected by the Housing Project Office and turned down by the committees. This does show that there is some rigour in the process, however would be interested to know how many were turned down because of infrastructure and planning issues, and how many encountered local board or councillor NIMBY issues.
The fourth Tranche of SHA’s will be considered in the private session of the Auckland Development Committee on Thursday. With some light now shed on the process, I’m hoping councillors will be extra careful when passing further housing areas outside the urban area. Would be great to see no more SHA’s outside the urban limits, given the investment already required by council to deal with the 10,000 already passed. While the session is private, you can still email your local councillor general thoughts about SHA’s beforehand, their contact details are on the council website here.
*Update: Interestingly the part owners of the Helensville SHA (the Kidds, Directors and Shareholders of Hounslow Holdings) have long been lobbying for more growth in Helensville. See these 2013 articles “Fighting to Grow (Rodney Times)” and “Plan lacks up vs out costings (NZ Herald)”. However the articles also show the wastewater treatment plans is a serious issue in terms of growth. The herald article includes this quote:
The main handicap has been the capacity of the existing water and wastewater system. Watercare is spending $5 million upgrading the wastewater treatment plant but has no plans to upgrade it for growth until 2020.
This is further evidence that the SHA should have not been allowed to go ahead.
Auckland’s Local Boards are currently consulting on their 3 year plans. The plans highlight the boards priorities across a range of areas, and each board has about half a dozen outcomes. Generally one of these outcomes includes transport. While the boards cannot control Auckland Transport, they do have a strong advocacy role. Therefore it is useful seeing what each of the boards say about the plans. The plans are all available on the very useful shapeauckland.co.nz website, which is worth checking regularly as it is a hub for all consultation the Auckland Council is undertaking.
As to be expected there is a wide range of outcomes and projects called for. Some boards have excellent plans, while others are clearly lacking. There are some common themes though. All of them mention improved public transport which is good to see, though the level of detail gives away how serious they are. Park and Ride is also regularly mentioned by local boards, however we have highlighted before that this is an expensive way to grow patronage in urban areas, so best to first focus on improving connecting buses, walking and cycling access. Local Boards with extensive coastlines often seem to focus on ferry improvements and new services, but neglect much more affordable bus improvements. Most of the boards have good things to say about walking and cycling. However often there is too much of a focus on Greenways and recreational paths, rather than separated cycleways along useful routes. The ideal Greenway projects are paths that can double as both useful routes and recreational paths, so Greenways like that should be prioritised.
The local board plans are open for submissions until 5pm Wednesday. A good number of positive submissions would help raise the standard of the plans. It would be great to ensure Congestion Free Network projects are included in all relevant plans,so that is one obvious area to submit on. If local boards really do care about improving public transport they should also be advocating for more bus lanes, which is the quickest and easiest way to improve public transport journey time and reliability, and also grow patronage. More advocacy for improved walking & cycling links to stations, as well as separated cycleways connecting key local destinations and traffic calming of local streets would also be great.
More quick win bus lanes like this one on Fanshawe would be great
Here are some of the local board statements in more detail, highlighting the good and the bad. The best 2 are probably Kaipatiki and Puketapapa, with Waitemata, Maungakiekie-Tamaki and Mangere-Otahuhu also honourable mentions.
Kaipātiki benefits from being situated in the heart of the North Shore and a short trip to Auckland’s CBD, but only 10 per cent of our residents use public transport, cycling or walking to get to work. We are determined to reduce our reliance on cars and increase our use of public transport.
Over the next three years we will:
- advocate to Auckland Transport for a significant shift to bus and ferry services which are fully integrated and part of one network
- support the development of a walking and cycling connection over the Harbour Bridge to the CBD
- work with Auckland Transport to implement our Network Connections Plan. This will create safe walking and cycling links around our neighbourhoods
- support transit lane initiatives to reduce congestion on busy main roads.
A small proportion of Puketāpapa residents work locally; most travel to the CBD and adjacent suburbs. In our area car ownership is lower than the Auckland average and there is a greater reliance on public transport. We need to improve transport connections and choices.
