Saturday, May 29, 2010

Auckland's Spatial Plan requires big rethink

Introduction

The purpose of this blog is to encourage more analysis of Auckland's approach to strategic planning in general, and to call for a more public process in preparing a spatial plan. That is why I have spent months researching best practice spatial planning, and comparing that with what we have now as a starting point here in Auckland. You can download my first full draft of that research at the end of this blog.

But first, three introductory reads. The first two are extracts from submissions I made to the Royal Commission. These were my take on what Auckland needed to fix and improve.

The third is an introduction to the research I did.

Royal Commission Submission Extract 1

This submission is supported by case studies with which I am very familiar, and explanations of important procedures I believe should become central to Auckland planning such as Master Planning; the use of Development Agencies; and The Regional Development Plan. It also includes a couple of cautionary notes. The basis of my submission may be summarised as:

* implementation of the compact city region strategic vision is failing
* Auckland development needs to change direction if it is to become more sustainable, and more economically efficient
* regional planning needs to be strengthened, relevant infrastructure management centralised, and integrated implementation made more certain
* planning and implementation of urban regeneration projects requires a regional Urban Development Authority, and project specific Development Agencies to coordinate masterplanning and delivery
* achieving publicly agreed service outcomes should be the priority for service entities with mechanisms to avoid political extraction of profit from one service to cross-subsidise another
* community expectations and diversity need to be recognised through local involvement in local planning and local infrastructure projects
* the 1989 amalgamation delivered benefits which should be retained - if it ain’t broke don’t fix it
* bench-marking, accountability and transparency risk being lost through excessive
amalgamation of entities and integration of services
* ratepayers should receive one bill for their rates – prepared centrally
Auckland is not alone in re-assessing its future and wondering how to get there. Our urban region shares many of the same problems now being confronted around the world by Western cities whose development over the past forty years has largely been shaped by the automobile and by consensus support for that. This period and process of city development coincides with mass-production of consumer goods, mass consumption, wide-ranging belief in the infallibility of science, and strong middle-class support for traditional family values. This broad
consensus and associated prosperity encouraged central and regional governments to intervene strongly with supportive investment programs for infrastructure such as roading, water and energy projects. The Auckland Regional Authority (ARA) was a key part of this period in Auckland. It is said that: “the ARA built Auckland”. In fact the ARA built the airport, the modern port, and major water infratstructure, while the Ministry of Works built most of the motorway network.

Throughout this period Auckland expanded like there was no tomorrow. Its CBD was entirely reshaped by motorways. Greenfield development accelerated. The combination of urban expressways and urban sprawl made the car indispensable. While the 1973 oil crisis had an impact in Auckland, we quickly recovered from it, continuing as if it were business as usual. But it did mark the start of changing times. Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll may have played a part, so might the Vietnam war – who knows – but this was a time when discontent began growing around the standardisation of products and lifestyles, questions began to be asked about whether progress was always a good thing, was the Western way of life the only way? did science truly legitimise infrastructure projects? and was serious environmental damage being done in the name of progress?

Here at home in Auckland, change over the last fifteen years has been marked by the availability of the best coffee in the world, world-beating local wines and cheeses, internationally recognised restaurants, cultural diversity that goes way beyond simple Maori/Pakeha bi-culturalism, Hollywood-class local cinema production, and lauded innovation in sports and internet science. But there have been barely any changes in Auckland’s urban form and patterns of development. Auckland’s urban progress is increasingly out of step with its cultural progress, and is inconsistent with growing popular demands for a clean environment and a smaller ecological
footprint. There is growing scepticism towards large-scale infrastructure projects – such as State Highway 20 – which also reflects the rise of environmentalism. At the same time we see the unravelling of the consensus that underpinned the construction of Auckland’s urban form today – with its motorway-oriented and pedestrian unfriendly character, and its casual destruction of older villages, heritage buildings and human scale urban landscapes.

Instead there is an explosion of diversity, of conflicting interest groups who increasingly criticise the progress once thought so necessary, and who today can be relied upon to challenge any and all projects – no matter what. They demand to be heard and insist their views be taken into account. These groups do not universally call for cyclelanes and public transport – there are many supporters for the completion of SH20. Nor is there universal support for the compact city ideal which is a key objective of urban change – leaky buildings and poor examples of medium and high density housing have been a major setback. And despite today’s fragile consensus among Auckland’s local authorities that the region does need to move toward a more compact urban form, much of the development we actually see on the ground continues to entrench the car’s domination and forces more low-density development.

Auckland’s destructive preoccupation with real estate speculation is currently on hold, but the lure of short term profit-taking from greenfield subdivision still persists. Strong and consistent leadership and appropriate incentives will be needed to encourage a more long-term approach to Auckland’s urban economic development. Another key change today is that there is less public money to deliver everything the public might want. Current funding sources include rates, development levies, and Government funding – especially for transport projects. If any entity is guilty of continuing to force road-driven urbanism onto Auckland, it is Central Government. Its steadfast 100% funding commitment to state highway construction, alongside its relatively feeble support for other modes and other forms of economic development intervention, is the single most potent incentive to maintain the status quo. Government needs to become a fully signed up partner to delivering compact city economic development outcomes in Auckland.

Various ad-hoc restructurings in the past two decades have left Auckland with a legacy of piece-meal institutional design which needs repair. Ports of Auckland Ltd has been allowed to narrow its activities down to being a high volume container port and become a cash cow for public transport projects while ferry terminals and other port activities decay under inconsistent management and control. Watercare Services Ltd, while exhibiting exemplary and determined behaviour in delivering core business outcomes, is being keenly eyed by shareholders wanting access to its cash-rich balance sheet. These are examples of incomplete reform which intended these services should be subject to market discipline – either through privatisation or competition.

My submission proposes concrete changes so that Auckland’s governance is a central, regional, district and community partnership that: delivers a more sustainable and economically efficient urban form; functions effectively and transparently within Auckland’s changing environment; reliably delivers development projects that are consistent with and increase confidence in the compact urban form idea; and that materially recognises the changing demands for local involvment and participation arising from the emergence of Auckland civil society and its diversity of expectations.....

Royal Commission Submission Extract 2

Restating the key points of my main submission: the main problems facing Auckland include that implementation of the compact city region strategic vision is failing; Auckland development needs to change direction if it is to become more sustainable and more economically efficient; regional planning needs to be strengthened, relevant infrastructure management centralised, and integrated implementation made more certain; and the planning and implementation of urban regeneration projects requires a regional Urban Development Authority, and project specific Development Agencies to coordinate masterplanning and delivery.

Some argue that there is not enough funding to implement the compact city vision, and that is the main cause of the problem. However, it is estimated that central government spent $14.4 billion in the Auckland region in the 2005 fiscal year (see ARC’s submission, 22 April 2008), and that local and regional council funding in the 06/07 financial year was $2.02 billion for operating revenue and $967 million on capital expenditure.

In addition, I note the delivery of several significant urban regeneration projects over the past few years: North Shore Busway, New Lynn Station, and Britomart. They could have been better - as I noted in my main submission - but these projects are evidence that changes are occurring in Auckland. But we can learn from them.

Central government has already indicated its interest in investing in Auckland. Its readiness to build a waterfront stadium is clear evidence of such intent. Its continuing financial support for motorway construction is further evidence, as is its support for the rail project - even though this is somewhat reluctant. Some argue that there is an “imbalance between mandate and financial capability” in Auckland, and that this problem must also be “fixed”. These arguments usually lead to support for a single large vertically integrated Greater Auckland Council of some kind, where there would be an obvious and structural link between rates, mandate and financial capability. One-stop-shops have that character.

But this argument ignores the real fact that - as the data above demonstrates - that central government investment in the region far exceeds local government investment. While much of that investment is for services such as health and education, a big chunk of it subsidises the work of Auckland’s TLAs and the ARC. For example the New Lynn undergrounded railway station project is receiving more than $100 million from central government - far more than half the capital cost. The North Shore Busway project was more than 75% funded by central government. While more than half the cost of the modernisation of Auckland’s railway will be paid for by central government. (I note here that there is major concern in Auckland at the proportion of subsidy for Wellington’s railway systems, compared with Auckland’s - but I also note the massive extent of central government support for Auckland state highway development compared with Wellington.)

Partnerships The Local Government Act 2002 provides new possibilities for local and regional councils to work in partnership with other institutions. These include central government, other councils, the private sector and communities and community organisations. It allows for public-private-partnerships, joint ventures, and other arrangements. One of the principles of the LGA is that a local authority should work collaboratively, and build relationships. Underpinning this principle is the recognition that to achieve the goal of sustainable development, relationships and partnerships will be the key.

Case study projects I have already described are examples of partnership approaches to projects. I have provided an account in my main submission about what worked well, and what could have worked better in those projects. It is important to recognise however, that in all cases, central government support and funding was essentially conditional on the quality and strength of the partnership (with all partners - business, land-owners, and local community groups), and on the credibility of the economic benefit analysis put forward in support of the project funding application.

While it might seem attractive to provide central government with a “one-stop-shop” desk in Auckland for its attention, when considering the merits of Auckland projects, such an approach ignores the imperative of obtaining local community buy-in and support of any such project, it ignores the need for land owners and business to engage with public authorities of scale and weight at city level (not regional level) and it ignores the LGA’s purpose which is to maximise public participation and involvement at the appropriate level.

Central government is increasingly interested in becoming constructively engaged with Auckland regeneration projects. It’s Auckland economic development office - GUEDO - is a manifestation of that, and GUEDO’s recent report looking at cruise ship facilities and Queens Wharf opportunities is a concrete example.

Historically, central government has been happy to pour money into state highways because: there is public support for roads; it has direct control over Transit - the country’s state highway authority; there is a trackrecord of public satisfaction with this infrastructure. Central government’s attachment to this “roads are for cars” agenda is also why local councils have found it relatively easy to win central government support (through Transfund and now Land Transport NZ) for a 50% subsidy for local roading and arterial projects if they are for general traffic.

However, that agenda is changing, and central government is increasingly, and understandeably nervous about changing its transport funding policies and priorities. Among the key arguments in persuading central government to support Auckland’s rail project was that all of Auckland’s TLAs supported the Regional Land Transport Strategy (no dissent), and because of the associated agglomeration benefits for the local economy. These latter benefits arise from the increased intensity of economic activity arising in and around urban centres transformed
by the presence of a high quality public transport service, and by the dynamism associated with an actively patronised station and other urban amenity.

However it is critical to note that the transformation of Auckland through better passenger transport systems, through compact town centre form, through Transit Oriented Design and Development, through Pedestrian Oriented Urban design and development - won’t happen if it’s merely seen as a regional strategy.

This transformation will occur town centre by town centre, commercial zone by commercial zone, and street by street. It will be a project by project transformation. At local level. And each project will need to be treated on its merits and according to on-the-ground specifics of the existing urban fabric, existing transport infrastructure, community hopes and aspirations, land owner expectations, heritage opportunities.....

Reforms call for Spatial Plan

The Royal Commission into Auckland’s governance recommended that Auckland needed a spatial plan. The present Government has adopted this recommendation and drafted legislation requiring that the new Auckland Council prepare a spatial plan for Auckland.

Government officials have considered ways and means for the spatial plan to be prescribed by legislation; and what the primary purpose of the spatial plan should be. Now Auckland Transition Agency staff and consultants are working away on drafting Auckland's new planning framework. I only know this because vague bits of information come across my desk at Auckland Regional Council from time to time.

But there is no formal consultation to speak of, or that I can report. I am vaguely aware that certain staff members and ex-staff members, and senior consultants have been engaged on this work. But their mandate is undefined as far as ARC councillors are concerned. Indeed as far as any elected representatives are concerned.

In my time as a councillor I have seen ideas like Comprehensive Management Plans, Structure Plans, Master Plans - and now Spatial Plans - come and go. Like planning fashions. And in each case the officials involved and sometimes politicians, shape those techniques and planning methods, so that nothing really changes.

Planning tool has different name, but does same job. Nothing changes.

That is why I have been driven to investigate spatial planning, to try and do what I can, to get the best for Auckland out of this new tool, and for it not be crushed into the square box of Auckland's previous bad habits and bad planning patterns.

The center-piece of my research was an investigation of performance measures and best practice indicators upon which the design and implementation measurement of a spatial plan depends. This work included a literature research into best practice spatial planning methods in European countries and related research into indicators and performance measures.

Measurement and monitoring plays a critical role in testing whether desired outcomes and objectives are being achieved. Measurable targets that relate to strategic objectives and outcomes also play an important role. These targets can relate to indicators or they may be relate to numbers from recorded data sets. My research analyses indicator collections that have been developed in Auckland, and tests them against best practice.

My research culminates in an analysis of the Auckland indicator frameworks and strategic planning documents that will form the starting point for a new spatial plan. This assessment compares Auckland with best practices identified in the research. Best practice clearly points toward a public process involving all stakeholders – rather than spatial plan preparation being a purely technocratic map-making process. Best practice also points to an approach where the design of the spatial plan is shaped by indicators and performance targets that transparently relate to Auckland issues citizens want addressed.

You will see a big area of analysis relates to integrated planning - vertical and horizontal. Another word for this - by the way - is partnership. Working together for common outcomes. But emphasising the community dimension. Local place making.

And perhaps I leave you with this thought, before you get to my research: Probably the major issue for Auckland is housing affordability. By that I mean housing poverty, and this is mainly about the high proportion of households spending 30% plus of household income housing a family in rented accommodation - publicly or privately provided. Housing costs - and related costs like transport because you live far from amenity and miles from good public transport, and related problems like over-crowding - is a major problem in Auckland. So I ask you: What is Auckland doing about it? How are relevant - and agreed - policies and solutions embedded in Auckland's existing strategic planning framework addressing this issue? This is the sort of issue that needs to be addressed head-on in Auckland's spatial plan.

Here's my research paper for you to download.

Feedback and suggestions appreciated. This is a draft.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Super City Reforms - Stirred but Unshaken

The Local Government (Auckland Law Reform) Bill that was reported back from the Auckland Governance Legislation Select Committee yesterday makes for an interesting - and long - read. There are 60 pages of explanation from the Select Committee - most of these pages are taken up with the "majority" view (of National and Act members presumably), while some are dedicated to the "minority" views of the Labour, Green and Maori Parties. And there are 320 pages of the Bill complete with cross-outs (deletions from the first draft) and new sections.

The majority recommendation introduction conveys the tone of the Select Committee's thinking:

"...In our consideration of the bill we faced the challenge of finding the appropriate balance between specifying in the legislation the details of the governance structure and allowing Auckland Council appropriate flexibility to decide its own structure and processes. In finding this balance we have been mindful of Auckland's long-standing difficulties in providing integrated governance of the region. We have tried to devise a governance structure and legislative framework that can help the region progress. We are confident the new Auckland Council will take up this challenge, that it will listen to and represent its many diverse communities, and that it will overcome factionalised interests and work for the good of all Aucklanders..."
The key words to note in the above introduction are: "appropriate balance" and "integrated governance of the region" and "overcome factionalised interests".

