Monday, March 28, 2011

Owen McShane: Auckland Spatial Plan

The battle lines are being drawn.

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:


Linda Reid said...

What 'smart growth' is an attempt to do, is to reshape the entire character of the city. If I wanted to live in a city of high rise apartments and no personal transport, there are plenty of cities I could move to... overseas. I don't want that. And I don't want the 'social engineers' of the council to change my city without my consent.
I love the open spaces; I love that I have space and privacy; I love that I have a car and drive where I want, when I want.
I work from home, so I do not contribute to the rush hour traffic jam. But the traffic is not all headed into the central city every morning, and out again at 5pm. People travel all around Auckland at all times. The most practical way for people to do this is by car - rather than by having to catch 2 or 3 buses and spend maybe 2-3 hours extra time commuting. Time that comes out of family time, or reduces productivity by coming out of work time.

Anonymous said...

When I was young all of the communists were red. While there are still some red communists around who have not seem the joke most have come to understand that nobody is interested in their red nonsense and have changed colour and are now green communists. They are the same people though. They are collectivists and are utterly opposed to individual freedom especially as represented by the motor car. They insist that we must all use public transport and would force us to do so if they could. They have hijacked the environmental movement and are using it to push their stupid socialist ideas. We must all become more aware of these people and thwart their central plans. In Auckland the Campaign for Better Transport is, in my opinion, nothing more than a Greenpeace front organisation. Red communists have for years used fronts to disguise their activities.

The current single term Mayor of Auckland seems to spend his time lying flat on his back, purring contentedly, while having his tummy rubbed by the green communists and having visions which is apparently what the old saints used to do as an alternative to having orgasms.

A major activity of the Auckland City Council was spending money on froth and the Auckland Council seem to be doing the same.

david said...

Certainly, excessive regulation and control of people's and communities' (including companies') interests in enjoying and improving their own lives stultifies and eventually kills off that "goose" which lays the golden eggs of prosperity. Which is what we are seeing now; excessive interventions in property development, particularly by the enforcement of artificial scarcity of usable "greenfield" land but by no means limited to that, have allowed a legion of bureaucrats and professionals to leech onto and ticket-clip land development to the extent that it now costs of the order of ten times what it could cost if the requirements were restricted to those of basic servicing - as indeed they were prior to around 1973, when Manukau City initiated ticket clipping of "greedy developers".
Here lies the REAL source of housing (including land) cost increases far faster than incomes to the point of widespread unaffordability, especially by Mr Key's forgotten "underclass", of what many would recognise as an inalienable and universal "right" - to house one's household at a standard one can afford, not that required by middle class gits seeking to improve their own property values or minimise their own rates (or minimise rate rises while spending ever more on arts, culture and environmental "goods" (ie lollies).
The excessive borrowing which now characterises the western world, and could lead inexorably to collapse, can now be attributed, not to the bankers, but to the triggering planners and regulators who deliver up financially-challenged families desperate and fool enough to mortgage themselves to the hilt in the current market, or triumphant early-bird" investors who are swimming in unearned (and unreal) capital gains, to borrow against their "bubbled" (unreal, temporary) property "value" to fund their aggrandised lifestyles and overseas trips.
And while I'm about it, we threw out town planning in favour of "more market" after we crashed our economy in 1984 (remember Mr Muldoon's anti-economic "major energy projects"? and the run on the BNZ which saw us having to bail it out to the tune of $2 billion?), and the IMF refused to roll our loans over UNLESS we restructured away from excessive regulation towards "more market". Ie, personal choice of standards and affordabilities.
Hence the (private sector people and companies) "enablement" purpose of the RMA, ignored and reversed when our Absolutist Enviro-Planner Cartel (AEPC) imported the American architecture-driven "designer city" style of town planning known as "smart (sic) growth", dressed it in green drag and re-labelled it "resource (mis-)management"!! Little wonder our economy is crashing along with theirs, and those of Oz and Europe where excessive Russian-style bureaucratisation and disempowerment of the private sector is already reaping the "reward" Russia reaped.
Must we follow their path to collapse and revolution??
One other matter while I'm about it. USE of land is also excessively regulated, adding substantial overhead costs to companies (a) forced to locate where directed rather than where most propitiously, by zoning mechanisms expressly omitted from the RMA, and (b) required to use their land in ways which restrict their efficiency in the production of goods and services. Nowhere is this more marked than the forcing on us of high energy-content densification, and low quality public transport incapable of significant improvement, no matter how much we spend on it.