Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Smarter Governance for a Smarter Auckland


Today I delivered a presentation at the Rendevous Hotel to the Smart Cities Summit Conference. I was asked to speak about the sort of governance and leadership that Auckland needs - across the Region. And to speak about whether the governance reforms will deliver. These are a few slides and words from that presentation. They cover issues in Auckland City and North Shore City...


I used the example of Mexico to begin. Mexico has a reputation for poor air quality and a lot of other environmental bads. But their streets and communities are dynamic with life and energy.


This is a typical Mexico arterial street. I know it's an old city, but what a great streetscape. Sure the air looks pretty unhealthy.


But the back streets and communities are dynamic with life and energy. A lot of attention given to public spaces without cars and traffic. Interesting.


When you come back to Auckland it strikes you what it's like here - in the hearts of our cities. This is the heart of Manukau City as seen from the air on the way to land. It's really just a huge car park. Not a great people place...


And then when you do get back to North Shore, you can't ignore the fact we have some "bad air days" of our own in Auckland. And it's not because of winter fires. It's because of our dependence on, and heavy use of motor vehicles...

This is an aerial view of where Northcote Road crosses State Highway 1 on the North Shore. The uses of the land are labelled. To get between them you really need to drive. It's a car oriented design. It's not for pedestrians or cyclists. A lot of the North Shore has been designed this way.


It's one of the reasons the Auckland Region developed a Growth Strategy. To stop sprawl, and to establish much better quality urban environments. The idea was to encourage better quality density development around centres, and corridors, but to leave other parts free of infill development so the leafy character remains. This picture is from the strategy. It shows what the vision was supposed to be for Centres....

But these pictures show the reality of residential development in downtown Auckland. Very poor amenity compared to the vision. Disappointing - both for the people who live there, and setting a bad example for other places to copy. Not exemplary. And leaky building construction adds further injury...

Another part of the strategy has been Corridor Development. Aimed at streets like Taharoto, Wairau, Dominion, Sandringham - for example. These are served by quality bus transport. Others are close to railway lines....

This is a bad example from Auckland/West Auckland. Nobody really wants to live next to a railway line that looks like this. Nothing like the strategy. Poor amenity and lowest quality urban design. We can do better, and we need to do better...

This picture shows an aerial view of Highbury, on the North Shore. Highbury is a village and centre that was built long before the Harbour Bridge was built. It is a classic "english" town design. It has good main streets with shops and cafes, it also has commercial and light industrial areas which offer employment opportunities, there are green spaces and other public facilities (like a library). And as you can see, residential development is close enough so people can walk to the shops and to work...

But this is not how the new parts of North Shore have been developed. This is part of the Albany development. To the right is the Rosedale Industrial Estate, and to the left is new residential subdivision. This is a classic single use zoning. No mixed use. No walkable relationship between different uses. This is a negative change to car based living, because of its reduction in pedestrian and cycling based living and amenity. We need to do better....

Water, wastewater, and stormwater are issues for Auckland and for North Shore - where these images were taken. Flooding and erosion are issues when it rains. Yet - like last summer - when it's dry then we seem to not have enough water!

North Shore's steep topography means when it rains hard, water finds overland flow paths, and goes downhill at great speed. Down driveways, along fences, damming up and causing floods as it goes...

And then finally, what's left after the floods, discharges at great velocity into stream beds (causing damage and erosion and scouring), and finally into the the sea - often at beautiful beaches. Like here at Takapuna. Stormwater eventually needs to get to the sea, but the pathways its takes, and the damage done on the way, need to be carefully managed.

But it's not all bad.... North Shore City Council is a leader in the Auckland region at managing water in a 3 water way. This means storing stormwater in detention tanks, for reuse, but also to slow its flow when it rains hard. Slow it down in those short, peak 15 minute downpours. The strategy is also about keeping stormwater out of sewer pipes, so they don't discharge. And those old straight concrete drains and pipes are giving way to softer, more attractive approaches which slow water down and provide storage, rather than approaches based around high flow rates...

There is some high quality urban design around corridor and station development. This station development at Newmarket marries a railway station with great urban design, new shops, public open piazza spaces, and high quality medium density housing for those people wanting to live closer to the action, but unable to afford an expensive freehold house.

And across the Auckland Region there is a concerted approach to provide improved and safe cycle infrastructure, so Auckland's potential for this form of transport can be realised, along with the change in look and feel of town centres. They come to life when more people come and go by bike or on the footpath. But they must be safe.

This simple table illustrates what Councils do, the activity areas, and the legislation that directs council activities. Good governance depends on three things: good staff; good councillors, and good legislation. Without all three it's difficult to make positive changes to the look and feel of Auckland's urban landscapes and our town centres and streets.

This picture is from the Government document: "Making Auckland Greater", which led to the legislation that will abolish existing councils including North Shore City Council, and Auckland Regional Council - and establish a single supercity council. This will have a set of CCOs to provide key services like transport and water services. But there are major questions about the new supercity.

For example: how integrated will all this be? Will the new legislation lead to better outcomes? Is it more likely that the good things in the old Growth Strategy can finally be delivered more reliably? This diagram shows one of the problems with what has been proposed. Council "3 water" services will be split up. The Watercare CCO will only provide water and wastewater services, and stormwater will be provided alone by Auckland Council. This is a very disappointing disintegration.


There was more in my presentation about these aspects. However a lot of faith is being put in a new spatial plan to solve problems around integration and implementation. But it could just be a fashion. A planning fad. Check out the blog below for more on the spatial plan. This was published in NZ Herald on 29th June. And there's more on this blog about spatial planning....