The Good Bits

There are some good bits in the Bill. The Select Committee did listen to the tonnage of submissions that were made to this Bill. But remember, this is the third bill. There have been two other Bills that more or less set the course for these reforms. I was one of many submitters who tackled the specifics of Bill 3, rather than the fundamentals of the Government's reforms of Auckland governance. The last few sentences of my submission were these:

"....Throughout the process of Auckland Governance reform I have expressed strong concerns about both the process and the direction of these reforms. For the purposes of this submission I have set aside my broader concerns, and concentrated on the specific provisions in the Bill which I submit need to change in order to deliver the Government’s stated purpose of the Bill, namely: “…to create one Auckland, which has strong regional governance, integrated decision making, greater community engagement and improved value for money…....”
(You can see my submission at: http://joelcayford.blogspot.com/2010/02/my-submission-on-auckland-supercity.html)

Many people and groups made submissions to the Bill with this caveat. We were trying to make the best out of a bad design. Trying to make a silk purse from a sow's ear. And there have been improvements made by the Select Ctte. To this sow's ear of a SuperCity governance structure.

These include:

* Auckland Council being able to hire and fire directors of any of the CCOs. (Though in my experience of CCO's and Council owned entities - which includes Watercare, ARTA, ARH, Sea + City, POAL - we have never actually fired a director. A few didn't get their terms renewed after 2 or 3 years service. The major effort is in the initial appointments.)

* Auckland Council NOT being able to appoint councillors as directors to CCO's - except it can appoint 2 councillors onto the Board of the Auckland Transport CCO. (I agree that if Auckland Council must have CCOs then governance becomes problematic if you have councillors on CCO boards. The reason Select Ctte accepts having councillors on the board of Auckland Transport is because of the amount of money spent by that CCO, and the need - therefore - for increased accountability. This is tacit acceptance of the lack of accountability that goes with any CCO structure).

* Auckland Council being able to appoint the Chair and Deputy Chair of all CCO's.

* The Select Ctte setting out a comprehensive example of the non-regulatory activities that it recommends Local Boards should be empowered to decide and determine. (I am inclined to accept the view that the Select Ctte did not have the expertise to decide in detail what Local Boards should and should not be enabled to have power over. However the Auckland Transition Agency - which has been empowered to make this call - will have its work cut out in making these jurisdictional allocations in time for would-be candidates to know what Local Boards will be tasked with after elections later this year.) It is also appropriate to set a minimum timeframe of 18 months after the election before Auckland Council can reduce any powers that are allocated to Local Boards by the ATA, noting also that at any time - subject to consultation -Auckland Council can delegate additional powers and responsibilities to Local Boards.

* included in the list of activities for Local Board are economic development activities related to town centre upgrades, and where those "affect the Auckland transport system" then the local board would need to "work with Auckland Transport". The interaction with Auckland Transport specified in this exemplar includes decisions about: "Local policy positions on draft statements of intent for CCO's" - which presumably include Auckland Transport. (These are significant roles. However they may just be proxies for consultation that may be ignored. ATA's work now becomes critical. That is what Auckland council will inherit on day 1 - and can be in place for at least 18 months.)

* new accountability policy power for Auckland council over its CCOs. "This policy would allow the Auckland Council to articulate more clearly its day-to-day accountability expectations regarding its substantive CCOs..." (By the way, note the Bill sets up TWO types of CCOs - substantive CCOs - including Auckland Transport - and smaller ones.) The accountability policy specifies Auckland Council's wants re: "CCOs contribution to, and alignment with, the Council's and the Government's objectives and priorities; planning requirements of Auckland Council; requirements that CCOs operate according to LGOIMA; management of strategic assets....". The ctte suggest this accountability policy goes into Auckland Council's LTCCP.

* the Select Ctte recommends a new clause (45/75A) requiring "all substantive CCOs to give effect to all relevant aspects of the Auckland Council's LTCCP and to act consistently with all relevant aspects of other strategies and plans of Auckland Council, including its local boards, as specified by the governing body..." (This is significant. It pust the onus on Auckland Council to adopt relevant strategies that will influence the decisions of CCOs.)

* the Select Ctte has dabbled a bit with the spatial plan provisions. More below about these. But what is interesting is that there is explicit inclusion of "social and cultural infrastructure", and a new section dealing with spatial plan implementation.

* there is also a new provision allowing Auckland Council to set the "rules" for each CCO, but these appear to largely relate to the constitution for each CCO, and appear to be more administrative. (For example I don't think a rule would be allowed for Auckland Transport's CCO constitution requiring its directors to give effect to the Regional Land Transport Strategy!)


The Media's handling so far

NZ Herald has fallen at the first hurdle on this. Their coverage headlined: "U-Turn" is a complete misrepresentation of what the Select Ctte has delivered. The Select Ctte has improved what is fundamentally flawed, but the reforms are resolutely in the same direction. And of course the incoming council will work hard to get the best out of these reforms. That is its duty. But talk about being handed some pretty poorly designed tools to get the job done.

Also the Herald's editorial suggested all was well and we can all wait happily till November 1. Well. The news is that the transition work has really only just got properly started. The ATA must allocate the jurisdictional responsibilities and decision-making responsibilities - along the lines suggested by the Select Committee - to each and every board in the next few months. And each one is different. Not to forget "diverse". Much focussing of media microscopes will continue to be needed to ensure the best outcome. No washing of hands just yet please.

Back to the fundamentals

What is really happening with transport? The Select Ctte's explanation is helpful. It recommends: "...inserting a new section 41(eb) to specify that Auckland Transport is also repsonsible for undertaking any functions or exercising any powers in relation to the management of the State Highway system that the New Zealand Transport Authority has delegated to it.... " It is also clear from briefing papers prior to the first version of this Bill that the purpose of the spatial plan (which was closely linked with the National Infrastructure Plan) was to ensure that Auckland would be ready to receive infrastructure projects that had been centrally planning and funded.

Now, under Select Ctte recommendations, the spatial plan is to include social and cultural infrastructure that is being funded by central government. That could mean schools or prisons. And normally that would be good and appropriate for Auckland planning if there was a fully integrated approach to planning here. But that is not what is proposed. The integration that is proposed and argued for is all about vertical integration. It is about Auckland Council decisions being integrated with central government infrastructure decisions. And that is where the government's ideas about integration begin and end.

The spatial plan and Auckland's governance structure could become tools for rolling out Government economic growth policies. Not only will there be reduced red tape for private sector developments, But potentially central government's development plans for Auckland are also to be smoothly rolled out, the way smoothed by a nationally driven spatial plan, delivered by a super Transport CCO, with a side-lined Auckland Council tut-tutting noisily but ineffectually.

We all need to remember the importance of local place-making in all of the argument and discussion that led to the Royal Commission. Those discussions recognised the importance of horizontal integration, as well as vertical integration. Yes there needed to be better integration between Council and central government, but yes, there also needed to be much more joined up thinking at local level around local place-making plans.

It is at local level that the most sustained and sustainable economic development can occur. It should be through local master plans that infrastructure needs are identified - including for local roads and new allocations of existing road space. That is also the level for good integrated decisions around land use, and land use changes, and transport. Let alone transport energy use.

I have much more to say about this. But in later blogs.

I will end this by drawing attention to the new provisions for spatial planning in the Bill:
66A. Development, adoption, and implementation of spatial plan.
(1) The Auckland Council must involve central government, infrastructure providers (including network utility operators), the communities of Auckland, the private sector, and other parties (as appropriate) throughout the preparation and development of the spatial plan.
....
(5) The Auckland Council must endeavour to secure and maintain the support and co-operation of central government, infrastructure providers (including network utility operators), the communities of Auckland, the private sector, and other parties (as appropriate) in the implementation of the spatial plan.
This includes most people, I guess, but not Local Boards explicitly - though they are part of Auckland council. But a key purpose, probably THE key purpose of the spatial plan is to:
(c) enable coherent and co-ordinated decision making by Auckland Council (as the spatial planning agency) and other parties to determine the future location and timing of critical infrastructure, services, and investment within Auckland in accordance with the strategy; and
(d) provide a basis for aligning the implementation plans, regulatory plans, and funding programmes of the Auckland Council
Despite the sprinkled inclusion by the Select Ctte of the four well-beings throughout its recommendations, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the broad quadruple bottom-line goals that informed the commencement of Auckland local government reforms have been transformed into a political restructuring that supports an economic growth oriented infrastructure program driven by central government.

The contest of ideas and ideologies that have led to Auckland governance reform will continue to influence its implementation. The proposed Spatial Plan could become a tool to be used solely to support a narrow economic growth program, or it could be used to assist Auckland’s economic development more broadly. But to do that it must be enabled to act locally, and to integrate horizontally, not just vertically to satisfy central government appetites for infrastructure led economic growth.

Best practice spatial planning in Europe and Britain suggests a process that needs to be followed in Auckland to deliver the best planning framework for the future, and also to make a decisive break with Auckland’s bad planning habits of the past.
* Select the issues: Public process of identifying and defining a limited number of strategic issues; build public confidence through involvement and perception that the real issues are being addressed

* Develop a long term plan: Take account of power structures (including land owners, businesses, local boards, central government); develop decision-making structures and processes (to enable implementation to happen); develop conflict solving processes and structures that enable and ensure action and implementation

* Build consensus: Ensure vertical integration in planning process through effective involvement of central government in regional decisions; ensure horizontal integration in planning process through effective involvement of local boards and local stakeholders in local decisions

* Sustainable development: Ensure compliance with four well-being principles of Local Government Act and public consultation requirements; address issues of social exclusion in decision-making; respect and emphasise priority of local place-making alongside regional development objectives

Modern spatial planning is about much more than a map of new infrastructure projects. It is also not about "overcoming factionalised interests" as the Select Ctte appears to want.

It is about changing the way Auckland goes about implementing its strategic economic development plan. Unless these process changes are made in Auckland, then old problems will remain and history will repeat.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Aucklands Weather - What's happening now?

In case you didn't notice it rained last week.

Over a 24 hours period on Thursday and Friday Auckland recorded 59mm of rain.

This brought its annual rainfall for the whole of 2010 so far to 197mm in total.

So, Auckland received about a third of its entire year's rainfall in one day.

That's a big rain.

Even so, Auckland has still only received about 50% of normal rainfall for this January - May period. And the storage lake's are showing the results.

Check out this page on Watercare's website: http://www.watercare.co.nz/watercare/water-supply/aucklands-water-situation/dam-levels.cfm

You can use it to enter the storage lakes and see how their storage levels have changed over the previous 7 days.

Lower Huia has gone from 55% full to 68%, due to that rain.
Lower Nihotupu has gone from 62% to 70%.
Upper Huia has increased from 53% to 78% of full.
Upper Nihotupu has increased from a low of 23% to 55% of full.
And the Waitakere Dam has gone from 33% to 60% of full.

That's a big increase in good pure, bush catchment collected, stored water.

Spatial Plan - Proposal Problems and Better Practice

Introduction

On Monday Auckland gets to find out how Bill 3 relating to new Auckland Governance structures has been changed after the Select Committee processes. This will include how the Government now considers how spatial plannning should be carried out by Auckland Council, and for what purpose. So we are all ears.

In the meantime my research into spatial planning has been conducted. This has emphasised looking at international best practice, and the use of indicators as a means of measuring how the implementation of the spatial plan is proceeding, as well as a means of getting stakeholder buy in and participation into the planning process itself. I will be putting up the whole of the research on this blog in the fulness of time. But I thought it timely to put up my research conclusions here. Now.....

Preliminary Research Conclusion

"....While there are many differences in detail, there is clear consensus across National Government, and Regional and Local government in Auckland, that Auckland needs a spatial plan. There also appears to be clear direction in law that the spatial plan should be consistent with the purposes of the Local Government Act which includes that:

….local authorities play a broad role in promoting the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of their communities, taking a sustainable development approach.

However the contest of ideas and ideologies that have led to Auckland governance reform will continue to influence its implementation. The broad quadruple bottom-line goals that informed the commencement of Auckland local government reforms have been transformed into a political restructuring that supports an economic growth oriented infrastructure program driven by central government. The proposed Spatial Plan is a tool that could be used solely to support that program, or it could be used to assist Auckland’s development more broadly.

This research into the Auckland strategic planning documents that will form the building blocks of the new spatial plan, and their associated indicator sets, highlights deficiencies that are endemic in Auckland local government planning. These deficiencies include:

* the absence of integration in policy, strategy and implementation;
* the avoidance of accountable cause and effect approaches to planning and outcomes; and
* the impoverished engagement with stakeholders and the community.

This new research serves to confirm the long standing regional criticisms of ‘what is wrong with Auckland’ that are recorded in the body of the research document, and which include:

* Long term strategy needs: refined classification for Auckland’s centres, corridors and business areas, in order to provide greater certainty as to the location and sequencing of growth; strengthened alignment of land use, transport and economic development
* Implementation issues: difficulties in implementation; mis-located activities, responsibilities or decisions and a lack of regional control; slow plan changes that enable quality centres-based development; the lack of approaches to encourage quality intensification and redevelopment in centres and corridors
* Integrated planning gaps: Unclear or poorly defined roles, responsibilities or mandates; lack of alignment between national and regional priorities; the need to broaden the partnership around social objectives, at both the strategic planning level, and at the local implementation level (using place-based, master planning and ‘whole-of-government’ approaches)

Best practice spatial planning in Europe and Britain suggests a process that needs to be followed in Auckland to deliver the best planning framework for the future, but also to make a decisive break with Auckland’s bad planning habits of the past.

* Select the issues: Public process of identifying and defining a limited number of strategic issues; build public confidence through involvement and perception that the real issues are being addressed
* Develop long term plan: Take account of power structures (including land owners, businesses, local boards, central government); develop decision-making structures and processes (to enable implementation to happen); develop conflict solving processes and structures that enable and ensure action and implementation
* Build consensus: Ensure vertical integration in planning process through effective involvement of central government in regional decisions; ensure horizontal integration in planning process through effective involvement of local boards and local stakeholders in local decisions
* Sustainable development: Ensure compliance with four well-being principles of Local Government Act and public consultation requirements; address issues of social exclusion in decision-making; respect and emphasise priority of local place-making alongside regional development objectives

Modern spatial planning is about much more than a map of new infrastructure projects. It is about changing the way Auckland goes about implementing its strategic economic development plan. Unless these process changes are made in Auckland, then old problems will remain and history will repeat.

Auckland’s planning failure is an issue. It must be addressed. Such changes in process must become part of the spatial plan. As such these processes need their own indicators and their own measures of success.

The indicators that are adopted do not need to be perfect nor complete. Nor does the spatial plan. But it does need to include the issues to be addressed. It does not need to be comprehensive, but it does need to be integrated. And it needs to be based upon a set of indicators that are reasonable rather than perfect measures of the outcomes that spatial planning is designed to influence...."

Housing Affordability: Introduction and Research

Introduction:

I have been doing some research into housing affordability in Auckland. This is the first of a little cluster of blogs about this. You will find others following. Link to the full report is below, at the end of this blog.....

Research:

....While segments of the Auckland housing economy function more or less in accordance with freemarket rules of supply and demand, there are notable exceptions where some sort of intervention or regulation is required to correct failures in the housing market to address issues that arise.

