Monday, March 28, 2011
Owen McShane: Auckland Spatial Plan
The Government legislation that created the Auckland Council included a requirement for an “evidence-based” Spatial Plan as a general planning framework for the region to be governed by the new Auckland Council. Government has recently presented a set of position papers establishing its preferences for an approach based on rigorous analysis of existing patterns and trends rather than utopian and coercive visions. The position papers flag the reasonable position that Government will not ask the taxpayers to fund major projects focused on the Auckland CBD unless they are supported by rigorous analysis, including costs and benefits.
The Council has today published its own discussion documents – Auckland Unleashed – and it seems New Zealand may be entertained or mortified by a long battle between two opposing attitudes towards developing an appropriate “spatial plan”.
The Government has the whip hand insofar as the Council hopes the taxpayers will fund many of the visionaries’ bills. Those who are asked to pay the piper can reasonably expect to call the tune.
On the other hand, over the past few decades, the ARC and its Smart Growth friends have had the advantage of enthusiastic support from the news media, and a host of commentators and influence brokers, who have backed these Smart Growth utopian visions with unalloyed enthusiasm. Our local regional governments and advisors have been slavishly following the patterns already established in a multitude of cities and regions in the New World.
However, over the last few years these Dense Thinking coercive policies have delivered their inevitable downside and the costs have come home to roost.
The recent collapse in the property and finance markets has certainly generated some second thoughts within the New Zealand Herald. Recent editorials, and columns by informed commentators such as Fran O'Sullivan, are raising questions, and challenging assumptions that should have been asked and challenged in the past.
The Herald has even recognised that people's responses to surveys often indicate what those surveyed believe other people should do, rather than reflecting their own real-world choices or preferences. Much of the public support for public transport reflects a desire for other people to ride on trains to free up the roads for their own convenience.
So before the “discussion” gets underway we should all insist that the policy makers and planners open their conversations with questions asking “How and where do you want to live?” rather than “How and where do you want everyone else to live?”
The Council's discussion document is here:
at 12:29 AM