Posted on December 16, 2015
Labour’s Auckland mayoral candidate Phil Goff supports intensification, but not where it is not popular. Welcome to the world of local government Phil.
As I travel around the region, ratepayers are telling me they want their mayoral candidates to be clear about their plans. Wishful promises of this or that aren’t terribly interesting – because we’ve had a lot of that over the last five years.
Tomorrow the formerly confidential unitary plan maps will be released, showing what has been reported as massive changes from what was consulted on in 2013. All serious candidates for Mayor need to be more “intense” about the detail of what they will do as Mayor of Auckland.
So Phil, when you say you support intensification on our arterial roads does that include Dominion and Mt Albert Roads? Do you want more than the mainly town centre/mixed use planned for Dominion Road? Or do you want to wait for the incomplete, unfunded, non-consulted light rail idea you are keen on to be in place first?
Are you saying the mainly residential Mixed Housing Urban/Suburban zones on Mt Albert Road should be intensified? Or does this fall into the areas where there are strong objections and so should be avoided?
When you say you support city intensification, is that just the CBD/City Center? Given that greater intensification has been possible there under previous council plans, what is your plan to achieve this?
Here’s what I think: we need to make more progress getting more residential living in the city center, Takapuna and Manukau (other so-called Metro centers are also candidates but these three are standouts). What’s been holding us back is a lack of commercial deal making with the landowners to get them to develop, and council not developing/releasing council land effectively. That will be my focus.
Many of our arterial routes are already congested, or are planned to get more congested. So we can’t focus on intensifying these as a general rule unless transport planning is improved (refer transport). Dominion Road may well have been a candidate had the long discussed and finally agreed (and funded) upgrade plans been implemented. But these have been put on hold ahead of Auckland Transport’s light rail investigation and so significant intensification there looks challenging in the short term.
In terms of “the suburbs”, we have the strong objections to what’s proposed because of the way the current Mayor has led the planning. It hasn’t genuinely involved communities, so Phil’s plan to leave aside areas where there are strong objections may miss some great opportunities.
Many of our 50 town centres will not survive the “most liveable” future if we don’t increase the number of people living near them. But Len’s approach has been to treat them all pretty much the same, and that’s a big mistake. There are different degrees of intensification possible in our many different town centres and suburbs. This needs to be better reflected in our (next) unitary plan.
If the current council residential direction is confirmed by the Hearings Panel, I will lead a plan change to re-write this to get an outcome where we can make even quicker progress by adding more housing in our suburbs – where that makes sense.
But, we can still make progress building more housing by focusing on the metro areas I mention. I’ll also ask the Government to extend the Special Housing Area legislation if I think we need it. And I’ll establish a means by which we know actually how many houses are being built!