Significant among these is the issue of affordability.

In its Auckland Regional Affordable Housing Strategy, the Auckland Regional Council (ARC, 2003), defined housing as affordable: “if households can access suitable and adequate housing by spending a maximum of 30% of their gross income.”

In its recent Auckland Regional Community Outcomes report, the Auckland Regional Council (ARC,2009), reporting against its “Proportion of households that spend more than 40% of net income on housing costs”, reported that:
In 2007, an estimated 21.7% of households in the Auckland region spend more than 40% of their net income on housing costs (this includes mortgage, rents and rates), significantly higher than the national count at 17%, and higher than the other selected regions on Waikato, Canterbury, and Wellington…. The overall proportion of net income spent on housing in Auckland households was 31.7%. When this is broken down by tenure, it appears that households who are renting carry a higher financial burden, with an estimated 45.8% of net income spent on housing compared to 23.6% for households who owned the home in which they lived. (ARC, 2009, Pg 28)

Affordability – measured in this way – is one of the issues that can arise in the housing market. Other issues, some of them associated with stress, can arise as a consequence of households attempting to make housing affordable by adapting homes to make them more affordable. Key among these issues is crowded housing: when too many people live in one home. In the Auckland Regional Community Outcomes report mentioned above, the Auckland Regional Council (ARC,2009), reported that:
At the 2006 census, 15.7% of the regional population was living in housing that required one or more additional bedrooms – a total of 190,017 people, of which 33.3% were children aged under 14 years… the proportion of people living in crowded households varies considerably across the region, and Manuku has the highest proportion. This is linked to the large Pacific population in Manukau city.

On the face of it, Auckland has a significant affordable housing problem.

A Housing Market Assessment which addresses the problem appropriately can be a useful tool in making related policy decisions. The DTZ HMA Manual was developed to present: “a framework for undertaking housing market assessments in New Zealand”. In relation to affordability and stress the manual recommends that:

Affordability / stress and estimates of housing need should be derived for the following groups:

- renter households;
- first home buyers; and
- owner occupier households (DTZ, 2009, pg 22)

The manual lists a number of measures of housing affordability and housing stress (caused by household costs being above particular thresholds). The manual suggests that housing need includes, at least: the number of financially stressed renter households; plus financially stressed owner occupied households; plus Housing New Zealand households.

The challenge is to find this information from existing data sources and available reports.

The approach taken in this research is to consider this challenge from a range of perspectives. Because DTZ’s advice for New Zealand has been drawn from the experience it has gained in the UK – where Housing Market Assessments are an established practice in certain parts of the country – we have first of all briefly explored a typical affordability tabulation prepared in the Cambridgeshire Region as a sort of exemplar. This includes an account of the innovative work conducted by Queenstown Lakes District Council in preparing an assessment of the need there for affordable housing for itinerant workers and new residents. (See Housing Affordability:Exemplary Practice blog)

The Housing Affordability: Auckland Report blog contains a summary of relevant data identified in other reports that have been prepared in relation to housing affordability in New Zealand.

And the Housing Affordability:Manukau City blog contains an assessment of housing affordability and stress in Manukau City.

The summary findings of this research:

While more work could be done in terms of producing reliable, location specific data quantifying affordability, it is evident from the reports that are available that New Zealand – and Auckland in particular – has a very serious housing affordability and stress problem.

It is equally clear that there are no serious and effectively funded policy initiatives in place – either at local, regional or national level to address the issue.

The key findings of this work are summarised below:

- Manukau City is home to more than 20,000 households living in housing that is not affordable (ie household expenditure on housing related costs is more than 40% of household income), with the greatest proportion of these living in homes rented from a private sector landlord;
- Manukau City will require 200 new affordable homes each year into the future to ensure that its affordable housing problem does not worsen, but there is no matching commitment from either Housing New Zealand or Manukau City Council to build these homes;
- At least 10% of all households occupied by Maori and Pacific Island Peoples are crowded, requiring 1 or 2 extra bedrooms to accommodate the occupants appropriately


The whole report (which contains tables and references and etc) can be downloaded from:
http://www.joelcayford.com/JoelCayfordHMAAucklandHousingAffordabilityandStress.pdf

Enjoy.

Housing Affordability: Exemplary Practice

Cambridge England

This section briefly describes exemplary strategic housing market assessments in practice in Cambridgeshire, UK. The purpose being to indicate the direction that Auckland Council could aspire to in its practice and process of carrying out Housing Market Assessments, and also to highlight good practice data and monitoring requirements.

Cambridgeshire’s housing market assessment activities are being carried out broadly in line with the guidance contained in Strategic Housing Market Assessments: Practice Guidance prepared by the UK Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) in August 2007 (UK, 2007).

Cambridgeshire’s experience in conducting and using Strategic Housing Market Assessments (SHMA) is helpful because it indicates the kinds of difficulties Auckland might encounter along the way with this process. Forewarned is forarmed. For example in the Identifying Housing Need section of its 2009 SHMA update, we find the following advice:


…the SHMA is designed to be built on and updated as time passes and information changes and improves. So this iteration is bound to change, adjust and improve as its foundation data does the same… the CLG Guidance is written as just that – guidance, rather than a detailed roadmap of how to do it. For example, some sources of data do not provide the detail or the cross-tabulations needed to work out the figures for a specific sub-region or district. For this reason we have supplemented secondary sources of information with our primary MRUK household survey where necessary, to try to provide a more realistic local picture of housing needed for our sub-region…

…we are still looking to evolve our approach, to investigate:

- more frequently updated sources of information
- ways to analyse data using mapping and GIS systems
- data systems to track changes in the housing market and in factors such as inflation, land prices and incomes (Cambridge, 2009, Chapter 27 Pg 2)

The outputs from Cambridgeshire’s SHMA include a section reporting on affordability by tenure and size, for each of the districts that make up the Cambridgeshire region. These outputs are based on data sources that have developed over time, and are presented in tabular form which provides for rapid cross comparison between different districts.

The full assessment report contains similar tabulations and analysis for each of the districts within the region, and these are then compared and cross tabulated to give a comprehensive regional picture of relative housing affordability, by tenure type.

Queenstown New Zealand

While it is interesting to understand and learn from what is happening in other countries in regard to measuring housing affordability and stress, there are also some interesting and effective SHMA initiatives being undertaken here in New Zealand – which use local data systems.

The Housing Our People in Our Environment (HOPE) strategy developed by Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) contains actions that the Council intends to take to address the issue of housing affordability in Queenstown. The purpose of the strategy is: “to help address the growing problem of people and households in the District not being able to rent or buy houses due to the growing gap between incomes and rental and mortgage costs..” (Queenstown, 2007)

Interestingly, one purpose of this SHMA work is to require that new developments in Queenstown contribute a specific quota of affordable homes as part any development, following an assessment of the likely demand for itinerant and other workers that the new development will cause. Thus a nexus is established between the new employment demands established by the development, and the need for the developer to take specified responsibilities regarding the provision of affordable housing that will be required by a proportion of those new employees.

QLDC retained the services of a consultancy – Rationale – to assist in assessing the current and future demand for affordable housing within the Queenstown Lakes District. The aims of the assessment include:

- district wide demand for affordable housing including existing and future demand;
- demand defined on a rental and ownership basis;
- demand projections on a catchment basis

The data, and assumptions used to prepare these assessments are broadly as follows, by each of several sub-areas of Queenstown District:

- a maximum of 30% of household income to be spent on housing
- the proportion of ‘owned’ to ‘non-owned’ homes (as in 2006 census)
- number of occupied houses in each sub-area over 10 years (from LTCCP)
- portion of home-ownership in each income bracket (as in 2006 census)
- income distribution of new arrivals (as in 2006 census)
- house price inflation rate drawn from MAC Property – 2007 Update
- tabulation of 1st Quartile house price Vs mortgage available over time provided by AMI

My understanding of the Rationale report indicates the following process details were broadly followed in the assessment:

- The proportion of owned/non-owned homes in Queenstown is approximately 40% (compared with 33% for the rest of NZ), and was assumed to remain constant throughout the assessment period;
- The number of occupied houses in each sub-area (lifted from the LTCCP) was effectively treated as a proxy for the growth of each area within Queenstown – and assumed to accommodate new arrivals to the district;
- The split between renters and buyers was assumed to stay the same as the 2006 census shows now;
- The ability of new buyers to buy the 1st quartile home took into account earnings inflation and housing price inflation, and the proportion of new arrivals to the District with sufficient capital to put down the necessary deposit (from 2006 Census data for households by income bracket with no mortgage)

This broad approach was applied. However there were a host of minor adjustments and detailed modelling ‘fixes’ agreed between Rationale and QLDC in the process. These were generally to deal with gaps in the data. This is an extraordinary initiative with lots to commend it.

Housing Affordability: Relevant Auckland Reports

There are a number of reports that address the issue of housing affordability in Auckland. This section considers some relevant findings. For example, a report prepared for the Social and Economic Research and Monitoring Team of the Auckland Regional Council in January 2008, which analysed various CHRANZ (Centre for Housing Research, Aotearoa New Zealand) housing reports prepared beween 2003 and 2007, notes:

While a number of articles have been prepared by CHRANZ on the theme of affordability, Housing Costs and Affordability in New Zealand by DTZ Research (2004) and Local Government and Affordable Housing by CRESA and Public Policy and Research (2007) are the only reports that have specific findings relevant to Auckland region. (ARC, 2008, pg 23)

In relation to affordability in Auckland, the report summarises the 2004 DTZ findings as follows:
…over the last fifteen years, affordability across a range of measures has declined in New Zealand and of all the regions, Auckland has experienced the greatest decline in affordability for both owner-occupied housing and rental tenure. Furthermore, Auckland has been seen to have the worst regional affordability since 1989. For example, in 2000/2001, 22.8% of households in Auckland spend more than 40% of their net income on housing related costs compared to the national average of only 14.8%….

These statistics support those reported in the introduction to this draft report. Of more immediate relevance to the present research though, are the recommendations for further research that is needed to address Auckland’s housing affordability issues. It is one thing to have overall regional statistics about affordability, but it is quite another to have locally specific data which can drive or enable policy initiatives to deal with those local issues. (Note the specific data obtained by Queenstown Lakes District Council previously reported in this research).

The future research needs that are identified in the report cover the issues of definition, measurement, causes, and solutions. The report notes that DTZ (2004) recommended three areas of research, which are summarised below:

- Affordability defintion and measurement – including the development of measures that can be used at local level and with key stakeholders, and which allow for in-depth analysis of trends in affordability and local variations in affordability;
- Barriers to accessing affordable housing – focussing on the five main barriers (regulatory, governmental, institutional, land values and other market factors);
- Potential solutions.

CRESA’s (Centre for Research Evaluation and Social Assessment) work followed in 2007. This involved a survey among local and regional authorities, and included an Auckland report. Of concern was the finding that: “few (councils) were aware of the relationship between their statutory, regulatory and planning responsibilities and impacts on housing affordability…” (ARC, 2008, pg 25)

The CRESA report concluded with a set of recommendations relating to the need for councils to take a more active role in addressing local issues of housing affordability.

These are set out in full here:
- The role of local and central government needs to be agreed and clarified with regard to the promotion and provision of affordable housing.
- Central government needs to take into account approaches used overseas and ensure legislation does not hinder councils from implementing effective tools.
- An agreement between local and central government regarding new approaches to fund vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities, young people and working families.
- Local and central government needs to adopt a new housing response by working together with community and private sector agencies and organisations.
- There needs to be commitment by central and local government to capacity and capability building.
- Councils need to develop a housing strategy and relevant policies and actions for population groups who are vulnerable to unaffordable housing, leveraging housing outcomes in the community and linking housing outcomes to transport, sustainability and infrastructure outcomes. (ARC, 2008, pg 25)

Among other organisations conducting research into the issue of housing affordability in Auckland and throughout New Zealand, one that stands out is the Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit of the Salvation Army. According to its website: “New Zealand needs to develop and implement policies to permanently improve its social climate and reduce social need….”. Two of its reports are used in this report’s Housing Affordability Assessment for Manukau City.

In 2008 the Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit of the Salvation Army produced Housing Update 2008. Its introduction states:
This brief report is intended to provide those people interested in housing issues with a statistical overview of housing markets in New Zealand. Such an overview is intended to provide a basis for discussion around the future direction of housing policy over the short to medium term. The data for this report is taken entirely from public sources but has been collected and analysed in such a way that we hope will provide some useful insights for future policy discussion. (Salvation Army, 2008)

Then in 2009 the Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit of the Salvation Army produced Into Troubled Waters: A State of the Nation Report. Its introduction states:
This report Into Troubled Waters is The Salvation Army’s second annual state of the nation
report. As with the first report, What Does It Profit Us? this report tracks New Zealand’s social progress through a series of indicators. These indicators are relevant to five topic areas, our children, crime and punishment, work and incomes, social hazards and housing. (Salvation Army, 2009)

Both reports provide useful data relating to housing affordability in Manukau City.

Housing Affordability: Manukau City

Statistics New Zealand provides these 2006 census housing data for Manukau City:

- the city had 95,118 occupied dwellings
- 51.8% of households own the dwelling they live in
- the average household size in Manukau City is 3.4 people, compared with an average of 2.7 people for all of New Zealand.

Applying the ARC’s analysis that 21.7% of households in the Auckland Region pay more than 40% of household income on housing (Introduction, above), then Manukau City is home to more than 20,000 households living in housing that is not affordable.

Figure 7.2 (see download version of this research report) is drawn from Statistics New Zealand Housing Affordability tables for the whole of New Zealand. This demonstrates a significant increase in the numbers of households in private rented accommodation deemed unaffordable. Contrast this with the same data trends for homes privately owned with a mortgage shown in Figure 7.3 (see download version).

Assuming this national picture applies in Manukau City, then it is reasonable to assert that the sharpest increase in affordability difficulties are being experienced by households that are renting privately.

Further information relating to how the housing market is responding in Auckland Region is contained in Into Troubled Waters a – “State Of The Nation Report” from The Salvation Army Social Policy & Parliamentary Unit which was prepared last year. This draws attention to changes in the numbers of houses being built, at a time when Auckland’s population growth is showing no signs of slowing. The report notes in particular:
The housing market appeared to have peaked in the third quarter of 2007 and it has been more or less down hill since then. Levels of building consents have fallen to a 30 year low of around 15,000 new dwelling consents for the year ended September 2008. The downturn is especially serious in Auckland where it appears that a housing shortage of 2500 has arisen over the past year because construction rates have not kept pace with population growth. Of this shortage around 1200 are in Manukau City alone….(Salvation Army, 2009, Pg 35)

The data analysis that led to these conclusions is available in another Salvation Army report Housing Update 2008: A Report On New Zealand Housing Markets, also by The Salvation Army Social Policy & Parliamentary Unit. This reports on undersupply and oversupply of housing based on Stats NZ Growth stats. In particular, it provides the following information in relation to Auckland’s major municipal areas.
Estimates for new dwellings required are based on the current growth path each city or district appears to be on (ie. Statistics NZ low-medium-high scenario) and the 2006 average household size for each city or district…. The Auckland region’s cities (North Shore, Waitakere Auckland and Manukau) will experience a growing housing shortage if current building rates (for the year ended September 2008) are maintained. This deficit is around 2,500 houses per year with North Shore City having a deficit of 500 houses annually, Waitakere City a deficit of 400 houses, Auckland City (400 houses) and Manukau City a deficit of over 1,200 houses annually on present trends. (Salvation Army, 2008, Pg 18)

Assuming 20% as a conservative estimate of the proportion of this housing shortage that would be needed to meet the needs of those on low incomes (based on the ARC’s implicit policy that no more than 40% of household income should need to be spent on housing, and its finding that 21.7% of households in Auckland are now spending in excess of that amount), then the annual shortage of new affordable housing in Manukau City for its growing population is about 250 homes.