Over the next three years we will:
- boost public transport use by investigating park and ride options, a Rail-to-Roskill spur, and potential for more cross-town services
- advocate for more separated cycle lanes on routes to schools and recreational areas and more walking school buses; implementation of the Puketāpapa Greenways Plan
- partner with Auckland Transport to improve safety, especially around footpaths and crossings.
Plans for Albert-Eden, Manurewa, Waiheke, Waitakere Ranges, Whau all have some useful and positive things identified, though overall seem somewhat unambitious.
Then their are several who are on the right track, but that has led them to promote some strange proposals.
advocating for Light Rail Along the Northern Motorway
Don’t understand why they are advocating for light rail. The North-Western Busway is the realistic project that needs strong local board support to keep it in the spotlight.
Devonport – Takapuna
ensuring commuter cycling is safe and efficient
While great not focussing on greenways, “commuter” cycling isn’t the right word either. Great cycle routes used not just by commuters, but school children, people visiting local businesses, trips and to see friends and Sunday afternoon relaxation. Lake Road has decent quality (by Auckland standards) painted lanes, but these should be upgraded with easy separators to grow usage.
- Outcome: Free-flowing roads, and public transport that’s frequent and easy to use
- advocate for the separation of cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles along Tāmaki Drive, by building a seaward boardwalk/walkway where appropriate
Part of their outcome statement is frankly ridiculous. Free flowing roads is a totally unrealistic outcome. Auckland traffic engineering has been led by this aiming for this outcome for 50 years, which leads to dozens of projects to just add one extra lane to an intersection in the vain hope traffic will flow faster. Of course this never happens, and the sum of this is roads that are awful for pedestrians and cyclists, and thus encourages more traffic.
While great to see Orakei advocating for separated cycleways, they are also strong advocates of free parking along Tamaki Drive, There is plenty of space to turn the existing width of Tamaki Drive into a world-class street, however it requires removing free parking. The board plan would involve spending a huge sum of money, largely to allow free parking on both sides of Tamaki Drive for the whole width.
Tamaki Drive Masterplan – looks lovely but that is some expensive parking
build foot bridges over congested roads
Again you can understand the boards thinking, however overbridges generally considered to be a failure. Very rare to see anyone using overbridge between Albert Park and AUT for example. Usually a case of unsafe intersection design and poor phasing for pedestrians. This can be fixed cheaply and easily, rather than building footbridges.
Then there are some boards that are very unambitious on promoting transport improvements, or are promoting expensive and unnecessary roading projects. Hibiscus Bays, Howick and Papakura have the biggest issues, but Franklin, Rodney and Upper Harbour also fall into this category too.
Hibiscus and Bays
advocating to bring forward the constructon of Penlink to improve travel times and ease congestion across Whangaparāoa and Silverdale
Their efforts would be much better focussed on lobbying for Northern Busway extensions to Albany and future proofing for extensions to Silverdale.
continue to partner with Auckland Transport to urgently address transport issues, including investigating the need for further ferry transport and improving cycle ways
While this statement sounds lovely, Howick’s transport issues exist because of the lack of alternative modes of travel for many destinations, and the slowness of the services that do exist. This statement is very unambitious compared to most other local boards, so could be much stronger. Ferries will only ever help people that travel to the CBD, and largely useful for people that live near the existing ferry terminal at Half Moon Bay. The local board should really be advocating for bus lanes along Pakuranga Road, and bringing forward the Botany busway.
reduce traffic congestion by pushing for road improvements such as the Mill Road bypass and bridges over rail crossings
The Mill Road bypass is yet another expensive legacy project that Auckland Transport seems unable to downsize to an appropriate level. It is the first stage of an traffic engineers dream project to provide an alternative route to the Southern Motorway, all the way to Drury. However given the huge spending that is taking place on the Southern Motorway to add another lane from Manukau to Papakura, including widening the Takanini bridge, there really is no need for this project. It should be rightsized to a local road safety upgrade which is actually urgently required, rather than stage 1 of a 4 lane highway upgrade.
I encourage everyone to submit on the local board plans to ensure they match your vision for Auckland. You are able to submit on all plans, so feel free to submit on plans in areas where you work or regularly visit as well as where you live. Submissions close Wednesday 5pm.