1 comment:

Jimmy5353 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Smarter Governance for a Smarter Auckland


Today I delivered a presentation at the Rendevous Hotel to the Smart Cities Summit Conference. I was asked to speak about the sort of governance and leadership that Auckland needs - across the Region. And to speak about whether the governance reforms will deliver. These are a few slides and words from that presentation. They cover issues in Auckland City and North Shore City...


I used the example of Mexico to begin. Mexico has a reputation for poor air quality and a lot of other environmental bads. But their streets and communities are dynamic with life and energy.


This is a typical Mexico arterial street. I know it's an old city, but what a great streetscape. Sure the air looks pretty unhealthy.


But the back streets and communities are dynamic with life and energy. A lot of attention given to public spaces without cars and traffic. Interesting.


When you come back to Auckland it strikes you what it's like here - in the hearts of our cities. This is the heart of Manukau City as seen from the air on the way to land. It's really just a huge car park. Not a great people place...


And then when you do get back to North Shore, you can't ignore the fact we have some "bad air days" of our own in Auckland. And it's not because of winter fires. It's because of our dependence on, and heavy use of motor vehicles...

This is an aerial view of where Northcote Road crosses State Highway 1 on the North Shore. The uses of the land are labelled. To get between them you really need to drive. It's a car oriented design. It's not for pedestrians or cyclists. A lot of the North Shore has been designed this way.


It's one of the reasons the Auckland Region developed a Growth Strategy. To stop sprawl, and to establish much better quality urban environments. The idea was to encourage better quality density development around centres, and corridors, but to leave other parts free of infill development so the leafy character remains. This picture is from the strategy. It shows what the vision was supposed to be for Centres....

But these pictures show the reality of residential development in downtown Auckland. Very poor amenity compared to the vision. Disappointing - both for the people who live there, and setting a bad example for other places to copy. Not exemplary. And leaky building construction adds further injury...

Another part of the strategy has been Corridor Development. Aimed at streets like Taharoto, Wairau, Dominion, Sandringham - for example. These are served by quality bus transport. Others are close to railway lines....

This is a bad example from Auckland/West Auckland. Nobody really wants to live next to a railway line that looks like this. Nothing like the strategy. Poor amenity and lowest quality urban design. We can do better, and we need to do better...

This picture shows an aerial view of Highbury, on the North Shore. Highbury is a village and centre that was built long before the Harbour Bridge was built. It is a classic "english" town design. It has good main streets with shops and cafes, it also has commercial and light industrial areas which offer employment opportunities, there are green spaces and other public facilities (like a library). And as you can see, residential development is close enough so people can walk to the shops and to work...

But this is not how the new parts of North Shore have been developed. This is part of the Albany development. To the right is the Rosedale Industrial Estate, and to the left is new residential subdivision. This is a classic single use zoning. No mixed use. No walkable relationship between different uses. This is a negative change to car based living, because of its reduction in pedestrian and cycling based living and amenity. We need to do better....

Water, wastewater, and stormwater are issues for Auckland and for North Shore - where these images were taken. Flooding and erosion are issues when it rains. Yet - like last summer - when it's dry then we seem to not have enough water!

North Shore's steep topography means when it rains hard, water finds overland flow paths, and goes downhill at great speed. Down driveways, along fences, damming up and causing floods as it goes...

And then finally, what's left after the floods, discharges at great velocity into stream beds (causing damage and erosion and scouring), and finally into the the sea - often at beautiful beaches. Like here at Takapuna. Stormwater eventually needs to get to the sea, but the pathways its takes, and the damage done on the way, need to be carefully managed.

But it's not all bad.... North Shore City Council is a leader in the Auckland region at managing water in a 3 water way. This means storing stormwater in detention tanks, for reuse, but also to slow its flow when it rains hard. Slow it down in those short, peak 15 minute downpours. The strategy is also about keeping stormwater out of sewer pipes, so they don't discharge. And those old straight concrete drains and pipes are giving way to softer, more attractive approaches which slow water down and provide storage, rather than approaches based around high flow rates...

There is some high quality urban design around corridor and station development. This station development at Newmarket marries a railway station with great urban design, new shops, public open piazza spaces, and high quality medium density housing for those people wanting to live closer to the action, but unable to afford an expensive freehold house.

And across the Auckland Region there is a concerted approach to provide improved and safe cycle infrastructure, so Auckland's potential for this form of transport can be realised, along with the change in look and feel of town centres. They come to life when more people come and go by bike or on the footpath. But they must be safe.

This simple table illustrates what Councils do, the activity areas, and the legislation that directs council activities. Good governance depends on three things: good staff; good councillors, and good legislation. Without all three it's difficult to make positive changes to the look and feel of Auckland's urban landscapes and our town centres and streets.

This picture is from the Government document: "Making Auckland Greater", which led to the legislation that will abolish existing councils including North Shore City Council, and Auckland Regional Council - and establish a single supercity council. This will have a set of CCOs to provide key services like transport and water services. But there are major questions about the new supercity.

For example: how integrated will all this be? Will the new legislation lead to better outcomes? Is it more likely that the good things in the old Growth Strategy can finally be delivered more reliably? This diagram shows one of the problems with what has been proposed. Council "3 water" services will be split up. The Watercare CCO will only provide water and wastewater services, and stormwater will be provided alone by Auckland Council. This is a very disappointing disintegration.


There was more in my presentation about these aspects. However a lot of faith is being put in a new spatial plan to solve problems around integration and implementation. But it could just be a fashion. A planning fad. Check out the blog below for more on the spatial plan. This was published in NZ Herald on 29th June. And there's more on this blog about spatial planning....

1 comment:

Jimmy5353 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.