NB: It should be noted that this figure relates to future housing needs and does not describe those families who are now living in conditions deemed unaffordable.

The question then becomes - how might this shortage be met?

Manukau City Council’s 2009-2019 Long Term Council Community Plan (LTCCP) sets out the Council’s own plans in regard to Council Housing.

The “Big Picture” section of the LTCCP sets out Council’s population projections as follows: 2006 (329,000), 2016 (417,000), 2026 (490,000) etc.

The “Housing for the Elderly” section of the LTCCP lists the locations and numbers of around 500 Council Homes that are provided in Manukau City by the Council. The Ten Year plan explicitly provides for the maintenance and renewals of these assets. However there is no policy to increase their numbers. (Manukau LTCCP 2009, Community Services, Pg 66)

It is difficult to discern the precise intentions of Government in regard to the provision of affordable housing in Manukau City through its agency Housing Corporation of New Zealand, however its intentions regarding the future of state housing numbers in the neighbouring area of Tamaki are clearly set out on the Frequently Asked Questions section of its website:
Will the numbers of Housing New Zealand homes be reduced?
Housing New Zealand Corporation currently owns 56 per cent of the state housing in Tamaki. While more houses will be built over time, the existing number of state houses is not going to change. This is a commitment by Housing New Zealand, through the Programme, to the Tamaki community. A greater mix of housing will be encouraged, including private ownership. (HNZC, 2009) (Emphasis added)

This gives effect to the general thrust of Government’s Housing policy which was established under the previous Labour Party led Government in 2005 (HNZC, 2005). The foreword of this strategy, entitled: “Building the Future: The New Housing Strategy”, includes these statements by the then Minister of Housing – Steven Maharey:
…while the state retains its long-standing role as the largest landlord in the country, most New Zealanders house themselves without government assistance. The Government remains committed to ensuring those on low or modest incomes or with special housing needs receive the help they require to find and stay in affordable, good quality housing…

…Housing is more than building houses: it is as much about building community as it is about people’s homes…

…The shift towards increased community-based housing, more affordable homeownership opportunities, and a mix of new housing reflecting community diversity is re-mapping our landscape…

…State houses have been an important feature of New Zealand housing since the late 1930s and will remain so. Increasingly, they will be alongside housing provided by other community partners. Housing choices and designs of the future will inevitably grow from what has gone before… (HNZC, 2005, Pg 2)

The language used here is the language of change and of choice. In respect of state housing in the absence of clear and strong commitment to continuity and expansion of provision, the language expressed in this foreword is equivocal at best.

If neither Housing New Zealand nor Manukau City Council are committed to matching the increasing affordable housing needs of a growing population, who will?

Then there is the matter of stress. As noted previously in this report, crowding, or over-crowding in a home can lead to social problems such as poor health (due to people living in close proximity), to learning difficulties (children being unable to find space to do homework), and conflict (one bathroom being shared among a number of adults for example). ....

The crowding problem among European households has halved from 5% of European households in 1987 to under 2.5% in 2004, while for Maori households it has only dropped marginally from 16% of all Maori households being crowded in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, to just over 10% in 2004. It is likely the same crowding issue applies to a similar proportion of households occupied by Pacific families also.

Research summarised in other parts of the report suggests that while some crowding may be attributable to the extended family culture of Pacific Peoples, it also stems from economic necessity – the more earners in one household the more affordable it becomes. Uncrowding today’s crowded Pacific family occupied houses may only result in an increase in the numbers of families living unaffordably.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Wynyard Quarter Commercial Pressure Shows


Up till now the ARC and the public have been enjoying some wonderful design work from the team of urban designers working for Sea + City on the public areas of Wynyard Quarter. Silo Park. North Wharf. Fantastic spaces.

But last week ARC councillors got a taste of what could be happening in the commercial spaces. We had a look at some draft drawings of Precinct 1. That's the area outlined in this image.


As you can see, the area of Precinct 1 includes the purplish residential buildings to the right with activated street edges in red (these are as they appear in Plan Change 4 - no surprises here). The dark blue are the fish industry and market Sanfords buildings. While the orange blocks fronting Jellicoe Street are likely to be for the ASB headquarter building.


Artist's depictions of that building have been published before today. I reproduce them here. These are on the footprint of the orange blocks in precinct 1.



Here's a closer picture of the orange blocks.

The details to look at include the blue floors (at levels 2 and 3), and the yellow section between the two orange blocks.



Here's those blocks again, looked at from ground level in those draft drawings. We were advised that the yellow blocked out area wasn't a roof - as such - - but could be. Could be an atrium. Could be skywalks between the blocks. And could also be car accessways - maybe even carparks in the levels 2 and 3. Because it turns out rhe blue levels are carparking. Could be sleeved at Jellicoe Street frontage. This was a concern. The residential blocks all have 2 levels of basement parking. Why doesn't this building? Question-mark?



The covered laneway was a big concern for me. This image here was one I made for the submission I presented to Plan Change 4 Commissioners. It shows the building envelopes that were allowed in the Plan Change, and how they make the Sanfords building look insignificant.

But they also show the laneway along the street between the taller building blocks.



In my submission I showed this picture illustrating how Auckland City does its laneways just up the road off Nelson Street. Great amenity don't you think? Activated edges. Great pedestrian amenity. Is this the sort of thing we want in Wynyard Quarter? I don't think so. And especially not a laneway that's turned into a tunnel.


Here's a good example of a laneway. It's from the Chancery development out onto a street in Auckland City. High quality and attractive pedestrian accessway, good edges, safe walking. We need this sort of attention to detail in the laneways fronting onto Jellicoe Street on Wynyard Quarter. And it would be appropriate for buildings there to have basement carparks. Its cheap and nasty to have them above ground, fronting to street, and forcing buildings to be higher as a consequence.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Has Auckland's Climate Changed?


Auckland's water situation
The time to save is now.
Total rainfall in the last four months has been the lowest in nearly 100 years of records in the Waitakere water supply catchments and the third lowest in nearly 50 years in the Hunua catchments. If this dry spell continues through winter, we could face restrictions next summer.

This information is from Watercare's website today.

Watercare states on its website that lake storage levels are at 55.45% of full.

I know that's low. I well remember the drought and water shortage of 1994. Perhaps Auckland should be taking this a bit more seriously.

Auckland Regional Council Parks staff tell me that this drought - the drought of 2010 - is more severe than the one in 1994. They speak of a drought that happened around 1978 (I was overseas then and did not experience it).

Parks staff have spoken of old Tairare (sp?) trees in the Wenderholm area - with metre girth trunks - that have yellowing leaves and will die now through prolonged lack of water. I am aware of street and cemetery trees in Devonport that have died toward the end of this summer.

Because I am a recreational fisherman, I am in the habit of checking the weather details in the back of the Herald. And as a regular cyclist to work at ARC have become a bit of a junkie for checking rainfall patterns and how accurate the weather forecast is. Generally, I would observe that the NZ Herald forecasts for Auckland and Northland (bach is at Mangawhai Heads) have been very reliable. Up until the end of 2009 that is.

But for most of January, February and even now, the Herald weather forecast for rain has been amazingly incorrect. I can recall that throughout the summer period the forecast for Auckland and Mangawhai was almost always for "rain coming in the next 48 hours". And there was never rain. It was so often forecast, but it never came. Never eventuated.

Like now. The forecast - both on TV and in NZ Herald - has been for rain all day and everyday this week in Auckland. Sure we had 8 mm yesterday (Wednesday), but nothing like the forecast.

These observations make me think that the models or forecasting methods that have been used happily by the Met Office (which supplies information to TVNZ and NZ Herald) till now, cna no longer be relied upon to predict the weather 2 or 3 days ahead any longer. Well. The forecasts have been notoriously incorrect for most of this year - when it comes to predicting rain. So that leads me to wonder what underlying pattern has changed, that is not being picked up by the Met Office. Don't know. Maybe it will all blow over....

Meanwhile I ask you to keep a watch on the rainfall information in NZ Herald. In particular, check out the "Average rainfall to date for 2010" and the actual "Rainfall to date for 2010", and keep an eye on it.

Ever since the end of January - pretty much - the ratio between Actual Rainfall/Average Rainfall has tracked at about 35%. In other words Auckland's rainfall is about a third of the annual average for the Auckland region.

Today's readings listed in the NZ Herald (from Met Office and NIWA) for the 2010 year so far:

Average rainfall = 347mm. Actual rainfall so far this year = 123.6 mm. Ratio = 35.6%

What is especially interesting about this ratio, is that Northland's rainfall ratios - even though Northland has been cited as an area of "severe drought" - have been consistently higher than Auckland's ratio. The data for Whangarei and Kaikohe show ratios of Actual/Average greater than 40%. Today - for example - Whangarei's ratio is at 46%, while Kaikohe's is at 65%.

Auckland has experienced a particularly severe drought for the whole of 2010 so far, which published weather forecasts have failed to foresee. So what has changed? Have weather patterns changed? What should we be doing about this in Auckland?

Transport Project Investment Economics

















Last year the Government abolished ARC's proposed Regional Fuel Tax, this year they propose to demolish Auckland local government. What next? And all it seems in the interests of leaving transport and development to market economics - pump-primed with roading projects.


A few weeks ago I made a presentation to the annual Conferenz Transport Summit. These slides are from it. The ideas in them about transport investment economics are readily available. Basically it's a cycle. Which should be a virtuous cycle. Tkaing this slide first: I accept that investment in a transport project kicks it all off. Whether it's a PT project or a roading project. These lead to an increase in transport capacity and changes in urban form. The 'top-line' benefits include travel time savings and improved safety.


Then there are the detail of the land use changes that come about from this change in transport. Land gets subdivided and developed after consents have been obtained. Building occurs. There is productivity around that and employment. And activities occur in those buildings. Other consumption. And other infrastructure services like electricity and water services not forgetting broad-band. This economic activity increases land value, and rents, should also improve value and amenity of local public places so areas become valuable and attractive...

But it's this next stage of economic development that is particularly important, and should not be ignored in the rush to kick start more transport projects. This is where long term economic development benefits kick in, through efficiencies of scale, agglomeration, clustering, and cost input reductions (like using less transport energy and less travel time).

And here's where the cycle should end, to kick start more investment. It's when those long term benefits are being realised, and when economic capacity has been used up, requiring more road or PT investment.

The first part of this cycle, I call the Infrastructure Construction Economy. This is the part of the cycle that is extolled above all other parts by NZ's Council for Infrastructure Development. I agree it is important, but it must not be seen as a stand-alone thing. The economic benefits last as long as the bulldozers are running and the concrete is being poured. And then they end.

The next part of the cycle is associated with the gold rush of new land being subdivided. It's the short-term development economy. It's why investors love buying land just outside Auckland's MUL (Metropolitan Urban Limit). Put in a new road (or state highway), and turn that rural land into urban gold. Sure there are economic benefits for the developers, but what about those new families and businesses that move in?


They only become more wealthy - and so does the whole country or region - when the long term economic benefits are realised. These stay locked inside urban developments that have not been able to fully develop: people need to travel long distances for most of their needs; businesses are remote from their supply chains; money is wasted moving people and things from 'A' to 'B'; opportunities are lost because there are few benefits from clustering and agglomeration.


Auckland needs to think inside the square.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Auckland Heritage Festival 2009 on Queens Wharf


The Auckland Heritage Festival, delivered by Auckland City Council, ran from 19 September to 4 October 2009. The two-week festival, comprising more than 100 events encompassing art, architecture, fashion, music, ecology and sociology, was a chance for Aucklanders to embrace and discover everything that is unique about their city. The year’s theme was living heritage – the customs, stories and traditions we keep alive today....


The opening of the festival was held on Queens Wharf - while it was still owned by Ports of Auckland.


A few characters brought Shed 10 back to life, as it was...


Welcomed the honourable guests...


Who came for the music and festivities...


...speeches about heritage, culture, Auckland, and the meaning of it all...

(That's Shadbolt in the background waiting his turn at the Microphone.)

...and outside the sliding doors modern Auckland looks on....


...as the music wound up...


...and other acts and music unfolded for those there in Shed 1o to celebrate Auckland's Heritage....


...over a few wines...


The news item ran: "A special opening event on Friday, 18 September – the anniversary of Auckland’s founding – kicks off this year’s Auckland Heritage Festival 2009. From 6.30pm, the public can head to Quay Street’s red fence and view a dramatic display of historical Auckland maritime footage projected onto the front of Shed 10, Queens Wharf...."

Didn't find a picture of what they projected onto Shed 10. Sounds fun!


It's a big space inside Shed 10 - easily accommodates a classic event like this...


Auckland City Council's Planning Manager John Duthie explains - as evening falls outside...


Shadbolt gets his chance at last, and outside, waiting to take people for a heritage ride is the Daldy.


As POAL's media release at the time reads: "Ports of Auckland is inviting Aucklanders to experience a ‘living’ part of the city’s maritime history through a series of free heritage tours during the upcoming Auckland Heritage Festival. This year, for the first time, the tours will be hosted on board the historic steam tugboat, the William C Daldy.“We are very excited to offer the Auckland public a chance to experience a part of their city’s history firsthand,” said Managing Director Jens Madsen.Built in 1935, the William C Daldy was one of the Auckland port’s first tug boats, and worked welcoming and departing ships on the Waitemata Harbour for more than 40 years.The hour-long, family-friendly tours will cruise through the commercial wharves, providing a close-up view of port operations. The trip will also include a special stop at the Auckland Harbour Bridge, where the William C Daldy proved its might salvaging a runaway piece of the bridge during its construction in 1958.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Rally New Zealand on Queens Wharf


These old gates will need to adjust to different sights now that Queens Wharf is open for all sorts of public uses...

... now that it's in public ownership as a people's wharf...

Rally New Zealand is a fairly unusual use. Some wonder - all those cars that used to be on the wharf when it was the place to land second hand cars from Japan. Now it's being used for another sort of car...

Rally cars and all the parts. Apparently some syndicates have enough parts on the wharf to replace their cars three times over...

Very colourful and interesting...


...if you like Rally Cars...


This one was very popular. The guys taking wheels on and off like there was no tomorrow...


And a green syndicate as well. Right at the end of the wharf...


Good to see Auckland has taken ownership of its old sheds and even branded them. Stamp of approval...


Even Shed 10 has its Auckland Plus brand...

And the Rally Cars surge to the starting point. All very festive...


And the gates look on...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Auckland's Spatial Plan requires big rethink

Introduction

The purpose of this blog is to encourage more analysis of Auckland's approach to strategic planning in general, and to call for a more public process in preparing a spatial plan. That is why I have spent months researching best practice spatial planning, and comparing that with what we have now as a starting point here in Auckland. You can download my first full draft of that research at the end of this blog.

But first, three introductory reads. The first two are extracts from submissions I made to the Royal Commission. These were my take on what Auckland needed to fix and improve.

The third is an introduction to the research I did.

Royal Commission Submission Extract 1

This submission is supported by case studies with which I am very familiar, and explanations of important procedures I believe should become central to Auckland planning such as Master Planning; the use of Development Agencies; and The Regional Development Plan. It also includes a couple of cautionary notes. The basis of my submission may be summarised as:

* implementation of the compact city region strategic vision is failing
* Auckland development needs to change direction if it is to become more sustainable, and more economically efficient
* regional planning needs to be strengthened, relevant infrastructure management centralised, and integrated implementation made more certain
* planning and implementation of urban regeneration projects requires a regional Urban Development Authority, and project specific Development Agencies to coordinate masterplanning and delivery
* achieving publicly agreed service outcomes should be the priority for service entities with mechanisms to avoid political extraction of profit from one service to cross-subsidise another
* community expectations and diversity need to be recognised through local involvement in local planning and local infrastructure projects
* the 1989 amalgamation delivered benefits which should be retained - if it ain’t broke don’t fix it
* bench-marking, accountability and transparency risk being lost through excessive
amalgamation of entities and integration of services
* ratepayers should receive one bill for their rates – prepared centrally
Auckland is not alone in re-assessing its future and wondering how to get there. Our urban region shares many of the same problems now being confronted around the world by Western cities whose development over the past forty years has largely been shaped by the automobile and by consensus support for that. This period and process of city development coincides with mass-production of consumer goods, mass consumption, wide-ranging belief in the infallibility of science, and strong middle-class support for traditional family values. This broad
consensus and associated prosperity encouraged central and regional governments to intervene strongly with supportive investment programs for infrastructure such as roading, water and energy projects. The Auckland Regional Authority (ARA) was a key part of this period in Auckland. It is said that: “the ARA built Auckland”. In fact the ARA built the airport, the modern port, and major water infratstructure, while the Ministry of Works built most of the motorway network.

Throughout this period Auckland expanded like there was no tomorrow. Its CBD was entirely reshaped by motorways. Greenfield development accelerated. The combination of urban expressways and urban sprawl made the car indispensable. While the 1973 oil crisis had an impact in Auckland, we quickly recovered from it, continuing as if it were business as usual. But it did mark the start of changing times. Sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll may have played a part, so might the Vietnam war – who knows – but this was a time when discontent began growing around the standardisation of products and lifestyles, questions began to be asked about whether progress was always a good thing, was the Western way of life the only way? did science truly legitimise infrastructure projects? and was serious environmental damage being done in the name of progress?

Here at home in Auckland, change over the last fifteen years has been marked by the availability of the best coffee in the world, world-beating local wines and cheeses, internationally recognised restaurants, cultural diversity that goes way beyond simple Maori/Pakeha bi-culturalism, Hollywood-class local cinema production, and lauded innovation in sports and internet science. But there have been barely any changes in Auckland’s urban form and patterns of development. Auckland’s urban progress is increasingly out of step with its cultural progress, and is inconsistent with growing popular demands for a clean environment and a smaller ecological
footprint. There is growing scepticism towards large-scale infrastructure projects – such as State Highway 20 – which also reflects the rise of environmentalism. At the same time we see the unravelling of the consensus that underpinned the construction of Auckland’s urban form today – with its motorway-oriented and pedestrian unfriendly character, and its casual destruction of older villages, heritage buildings and human scale urban landscapes.

Instead there is an explosion of diversity, of conflicting interest groups who increasingly criticise the progress once thought so necessary, and who today can be relied upon to challenge any and all projects – no matter what. They demand to be heard and insist their views be taken into account. These groups do not universally call for cyclelanes and public transport – there are many supporters for the completion of SH20. Nor is there universal support for the compact city ideal which is a key objective of urban change – leaky buildings and poor examples of medium and high density housing have been a major setback. And despite today’s fragile consensus among Auckland’s local authorities that the region does need to move toward a more compact urban form, much of the development we actually see on the ground continues to entrench the car’s domination and forces more low-density development.

Auckland’s destructive preoccupation with real estate speculation is currently on hold, but the lure of short term profit-taking from greenfield subdivision still persists. Strong and consistent leadership and appropriate incentives will be needed to encourage a more long-term approach to Auckland’s urban economic development. Another key change today is that there is less public money to deliver everything the public might want. Current funding sources include rates, development levies, and Government funding – especially for transport projects. If any entity is guilty of continuing to force road-driven urbanism onto Auckland, it is Central Government. Its steadfast 100% funding commitment to state highway construction, alongside its relatively feeble support for other modes and other forms of economic development intervention, is the single most potent incentive to maintain the status quo. Government needs to become a fully signed up partner to delivering compact city economic development outcomes in Auckland.

Various ad-hoc restructurings in the past two decades have left Auckland with a legacy of piece-meal institutional design which needs repair. Ports of Auckland Ltd has been allowed to narrow its activities down to being a high volume container port and become a cash cow for public transport projects while ferry terminals and other port activities decay under inconsistent management and control. Watercare Services Ltd, while exhibiting exemplary and determined behaviour in delivering core business outcomes, is being keenly eyed by shareholders wanting access to its cash-rich balance sheet. These are examples of incomplete reform which intended these services should be subject to market discipline – either through privatisation or competition.

My submission proposes concrete changes so that Auckland’s governance is a central, regional, district and community partnership that: delivers a more sustainable and economically efficient urban form; functions effectively and transparently within Auckland’s changing environment; reliably delivers development projects that are consistent with and increase confidence in the compact urban form idea; and that materially recognises the changing demands for local involvment and participation arising from the emergence of Auckland civil society and its diversity of expectations.....

Royal Commission Submission Extract 2

Restating the key points of my main submission: the main problems facing Auckland include that implementation of the compact city region strategic vision is failing; Auckland development needs to change direction if it is to become more sustainable and more economically efficient; regional planning needs to be strengthened, relevant infrastructure management centralised, and integrated implementation made more certain; and the planning and implementation of urban regeneration projects requires a regional Urban Development Authority, and project specific Development Agencies to coordinate masterplanning and delivery.

Some argue that there is not enough funding to implement the compact city vision, and that is the main cause of the problem. However, it is estimated that central government spent $14.4 billion in the Auckland region in the 2005 fiscal year (see ARC’s submission, 22 April 2008), and that local and regional council funding in the 06/07 financial year was $2.02 billion for operating revenue and $967 million on capital expenditure.

In addition, I note the delivery of several significant urban regeneration projects over the past few years: North Shore Busway, New Lynn Station, and Britomart. They could have been better - as I noted in my main submission - but these projects are evidence that changes are occurring in Auckland. But we can learn from them.

Central government has already indicated its interest in investing in Auckland. Its readiness to build a waterfront stadium is clear evidence of such intent. Its continuing financial support for motorway construction is further evidence, as is its support for the rail project - even though this is somewhat reluctant. Some argue that there is an “imbalance between mandate and financial capability” in Auckland, and that this problem must also be “fixed”. These arguments usually lead to support for a single large vertically integrated Greater Auckland Council of some kind, where there would be an obvious and structural link between rates, mandate and financial capability. One-stop-shops have that character.

But this argument ignores the real fact that - as the data above demonstrates - that central government investment in the region far exceeds local government investment. While much of that investment is for services such as health and education, a big chunk of it subsidises the work of Auckland’s TLAs and the ARC. For example the New Lynn undergrounded railway station project is receiving more than $100 million from central government - far more than half the capital cost. The North Shore Busway project was more than 75% funded by central government. While more than half the cost of the modernisation of Auckland’s railway will be paid for by central government. (I note here that there is major concern in Auckland at the proportion of subsidy for Wellington’s railway systems, compared with Auckland’s - but I also note the massive extent of central government support for Auckland state highway development compared with Wellington.)

Partnerships The Local Government Act 2002 provides new possibilities for local and regional councils to work in partnership with other institutions. These include central government, other councils, the private sector and communities and community organisations. It allows for public-private-partnerships, joint ventures, and other arrangements. One of the principles of the LGA is that a local authority should work collaboratively, and build relationships. Underpinning this principle is the recognition that to achieve the goal of sustainable development, relationships and partnerships will be the key.

Case study projects I have already described are examples of partnership approaches to projects. I have provided an account in my main submission about what worked well, and what could have worked better in those projects. It is important to recognise however, that in all cases, central government support and funding was essentially conditional on the quality and strength of the partnership (with all partners - business, land-owners, and local community groups), and on the credibility of the economic benefit analysis put forward in support of the project funding application.

While it might seem attractive to provide central government with a “one-stop-shop” desk in Auckland for its attention, when considering the merits of Auckland projects, such an approach ignores the imperative of obtaining local community buy-in and support of any such project, it ignores the need for land owners and business to engage with public authorities of scale and weight at city level (not regional level) and it ignores the LGA’s purpose which is to maximise public participation and involvement at the appropriate level.

Central government is increasingly interested in becoming constructively engaged with Auckland regeneration projects. It’s Auckland economic development office - GUEDO - is a manifestation of that, and GUEDO’s recent report looking at cruise ship facilities and Queens Wharf opportunities is a concrete example.

Historically, central government has been happy to pour money into state highways because: there is public support for roads; it has direct control over Transit - the country’s state highway authority; there is a trackrecord of public satisfaction with this infrastructure. Central government’s attachment to this “roads are for cars” agenda is also why local councils have found it relatively easy to win central government support (through Transfund and now Land Transport NZ) for a 50% subsidy for local roading and arterial projects if they are for general traffic.

However, that agenda is changing, and central government is increasingly, and understandeably nervous about changing its transport funding policies and priorities. Among the key arguments in persuading central government to support Auckland’s rail project was that all of Auckland’s TLAs supported the Regional Land Transport Strategy (no dissent), and because of the associated agglomeration benefits for the local economy. These latter benefits arise from the increased intensity of economic activity arising in and around urban centres transformed
by the presence of a high quality public transport service, and by the dynamism associated with an actively patronised station and other urban amenity.

However it is critical to note that the transformation of Auckland through better passenger transport systems, through compact town centre form, through Transit Oriented Design and Development, through Pedestrian Oriented Urban design and development - won’t happen if it’s merely seen as a regional strategy.

This transformation will occur town centre by town centre, commercial zone by commercial zone, and street by street. It will be a project by project transformation. At local level. And each project will need to be treated on its merits and according to on-the-ground specifics of the existing urban fabric, existing transport infrastructure, community hopes and aspirations, land owner expectations, heritage opportunities.....

Reforms call for Spatial Plan

The Royal Commission into Auckland’s governance recommended that Auckland needed a spatial plan. The present Government has adopted this recommendation and drafted legislation requiring that the new Auckland Council prepare a spatial plan for Auckland.

Government officials have considered ways and means for the spatial plan to be prescribed by legislation; and what the primary purpose of the spatial plan should be. Now Auckland Transition Agency staff and consultants are working away on drafting Auckland's new planning framework. I only know this because vague bits of information come across my desk at Auckland Regional Council from time to time.

But there is no formal consultation to speak of, or that I can report. I am vaguely aware that certain staff members and ex-staff members, and senior consultants have been engaged on this work. But their mandate is undefined as far as ARC councillors are concerned. Indeed as far as any elected representatives are concerned.

In my time as a councillor I have seen ideas like Comprehensive Management Plans, Structure Plans, Master Plans - and now Spatial Plans - come and go. Like planning fashions. And in each case the officials involved and sometimes politicians, shape those techniques and planning methods, so that nothing really changes.

Planning tool has different name, but does same job. Nothing changes.

That is why I have been driven to investigate spatial planning, to try and do what I can, to get the best for Auckland out of this new tool, and for it not be crushed into the square box of Auckland's previous bad habits and bad planning patterns.

The center-piece of my research was an investigation of performance measures and best practice indicators upon which the design and implementation measurement of a spatial plan depends. This work included a literature research into best practice spatial planning methods in European countries and related research into indicators and performance measures.

Measurement and monitoring plays a critical role in testing whether desired outcomes and objectives are being achieved. Measurable targets that relate to strategic objectives and outcomes also play an important role. These targets can relate to indicators or they may be relate to numbers from recorded data sets. My research analyses indicator collections that have been developed in Auckland, and tests them against best practice.

My research culminates in an analysis of the Auckland indicator frameworks and strategic planning documents that will form the starting point for a new spatial plan. This assessment compares Auckland with best practices identified in the research. Best practice clearly points toward a public process involving all stakeholders – rather than spatial plan preparation being a purely technocratic map-making process. Best practice also points to an approach where the design of the spatial plan is shaped by indicators and performance targets that transparently relate to Auckland issues citizens want addressed.

You will see a big area of analysis relates to integrated planning - vertical and horizontal. Another word for this - by the way - is partnership. Working together for common outcomes. But emphasising the community dimension. Local place making.

And perhaps I leave you with this thought, before you get to my research: Probably the major issue for Auckland is housing affordability. By that I mean housing poverty, and this is mainly about the high proportion of households spending 30% plus of household income housing a family in rented accommodation - publicly or privately provided. Housing costs - and related costs like transport because you live far from amenity and miles from good public transport, and related problems like over-crowding - is a major problem in Auckland. So I ask you: What is Auckland doing about it? How are relevant - and agreed - policies and solutions embedded in Auckland's existing strategic planning framework addressing this issue? This is the sort of issue that needs to be addressed head-on in Auckland's spatial plan.

Here's my research paper for you to download.

Feedback and suggestions appreciated. This is a draft.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Super City Reforms - Stirred but Unshaken

The Local Government (Auckland Law Reform) Bill that was reported back from the Auckland Governance Legislation Select Committee yesterday makes for an interesting - and long - read. There are 60 pages of explanation from the Select Committee - most of these pages are taken up with the "majority" view (of National and Act members presumably), while some are dedicated to the "minority" views of the Labour, Green and Maori Parties. And there are 320 pages of the Bill complete with cross-outs (deletions from the first draft) and new sections.

The majority recommendation introduction conveys the tone of the Select Committee's thinking:

"...In our consideration of the bill we faced the challenge of finding the appropriate balance between specifying in the legislation the details of the governance structure and allowing Auckland Council appropriate flexibility to decide its own structure and processes. In finding this balance we have been mindful of Auckland's long-standing difficulties in providing integrated governance of the region. We have tried to devise a governance structure and legislative framework that can help the region progress. We are confident the new Auckland Council will take up this challenge, that it will listen to and represent its many diverse communities, and that it will overcome factionalised interests and work for the good of all Aucklanders..."
The key words to note in the above introduction are: "appropriate balance" and "integrated governance of the region" and "overcome factionalised interests".

The Good Bits

There are some good bits in the Bill. The Select Committee did listen to the tonnage of submissions that were made to this Bill. But remember, this is the third bill. There have been two other Bills that more or less set the course for these reforms. I was one of many submitters who tackled the specifics of Bill 3, rather than the fundamentals of the Government's reforms of Auckland governance. The last few sentences of my submission were these:

"....Throughout the process of Auckland Governance reform I have expressed strong concerns about both the process and the direction of these reforms. For the purposes of this submission I have set aside my broader concerns, and concentrated on the specific provisions in the Bill which I submit need to change in order to deliver the Government’s stated purpose of the Bill, namely: “…to create one Auckland, which has strong regional governance, integrated decision making, greater community engagement and improved value for money…....”
(You can see my submission at: http://joelcayford.blogspot.com/2010/02/my-submission-on-auckland-supercity.html)

Many people and groups made submissions to the Bill with this caveat. We were trying to make the best out of a bad design. Trying to make a silk purse from a sow's ear. And there have been improvements made by the Select Ctte. To this sow's ear of a SuperCity governance structure.

These include:

* Auckland Council being able to hire and fire directors of any of the CCOs. (Though in my experience of CCO's and Council owned entities - which includes Watercare, ARTA, ARH, Sea + City, POAL - we have never actually fired a director. A few didn't get their terms renewed after 2 or 3 years service. The major effort is in the initial appointments.)

* Auckland Council NOT being able to appoint councillors as directors to CCO's - except it can appoint 2 councillors onto the Board of the Auckland Transport CCO. (I agree that if Auckland Council must have CCOs then governance becomes problematic if you have councillors on CCO boards. The reason Select Ctte accepts having councillors on the board of Auckland Transport is because of the amount of money spent by that CCO, and the need - therefore - for increased accountability. This is tacit acceptance of the lack of accountability that goes with any CCO structure).

* Auckland Council being able to appoint the Chair and Deputy Chair of all CCO's.

* The Select Ctte setting out a comprehensive example of the non-regulatory activities that it recommends Local Boards should be empowered to decide and determine. (I am inclined to accept the view that the Select Ctte did not have the expertise to decide in detail what Local Boards should and should not be enabled to have power over. However the Auckland Transition Agency - which has been empowered to make this call - will have its work cut out in making these jurisdictional allocations in time for would-be candidates to know what Local Boards will be tasked with after elections later this year.) It is also appropriate to set a minimum timeframe of 18 months after the election before Auckland Council can reduce any powers that are allocated to Local Boards by the ATA, noting also that at any time - subject to consultation -Auckland Council can delegate additional powers and responsibilities to Local Boards.

* included in the list of activities for Local Board are economic development activities related to town centre upgrades, and where those "affect the Auckland transport system" then the local board would need to "work with Auckland Transport". The interaction with Auckland Transport specified in this exemplar includes decisions about: "Local policy positions on draft statements of intent for CCO's" - which presumably include Auckland Transport. (These are significant roles. However they may just be proxies for consultation that may be ignored. ATA's work now becomes critical. That is what Auckland council will inherit on day 1 - and can be in place for at least 18 months.)

* new accountability policy power for Auckland council over its CCOs. "This policy would allow the Auckland Council to articulate more clearly its day-to-day accountability expectations regarding its substantive CCOs..." (By the way, note the Bill sets up TWO types of CCOs - substantive CCOs - including Auckland Transport - and smaller ones.) The accountability policy specifies Auckland Council's wants re: "CCOs contribution to, and alignment with, the Council's and the Government's objectives and priorities; planning requirements of Auckland Council; requirements that CCOs operate according to LGOIMA; management of strategic assets....". The ctte suggest this accountability policy goes into Auckland Council's LTCCP.

* the Select Ctte recommends a new clause (45/75A) requiring "all substantive CCOs to give effect to all relevant aspects of the Auckland Council's LTCCP and to act consistently with all relevant aspects of other strategies and plans of Auckland Council, including its local boards, as specified by the governing body..." (This is significant. It pust the onus on Auckland Council to adopt relevant strategies that will influence the decisions of CCOs.)

* the Select Ctte has dabbled a bit with the spatial plan provisions. More below about these. But what is interesting is that there is explicit inclusion of "social and cultural infrastructure", and a new section dealing with spatial plan implementation.

* there is also a new provision allowing Auckland Council to set the "rules" for each CCO, but these appear to largely relate to the constitution for each CCO, and appear to be more administrative. (For example I don't think a rule would be allowed for Auckland Transport's CCO constitution requiring its directors to give effect to the Regional Land Transport Strategy!)


The Media's handling so far

NZ Herald has fallen at the first hurdle on this. Their coverage headlined: "U-Turn" is a complete misrepresentation of what the Select Ctte has delivered. The Select Ctte has improved what is fundamentally flawed, but the reforms are resolutely in the same direction. And of course the incoming council will work hard to get the best out of these reforms. That is its duty. But talk about being handed some pretty poorly designed tools to get the job done.

Also the Herald's editorial suggested all was well and we can all wait happily till November 1. Well. The news is that the transition work has really only just got properly started. The ATA must allocate the jurisdictional responsibilities and decision-making responsibilities - along the lines suggested by the Select Committee - to each and every board in the next few months. And each one is different. Not to forget "diverse". Much focussing of media microscopes will continue to be needed to ensure the best outcome. No washing of hands just yet please.

Back to the fundamentals

What is really happening with transport? The Select Ctte's explanation is helpful. It recommends: "...inserting a new section 41(eb) to specify that Auckland Transport is also repsonsible for undertaking any functions or exercising any powers in relation to the management of the State Highway system that the New Zealand Transport Authority has delegated to it.... " It is also clear from briefing papers prior to the first version of this Bill that the purpose of the spatial plan (which was closely linked with the National Infrastructure Plan) was to ensure that Auckland would be ready to receive infrastructure projects that had been centrally planning and funded.

Now, under Select Ctte recommendations, the spatial plan is to include social and cultural infrastructure that is being funded by central government. That could mean schools or prisons. And normally that would be good and appropriate for Auckland planning if there was a fully integrated approach to planning here. But that is not what is proposed. The integration that is proposed and argued for is all about vertical integration. It is about Auckland Council decisions being integrated with central government infrastructure decisions. And that is where the government's ideas about integration begin and end.

The spatial plan and Auckland's governance structure could become tools for rolling out Government economic growth policies. Not only will there be reduced red tape for private sector developments, But potentially central government's development plans for Auckland are also to be smoothly rolled out, the way smoothed by a nationally driven spatial plan, delivered by a super Transport CCO, with a side-lined Auckland Council tut-tutting noisily but ineffectually.

We all need to remember the importance of local place-making in all of the argument and discussion that led to the Royal Commission. Those discussions recognised the importance of horizontal integration, as well as vertical integration. Yes there needed to be better integration between Council and central government, but yes, there also needed to be much more joined up thinking at local level around local place-making plans.

It is at local level that the most sustained and sustainable economic development can occur. It should be through local master plans that infrastructure needs are identified - including for local roads and new allocations of existing road space. That is also the level for good integrated decisions around land use, and land use changes, and transport. Let alone transport energy use.

I have much more to say about this. But in later blogs.

I will end this by drawing attention to the new provisions for spatial planning in the Bill:
66A. Development, adoption, and implementation of spatial plan.
(1) The Auckland Council must involve central government, infrastructure providers (including network utility operators), the communities of Auckland, the private sector, and other parties (as appropriate) throughout the preparation and development of the spatial plan.
....
(5) The Auckland Council must endeavour to secure and maintain the support and co-operation of central government, infrastructure providers (including network utility operators), the communities of Auckland, the private sector, and other parties (as appropriate) in the implementation of the spatial plan.
This includes most people, I guess, but not Local Boards explicitly - though they are part of Auckland council. But a key purpose, probably THE key purpose of the spatial plan is to:
(c) enable coherent and co-ordinated decision making by Auckland Council (as the spatial planning agency) and other parties to determine the future location and timing of critical infrastructure, services, and investment within Auckland in accordance with the strategy; and
(d) provide a basis for aligning the implementation plans, regulatory plans, and funding programmes of the Auckland Council
Despite the sprinkled inclusion by the Select Ctte of the four well-beings throughout its recommendations, it is hard to escape the conclusion that the broad quadruple bottom-line goals that informed the commencement of Auckland local government reforms have been transformed into a political restructuring that supports an economic growth oriented infrastructure program driven by central government.

The contest of ideas and ideologies that have led to Auckland governance reform will continue to influence its implementation. The proposed Spatial Plan could become a tool to be used solely to support a narrow economic growth program, or it could be used to assist Auckland’s economic development more broadly. But to do that it must be enabled to act locally, and to integrate horizontally, not just vertically to satisfy central government appetites for infrastructure led economic growth.

Best practice spatial planning in Europe and Britain suggests a process that needs to be followed in Auckland to deliver the best planning framework for the future, and also to make a decisive break with Auckland’s bad planning habits of the past.
* Select the issues: Public process of identifying and defining a limited number of strategic issues; build public confidence through involvement and perception that the real issues are being addressed

* Develop a long term plan: Take account of power structures (including land owners, businesses, local boards, central government); develop decision-making structures and processes (to enable implementation to happen); develop conflict solving processes and structures that enable and ensure action and implementation

* Build consensus: Ensure vertical integration in planning process through effective involvement of central government in regional decisions; ensure horizontal integration in planning process through effective involvement of local boards and local stakeholders in local decisions

* Sustainable development: Ensure compliance with four well-being principles of Local Government Act and public consultation requirements; address issues of social exclusion in decision-making; respect and emphasise priority of local place-making alongside regional development objectives

Modern spatial planning is about much more than a map of new infrastructure projects. It is also not about "overcoming factionalised interests" as the Select Ctte appears to want.

It is about changing the way Auckland goes about implementing its strategic economic development plan. Unless these process changes are made in Auckland, then old problems will remain and history will repeat.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Aucklands Weather - What's happening now?

In case you didn't notice it rained last week.

Over a 24 hours period on Thursday and Friday Auckland recorded 59mm of rain.

This brought its annual rainfall for the whole of 2010 so far to 197mm in total.

So, Auckland received about a third of its entire year's rainfall in one day.

That's a big rain.

Even so, Auckland has still only received about 50% of normal rainfall for this January - May period. And the storage lake's are showing the results.

Check out this page on Watercare's website: http://www.watercare.co.nz/watercare/water-supply/aucklands-water-situation/dam-levels.cfm

You can use it to enter the storage lakes and see how their storage levels have changed over the previous 7 days.

Lower Huia has gone from 55% full to 68%, due to that rain.
Lower Nihotupu has gone from 62% to 70%.
Upper Huia has increased from 53% to 78% of full.
Upper Nihotupu has increased from a low of 23% to 55% of full.
And the Waitakere Dam has gone from 33% to 60% of full.

That's a big increase in good pure, bush catchment collected, stored water.

Spatial Plan - Proposal Problems and Better Practice

Introduction

On Monday Auckland gets to find out how Bill 3 relating to new Auckland Governance structures has been changed after the Select Committee processes. This will include how the Government now considers how spatial plannning should be carried out by Auckland Council, and for what purpose. So we are all ears.

In the meantime my research into spatial planning has been conducted. This has emphasised looking at international best practice, and the use of indicators as a means of measuring how the implementation of the spatial plan is proceeding, as well as a means of getting stakeholder buy in and participation into the planning process itself. I will be putting up the whole of the research on this blog in the fulness of time. But I thought it timely to put up my research conclusions here. Now.....

Preliminary Research Conclusion

"....While there are many differences in detail, there is clear consensus across National Government, and Regional and Local government in Auckland, that Auckland needs a spatial plan. There also appears to be clear direction in law that the spatial plan should be consistent with the purposes of the Local Government Act which includes that:

….local authorities play a broad role in promoting the social, economic, environmental, and cultural well-being of their communities, taking a sustainable development approach.

However the contest of ideas and ideologies that have led to Auckland governance reform will continue to influence its implementation. The broad quadruple bottom-line goals that informed the commencement of Auckland local government reforms have been transformed into a political restructuring that supports an economic growth oriented infrastructure program driven by central government. The proposed Spatial Plan is a tool that could be used solely to support that program, or it could be used to assist Auckland’s development more broadly.

This research into the Auckland strategic planning documents that will form the building blocks of the new spatial plan, and their associated indicator sets, highlights deficiencies that are endemic in Auckland local government planning. These deficiencies include:

* the absence of integration in policy, strategy and implementation;
* the avoidance of accountable cause and effect approaches to planning and outcomes; and
* the impoverished engagement with stakeholders and the community.

This new research serves to confirm the long standing regional criticisms of ‘what is wrong with Auckland’ that are recorded in the body of the research document, and which include:

* Long term strategy needs: refined classification for Auckland’s centres, corridors and business areas, in order to provide greater certainty as to the location and sequencing of growth; strengthened alignment of land use, transport and economic development
* Implementation issues: difficulties in implementation; mis-located activities, responsibilities or decisions and a lack of regional control; slow plan changes that enable quality centres-based development; the lack of approaches to encourage quality intensification and redevelopment in centres and corridors
* Integrated planning gaps: Unclear or poorly defined roles, responsibilities or mandates; lack of alignment between national and regional priorities; the need to broaden the partnership around social objectives, at both the strategic planning level, and at the local implementation level (using place-based, master planning and ‘whole-of-government’ approaches)

Best practice spatial planning in Europe and Britain suggests a process that needs to be followed in Auckland to deliver the best planning framework for the future, but also to make a decisive break with Auckland’s bad planning habits of the past.

* Select the issues: Public process of identifying and defining a limited number of strategic issues; build public confidence through involvement and perception that the real issues are being addressed
* Develop long term plan: Take account of power structures (including land owners, businesses, local boards, central government); develop decision-making structures and processes (to enable implementation to happen); develop conflict solving processes and structures that enable and ensure action and implementation
* Build consensus: Ensure vertical integration in planning process through effective involvement of central government in regional decisions; ensure horizontal integration in planning process through effective involvement of local boards and local stakeholders in local decisions
* Sustainable development: Ensure compliance with four well-being principles of Local Government Act and public consultation requirements; address issues of social exclusion in decision-making; respect and emphasise priority of local place-making alongside regional development objectives

Modern spatial planning is about much more than a map of new infrastructure projects. It is about changing the way Auckland goes about implementing its strategic economic development plan. Unless these process changes are made in Auckland, then old problems will remain and history will repeat.

Auckland’s planning failure is an issue. It must be addressed. Such changes in process must become part of the spatial plan. As such these processes need their own indicators and their own measures of success.

The indicators that are adopted do not need to be perfect nor complete. Nor does the spatial plan. But it does need to include the issues to be addressed. It does not need to be comprehensive, but it does need to be integrated. And it needs to be based upon a set of indicators that are reasonable rather than perfect measures of the outcomes that spatial planning is designed to influence...."

Housing Affordability: Introduction and Research

Introduction:

I have been doing some research into housing affordability in Auckland. This is the first of a little cluster of blogs about this. You will find others following. Link to the full report is below, at the end of this blog.....

Research:

....While segments of the Auckland housing economy function more or less in accordance with freemarket rules of supply and demand, there are notable exceptions where some sort of intervention or regulation is required to correct failures in the housing market to address issues that arise.

Significant among these is the issue of affordability.

In its Auckland Regional Affordable Housing Strategy, the Auckland Regional Council (ARC, 2003), defined housing as affordable: “if households can access suitable and adequate housing by spending a maximum of 30% of their gross income.”

In its recent Auckland Regional Community Outcomes report, the Auckland Regional Council (ARC,2009), reporting against its “Proportion of households that spend more than 40% of net income on housing costs”, reported that:
In 2007, an estimated 21.7% of households in the Auckland region spend more than 40% of their net income on housing costs (this includes mortgage, rents and rates), significantly higher than the national count at 17%, and higher than the other selected regions on Waikato, Canterbury, and Wellington…. The overall proportion of net income spent on housing in Auckland households was 31.7%. When this is broken down by tenure, it appears that households who are renting carry a higher financial burden, with an estimated 45.8% of net income spent on housing compared to 23.6% for households who owned the home in which they lived. (ARC, 2009, Pg 28)

Affordability – measured in this way – is one of the issues that can arise in the housing market. Other issues, some of them associated with stress, can arise as a consequence of households attempting to make housing affordable by adapting homes to make them more affordable. Key among these issues is crowded housing: when too many people live in one home. In the Auckland Regional Community Outcomes report mentioned above, the Auckland Regional Council (ARC,2009), reported that:
At the 2006 census, 15.7% of the regional population was living in housing that required one or more additional bedrooms – a total of 190,017 people, of which 33.3% were children aged under 14 years… the proportion of people living in crowded households varies considerably across the region, and Manuku has the highest proportion. This is linked to the large Pacific population in Manukau city.

On the face of it, Auckland has a significant affordable housing problem.

A Housing Market Assessment which addresses the problem appropriately can be a useful tool in making related policy decisions. The DTZ HMA Manual was developed to present: “a framework for undertaking housing market assessments in New Zealand”. In relation to affordability and stress the manual recommends that:

Affordability / stress and estimates of housing need should be derived for the following groups:

- renter households;
- first home buyers; and
- owner occupier households (DTZ, 2009, pg 22)

The manual lists a number of measures of housing affordability and housing stress (caused by household costs being above particular thresholds). The manual suggests that housing need includes, at least: the number of financially stressed renter households; plus financially stressed owner occupied households; plus Housing New Zealand households.

The challenge is to find this information from existing data sources and available reports.

The approach taken in this research is to consider this challenge from a range of perspectives. Because DTZ’s advice for New Zealand has been drawn from the experience it has gained in the UK – where Housing Market Assessments are an established practice in certain parts of the country – we have first of all briefly explored a typical affordability tabulation prepared in the Cambridgeshire Region as a sort of exemplar. This includes an account of the innovative work conducted by Queenstown Lakes District Council in preparing an assessment of the need there for affordable housing for itinerant workers and new residents. (See Housing Affordability:Exemplary Practice blog)

The Housing Affordability: Auckland Report blog contains a summary of relevant data identified in other reports that have been prepared in relation to housing affordability in New Zealand.

And the Housing Affordability:Manukau City blog contains an assessment of housing affordability and stress in Manukau City.

The summary findings of this research:

While more work could be done in terms of producing reliable, location specific data quantifying affordability, it is evident from the reports that are available that New Zealand – and Auckland in particular – has a very serious housing affordability and stress problem.

It is equally clear that there are no serious and effectively funded policy initiatives in place – either at local, regional or national level to address the issue.

The key findings of this work are summarised below:

- Manukau City is home to more than 20,000 households living in housing that is not affordable (ie household expenditure on housing related costs is more than 40% of household income), with the greatest proportion of these living in homes rented from a private sector landlord;
- Manukau City will require 200 new affordable homes each year into the future to ensure that its affordable housing problem does not worsen, but there is no matching commitment from either Housing New Zealand or Manukau City Council to build these homes;
- At least 10% of all households occupied by Maori and Pacific Island Peoples are crowded, requiring 1 or 2 extra bedrooms to accommodate the occupants appropriately


The whole report (which contains tables and references and etc) can be downloaded from:
http://www.joelcayford.com/JoelCayfordHMAAucklandHousingAffordabilityandStress.pdf

Enjoy.

Housing Affordability: Exemplary Practice

Cambridge England

This section briefly describes exemplary strategic housing market assessments in practice in Cambridgeshire, UK. The purpose being to indicate the direction that Auckland Council could aspire to in its practice and process of carrying out Housing Market Assessments, and also to highlight good practice data and monitoring requirements.

Cambridgeshire’s housing market assessment activities are being carried out broadly in line with the guidance contained in Strategic Housing Market Assessments: Practice Guidance prepared by the UK Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) in August 2007 (UK, 2007).

Cambridgeshire’s experience in conducting and using Strategic Housing Market Assessments (SHMA) is helpful because it indicates the kinds of difficulties Auckland might encounter along the way with this process. Forewarned is forarmed. For example in the Identifying Housing Need section of its 2009 SHMA update, we find the following advice:


…the SHMA is designed to be built on and updated as time passes and information changes and improves. So this iteration is bound to change, adjust and improve as its foundation data does the same… the CLG Guidance is written as just that – guidance, rather than a detailed roadmap of how to do it. For example, some sources of data do not provide the detail or the cross-tabulations needed to work out the figures for a specific sub-region or district. For this reason we have supplemented secondary sources of information with our primary MRUK household survey where necessary, to try to provide a more realistic local picture of housing needed for our sub-region…

…we are still looking to evolve our approach, to investigate:

- more frequently updated sources of information
- ways to analyse data using mapping and GIS systems
- data systems to track changes in the housing market and in factors such as inflation, land prices and incomes (Cambridge, 2009, Chapter 27 Pg 2)

The outputs from Cambridgeshire’s SHMA include a section reporting on affordability by tenure and size, for each of the districts that make up the Cambridgeshire region. These outputs are based on data sources that have developed over time, and are presented in tabular form which provides for rapid cross comparison between different districts.

The full assessment report contains similar tabulations and analysis for each of the districts within the region, and these are then compared and cross tabulated to give a comprehensive regional picture of relative housing affordability, by tenure type.

Queenstown New Zealand

While it is interesting to understand and learn from what is happening in other countries in regard to measuring housing affordability and stress, there are also some interesting and effective SHMA initiatives being undertaken here in New Zealand – which use local data systems.

The Housing Our People in Our Environment (HOPE) strategy developed by Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) contains actions that the Council intends to take to address the issue of housing affordability in Queenstown. The purpose of the strategy is: “to help address the growing problem of people and households in the District not being able to rent or buy houses due to the growing gap between incomes and rental and mortgage costs..” (Queenstown, 2007)

Interestingly, one purpose of this SHMA work is to require that new developments in Queenstown contribute a specific quota of affordable homes as part any development, following an assessment of the likely demand for itinerant and other workers that the new development will cause. Thus a nexus is established between the new employment demands established by the development, and the need for the developer to take specified responsibilities regarding the provision of affordable housing that will be required by a proportion of those new employees.

QLDC retained the services of a consultancy – Rationale – to assist in assessing the current and future demand for affordable housing within the Queenstown Lakes District. The aims of the assessment include:

- district wide demand for affordable housing including existing and future demand;
- demand defined on a rental and ownership basis;
- demand projections on a catchment basis

The data, and assumptions used to prepare these assessments are broadly as follows, by each of several sub-areas of Queenstown District:

- a maximum of 30% of household income to be spent on housing
- the proportion of ‘owned’ to ‘non-owned’ homes (as in 2006 census)
- number of occupied houses in each sub-area over 10 years (from LTCCP)
- portion of home-ownership in each income bracket (as in 2006 census)
- income distribution of new arrivals (as in 2006 census)
- house price inflation rate drawn from MAC Property – 2007 Update
- tabulation of 1st Quartile house price Vs mortgage available over time provided by AMI

My understanding of the Rationale report indicates the following process details were broadly followed in the assessment:

- The proportion of owned/non-owned homes in Queenstown is approximately 40% (compared with 33% for the rest of NZ), and was assumed to remain constant throughout the assessment period;
- The number of occupied houses in each sub-area (lifted from the LTCCP) was effectively treated as a proxy for the growth of each area within Queenstown – and assumed to accommodate new arrivals to the district;
- The split between renters and buyers was assumed to stay the same as the 2006 census shows now;
- The ability of new buyers to buy the 1st quartile home took into account earnings inflation and housing price inflation, and the proportion of new arrivals to the District with sufficient capital to put down the necessary deposit (from 2006 Census data for households by income bracket with no mortgage)

This broad approach was applied. However there were a host of minor adjustments and detailed modelling ‘fixes’ agreed between Rationale and QLDC in the process. These were generally to deal with gaps in the data. This is an extraordinary initiative with lots to commend it.

Housing Affordability: Relevant Auckland Reports

There are a number of reports that address the issue of housing affordability in Auckland. This section considers some relevant findings. For example, a report prepared for the Social and Economic Research and Monitoring Team of the Auckland Regional Council in January 2008, which analysed various CHRANZ (Centre for Housing Research, Aotearoa New Zealand) housing reports prepared beween 2003 and 2007, notes:

While a number of articles have been prepared by CHRANZ on the theme of affordability, Housing Costs and Affordability in New Zealand by DTZ Research (2004) and Local Government and Affordable Housing by CRESA and Public Policy and Research (2007) are the only reports that have specific findings relevant to Auckland region. (ARC, 2008, pg 23)

In relation to affordability in Auckland, the report summarises the 2004 DTZ findings as follows:
…over the last fifteen years, affordability across a range of measures has declined in New Zealand and of all the regions, Auckland has experienced the greatest decline in affordability for both owner-occupied housing and rental tenure. Furthermore, Auckland has been seen to have the worst regional affordability since 1989. For example, in 2000/2001, 22.8% of households in Auckland spend more than 40% of their net income on housing related costs compared to the national average of only 14.8%….

These statistics support those reported in the introduction to this draft report. Of more immediate relevance to the present research though, are the recommendations for further research that is needed to address Auckland’s housing affordability issues. It is one thing to have overall regional statistics about affordability, but it is quite another to have locally specific data which can drive or enable policy initiatives to deal with those local issues. (Note the specific data obtained by Queenstown Lakes District Council previously reported in this research).

The future research needs that are identified in the report cover the issues of definition, measurement, causes, and solutions. The report notes that DTZ (2004) recommended three areas of research, which are summarised below:

- Affordability defintion and measurement – including the development of measures that can be used at local level and with key stakeholders, and which allow for in-depth analysis of trends in affordability and local variations in affordability;
- Barriers to accessing affordable housing – focussing on the five main barriers (regulatory, governmental, institutional, land values and other market factors);
- Potential solutions.

CRESA’s (Centre for Research Evaluation and Social Assessment) work followed in 2007. This involved a survey among local and regional authorities, and included an Auckland report. Of concern was the finding that: “few (councils) were aware of the relationship between their statutory, regulatory and planning responsibilities and impacts on housing affordability…” (ARC, 2008, pg 25)

The CRESA report concluded with a set of recommendations relating to the need for councils to take a more active role in addressing local issues of housing affordability.

These are set out in full here:
- The role of local and central government needs to be agreed and clarified with regard to the promotion and provision of affordable housing.
- Central government needs to take into account approaches used overseas and ensure legislation does not hinder councils from implementing effective tools.
- An agreement between local and central government regarding new approaches to fund vulnerable groups such as people with disabilities, young people and working families.
- Local and central government needs to adopt a new housing response by working together with community and private sector agencies and organisations.
- There needs to be commitment by central and local government to capacity and capability building.
- Councils need to develop a housing strategy and relevant policies and actions for population groups who are vulnerable to unaffordable housing, leveraging housing outcomes in the community and linking housing outcomes to transport, sustainability and infrastructure outcomes. (ARC, 2008, pg 25)

Among other organisations conducting research into the issue of housing affordability in Auckland and throughout New Zealand, one that stands out is the Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit of the Salvation Army. According to its website: “New Zealand needs to develop and implement policies to permanently improve its social climate and reduce social need….”. Two of its reports are used in this report’s Housing Affordability Assessment for Manukau City.

In 2008 the Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit of the Salvation Army produced Housing Update 2008. Its introduction states:
This brief report is intended to provide those people interested in housing issues with a statistical overview of housing markets in New Zealand. Such an overview is intended to provide a basis for discussion around the future direction of housing policy over the short to medium term. The data for this report is taken entirely from public sources but has been collected and analysed in such a way that we hope will provide some useful insights for future policy discussion. (Salvation Army, 2008)

Then in 2009 the Social Policy and Parliamentary Unit of the Salvation Army produced Into Troubled Waters: A State of the Nation Report. Its introduction states:
This report Into Troubled Waters is The Salvation Army’s second annual state of the nation
report. As with the first report, What Does It Profit Us? this report tracks New Zealand’s social progress through a series of indicators. These indicators are relevant to five topic areas, our children, crime and punishment, work and incomes, social hazards and housing. (Salvation Army, 2009)

Both reports provide useful data relating to housing affordability in Manukau City.

Housing Affordability: Manukau City

Statistics New Zealand provides these 2006 census housing data for Manukau City:

- the city had 95,118 occupied dwellings
- 51.8% of households own the dwelling they live in
- the average household size in Manukau City is 3.4 people, compared with an average of 2.7 people for all of New Zealand.

Applying the ARC’s analysis that 21.7% of households in the Auckland Region pay more than 40% of household income on housing (Introduction, above), then Manukau City is home to more than 20,000 households living in housing that is not affordable.

Figure 7.2 (see download version of this research report) is drawn from Statistics New Zealand Housing Affordability tables for the whole of New Zealand. This demonstrates a significant increase in the numbers of households in private rented accommodation deemed unaffordable. Contrast this with the same data trends for homes privately owned with a mortgage shown in Figure 7.3 (see download version).

Assuming this national picture applies in Manukau City, then it is reasonable to assert that the sharpest increase in affordability difficulties are being experienced by households that are renting privately.

Further information relating to how the housing market is responding in Auckland Region is contained in Into Troubled Waters a – “State Of The Nation Report” from The Salvation Army Social Policy & Parliamentary Unit which was prepared last year. This draws attention to changes in the numbers of houses being built, at a time when Auckland’s population growth is showing no signs of slowing. The report notes in particular:
The housing market appeared to have peaked in the third quarter of 2007 and it has been more or less down hill since then. Levels of building consents have fallen to a 30 year low of around 15,000 new dwelling consents for the year ended September 2008. The downturn is especially serious in Auckland where it appears that a housing shortage of 2500 has arisen over the past year because construction rates have not kept pace with population growth. Of this shortage around 1200 are in Manukau City alone….(Salvation Army, 2009, Pg 35)

The data analysis that led to these conclusions is available in another Salvation Army report Housing Update 2008: A Report On New Zealand Housing Markets, also by The Salvation Army Social Policy & Parliamentary Unit. This reports on undersupply and oversupply of housing based on Stats NZ Growth stats. In particular, it provides the following information in relation to Auckland’s major municipal areas.
Estimates for new dwellings required are based on the current growth path each city or district appears to be on (ie. Statistics NZ low-medium-high scenario) and the 2006 average household size for each city or district…. The Auckland region’s cities (North Shore, Waitakere Auckland and Manukau) will experience a growing housing shortage if current building rates (for the year ended September 2008) are maintained. This deficit is around 2,500 houses per year with North Shore City having a deficit of 500 houses annually, Waitakere City a deficit of 400 houses, Auckland City (400 houses) and Manukau City a deficit of over 1,200 houses annually on present trends. (Salvation Army, 2008, Pg 18)

Assuming 20% as a conservative estimate of the proportion of this housing shortage that would be needed to meet the needs of those on low incomes (based on the ARC’s implicit policy that no more than 40% of household income should need to be spent on housing, and its finding that 21.7% of households in Auckland are now spending in excess of that amount), then the annual shortage of new affordable housing in Manukau City for its growing population is about 250 homes.

NB: It should be noted that this figure relates to future housing needs and does not describe those families who are now living in conditions deemed unaffordable.

The question then becomes - how might this shortage be met?

Manukau City Council’s 2009-2019 Long Term Council Community Plan (LTCCP) sets out the Council’s own plans in regard to Council Housing.

The “Big Picture” section of the LTCCP sets out Council’s population projections as follows: 2006 (329,000), 2016 (417,000), 2026 (490,000) etc.

The “Housing for the Elderly” section of the LTCCP lists the locations and numbers of around 500 Council Homes that are provided in Manukau City by the Council. The Ten Year plan explicitly provides for the maintenance and renewals of these assets. However there is no policy to increase their numbers. (Manukau LTCCP 2009, Community Services, Pg 66)

It is difficult to discern the precise intentions of Government in regard to the provision of affordable housing in Manukau City through its agency Housing Corporation of New Zealand, however its intentions regarding the future of state housing numbers in the neighbouring area of Tamaki are clearly set out on the Frequently Asked Questions section of its website:
Will the numbers of Housing New Zealand homes be reduced?
Housing New Zealand Corporation currently owns 56 per cent of the state housing in Tamaki. While more houses will be built over time, the existing number of state houses is not going to change. This is a commitment by Housing New Zealand, through the Programme, to the Tamaki community. A greater mix of housing will be encouraged, including private ownership. (HNZC, 2009) (Emphasis added)

This gives effect to the general thrust of Government’s Housing policy which was established under the previous Labour Party led Government in 2005 (HNZC, 2005). The foreword of this strategy, entitled: “Building the Future: The New Housing Strategy”, includes these statements by the then Minister of Housing – Steven Maharey:
…while the state retains its long-standing role as the largest landlord in the country, most New Zealanders house themselves without government assistance. The Government remains committed to ensuring those on low or modest incomes or with special housing needs receive the help they require to find and stay in affordable, good quality housing…

…Housing is more than building houses: it is as much about building community as it is about people’s homes…

…The shift towards increased community-based housing, more affordable homeownership opportunities, and a mix of new housing reflecting community diversity is re-mapping our landscape…

…State houses have been an important feature of New Zealand housing since the late 1930s and will remain so. Increasingly, they will be alongside housing provided by other community partners. Housing choices and designs of the future will inevitably grow from what has gone before… (HNZC, 2005, Pg 2)

The language used here is the language of change and of choice. In respect of state housing in the absence of clear and strong commitment to continuity and expansion of provision, the language expressed in this foreword is equivocal at best.

If neither Housing New Zealand nor Manukau City Council are committed to matching the increasing affordable housing needs of a growing population, who will?

Then there is the matter of stress. As noted previously in this report, crowding, or over-crowding in a home can lead to social problems such as poor health (due to people living in close proximity), to learning difficulties (children being unable to find space to do homework), and conflict (one bathroom being shared among a number of adults for example). ....

The crowding problem among European households has halved from 5% of European households in 1987 to under 2.5% in 2004, while for Maori households it has only dropped marginally from 16% of all Maori households being crowded in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, to just over 10% in 2004. It is likely the same crowding issue applies to a similar proportion of households occupied by Pacific families also.

Research summarised in other parts of the report suggests that while some crowding may be attributable to the extended family culture of Pacific Peoples, it also stems from economic necessity – the more earners in one household the more affordable it becomes. Uncrowding today’s crowded Pacific family occupied houses may only result in an increase in the numbers of families living unaffordably.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Wynyard Quarter Commercial Pressure Shows


Up till now the ARC and the public have been enjoying some wonderful design work from the team of urban designers working for Sea + City on the public areas of Wynyard Quarter. Silo Park. North Wharf. Fantastic spaces.

But last week ARC councillors got a taste of what could be happening in the commercial spaces. We had a look at some draft drawings of Precinct 1. That's the area outlined in this image.


As you can see, the area of Precinct 1 includes the purplish residential buildings to the right with activated street edges in red (these are as they appear in Plan Change 4 - no surprises here). The dark blue are the fish industry and market Sanfords buildings. While the orange blocks fronting Jellicoe Street are likely to be for the ASB headquarter building.


Artist's depictions of that building have been published before today. I reproduce them here. These are on the footprint of the orange blocks in precinct 1.



Here's a closer picture of the orange blocks.

The details to look at include the blue floors (at levels 2 and 3), and the yellow section between the two orange blocks.



Here's those blocks again, looked at from ground level in those draft drawings. We were advised that the yellow blocked out area wasn't a roof - as such - - but could be. Could be an atrium. Could be skywalks between the blocks. And could also be car accessways - maybe even carparks in the levels 2 and 3. Because it turns out rhe blue levels are carparking. Could be sleeved at Jellicoe Street frontage. This was a concern. The residential blocks all have 2 levels of basement parking. Why doesn't this building? Question-mark?



The covered laneway was a big concern for me. This image here was one I made for the submission I presented to Plan Change 4 Commissioners. It shows the building envelopes that were allowed in the Plan Change, and how they make the Sanfords building look insignificant.

But they also show the laneway along the street between the taller building blocks.



In my submission I showed this picture illustrating how Auckland City does its laneways just up the road off Nelson Street. Great amenity don't you think? Activated edges. Great pedestrian amenity. Is this the sort of thing we want in Wynyard Quarter? I don't think so. And especially not a laneway that's turned into a tunnel.


Here's a good example of a laneway. It's from the Chancery development out onto a street in Auckland City. High quality and attractive pedestrian accessway, good edges, safe walking. We need this sort of attention to detail in the laneways fronting onto Jellicoe Street on Wynyard Quarter. And it would be appropriate for buildings there to have basement carparks. Its cheap and nasty to have them above ground, fronting to street, and forcing buildings to be higher as a consequence.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Has Auckland's Climate Changed?


Auckland's water situation
The time to save is now.
Total rainfall in the last four months has been the lowest in nearly 100 years of records in the Waitakere water supply catchments and the third lowest in nearly 50 years in the Hunua catchments. If this dry spell continues through winter, we could face restrictions next summer.

This information is from Watercare's website today.

Watercare states on its website that lake storage levels are at 55.45% of full.

I know that's low. I well remember the drought and water shortage of 1994. Perhaps Auckland should be taking this a bit more seriously.

Auckland Regional Council Parks staff tell me that this drought - the drought of 2010 - is more severe than the one in 1994. They speak of a drought that happened around 1978 (I was overseas then and did not experience it).

Parks staff have spoken of old Tairare (sp?) trees in the Wenderholm area - with metre girth trunks - that have yellowing leaves and will die now through prolonged lack of water. I am aware of street and cemetery trees in Devonport that have died toward the end of this summer.

Because I am a recreational fisherman, I am in the habit of checking the weather details in the back of the Herald. And as a regular cyclist to work at ARC have become a bit of a junkie for checking rainfall patterns and how accurate the weather forecast is. Generally, I would observe that the NZ Herald forecasts for Auckland and Northland (bach is at Mangawhai Heads) have been very reliable. Up until the end of 2009 that is.

But for most of January, February and even now, the Herald weather forecast for rain has been amazingly incorrect. I can recall that throughout the summer period the forecast for Auckland and Mangawhai was almost always for "rain coming in the next 48 hours". And there was never rain. It was so often forecast, but it never came. Never eventuated.

Like now. The forecast - both on TV and in NZ Herald - has been for rain all day and everyday this week in Auckland. Sure we had 8 mm yesterday (Wednesday), but nothing like the forecast.

These observations make me think that the models or forecasting methods that have been used happily by the Met Office (which supplies information to TVNZ and NZ Herald) till now, cna no longer be relied upon to predict the weather 2 or 3 days ahead any longer. Well. The forecasts have been notoriously incorrect for most of this year - when it comes to predicting rain. So that leads me to wonder what underlying pattern has changed, that is not being picked up by the Met Office. Don't know. Maybe it will all blow over....

Meanwhile I ask you to keep a watch on the rainfall information in NZ Herald. In particular, check out the "Average rainfall to date for 2010" and the actual "Rainfall to date for 2010", and keep an eye on it.

Ever since the end of January - pretty much - the ratio between Actual Rainfall/Average Rainfall has tracked at about 35%. In other words Auckland's rainfall is about a third of the annual average for the Auckland region.

Today's readings listed in the NZ Herald (from Met Office and NIWA) for the 2010 year so far:

Average rainfall = 347mm. Actual rainfall so far this year = 123.6 mm. Ratio = 35.6%

What is especially interesting about this ratio, is that Northland's rainfall ratios - even though Northland has been cited as an area of "severe drought" - have been consistently higher than Auckland's ratio. The data for Whangarei and Kaikohe show ratios of Actual/Average greater than 40%. Today - for example - Whangarei's ratio is at 46%, while Kaikohe's is at 65%.

Auckland has experienced a particularly severe drought for the whole of 2010 so far, which published weather forecasts have failed to foresee. So what has changed? Have weather patterns changed? What should we be doing about this in Auckland?

Transport Project Investment Economics

















Last year the Government abolished ARC's proposed Regional Fuel Tax, this year they propose to demolish Auckland local government. What next? And all it seems in the interests of leaving transport and development to market economics - pump-primed with roading projects.


A few weeks ago I made a presentation to the annual Conferenz Transport Summit. These slides are from it. The ideas in them about transport investment economics are readily available. Basically it's a cycle. Which should be a virtuous cycle. Tkaing this slide first: I accept that investment in a transport project kicks it all off. Whether it's a PT project or a roading project. These lead to an increase in transport capacity and changes in urban form. The 'top-line' benefits include travel time savings and improved safety.


Then there are the detail of the land use changes that come about from this change in transport. Land gets subdivided and developed after consents have been obtained. Building occurs. There is productivity around that and employment. And activities occur in those buildings. Other consumption. And other infrastructure services like electricity and water services not forgetting broad-band. This economic activity increases land value, and rents, should also improve value and amenity of local public places so areas become valuable and attractive...

But it's this next stage of economic development that is particularly important, and should not be ignored in the rush to kick start more transport projects. This is where long term economic development benefits kick in, through efficiencies of scale, agglomeration, clustering, and cost input reductions (like using less transport energy and less travel time).

And here's where the cycle should end, to kick start more investment. It's when those long term benefits are being realised, and when economic capacity has been used up, requiring more road or PT investment.

The first part of this cycle, I call the Infrastructure Construction Economy. This is the part of the cycle that is extolled above all other parts by NZ's Council for Infrastructure Development. I agree it is important, but it must not be seen as a stand-alone thing. The economic benefits last as long as the bulldozers are running and the concrete is being poured. And then they end.

The next part of the cycle is associated with the gold rush of new land being subdivided. It's the short-term development economy. It's why investors love buying land just outside Auckland's MUL (Metropolitan Urban Limit). Put in a new road (or state highway), and turn that rural land into urban gold. Sure there are economic benefits for the developers, but what about those new families and businesses that move in?


They only become more wealthy - and so does the whole country or region - when the long term economic benefits are realised. These stay locked inside urban developments that have not been able to fully develop: people need to travel long distances for most of their needs; businesses are remote from their supply chains; money is wasted moving people and things from 'A' to 'B'; opportunities are lost because there are few benefits from clustering and agglomeration.


Auckland needs to think inside the square.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Auckland Heritage Festival 2009 on Queens Wharf


The Auckland Heritage Festival, delivered by Auckland City Council, ran from 19 September to 4 October 2009. The two-week festival, comprising more than 100 events encompassing art, architecture, fashion, music, ecology and sociology, was a chance for Aucklanders to embrace and discover everything that is unique about their city. The year’s theme was living heritage – the customs, stories and traditions we keep alive today....


The opening of the festival was held on Queens Wharf - while it was still owned by Ports of Auckland.


A few characters brought Shed 10 back to life, as it was...


Welcomed the honourable guests...


Who came for the music and festivities...


...speeches about heritage, culture, Auckland, and the meaning of it all...

(That's Shadbolt in the background waiting his turn at the Microphone.)

...and outside the sliding doors modern Auckland looks on....


...as the music wound up...


...and other acts and music unfolded for those there in Shed 1o to celebrate Auckland's Heritage....


...over a few wines...


The news item ran: "A special opening event on Friday, 18 September – the anniversary of Auckland’s founding – kicks off this year’s Auckland Heritage Festival 2009. From 6.30pm, the public can head to Quay Street’s red fence and view a dramatic display of historical Auckland maritime footage projected onto the front of Shed 10, Queens Wharf...."

Didn't find a picture of what they projected onto Shed 10. Sounds fun!


It's a big space inside Shed 10 - easily accommodates a classic event like this...


Auckland City Council's Planning Manager John Duthie explains - as evening falls outside...


Shadbolt gets his chance at last, and outside, waiting to take people for a heritage ride is the Daldy.


As POAL's media release at the time reads: "Ports of Auckland is inviting Aucklanders to experience a ‘living’ part of the city’s maritime history through a series of free heritage tours during the upcoming Auckland Heritage Festival. This year, for the first time, the tours will be hosted on board the historic steam tugboat, the William C Daldy.“We are very excited to offer the Auckland public a chance to experience a part of their city’s history firsthand,” said Managing Director Jens Madsen.Built in 1935, the William C Daldy was one of the Auckland port’s first tug boats, and worked welcoming and departing ships on the Waitemata Harbour for more than 40 years.The hour-long, family-friendly tours will cruise through the commercial wharves, providing a close-up view of port operations. The trip will also include a special stop at the Auckland Harbour Bridge, where the William C Daldy proved its might salvaging a runaway piece of the bridge during its construction in 1958.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Rally New Zealand on Queens Wharf


These old gates will need to adjust to different sights now that Queens Wharf is open for all sorts of public uses...

... now that it's in public ownership as a people's wharf...

Rally New Zealand is a fairly unusual use. Some wonder - all those cars that used to be on the wharf when it was the place to land second hand cars from Japan. Now it's being used for another sort of car...

Rally cars and all the parts. Apparently some syndicates have enough parts on the wharf to replace their cars three times over...

Very colourful and interesting...


...if you like Rally Cars...


This one was very popular. The guys taking wheels on and off like there was no tomorrow...


And a green syndicate as well. Right at the end of the wharf...


Good to see Auckland has taken ownership of its old sheds and even branded them. Stamp of approval...


Even Shed 10 has its Auckland Plus brand...

And the Rally Cars surge to the starting point. All very festive...


And the gates look on...