After years of pushing the compact city fallacy and ignoring the obvious approach to solving Auckland’s particular growth problems, the city and its planners have at last begun to water down their dearly held but doomed compact city plan.
The ground has been giving for a while now. The conceit of planning by projection is clear as migration figures deviate wildly from the analysts’ assumptions. The estimates of housing supply underlying the Unitary Plan are demonstrably spurious. The impacts of intensification on air and water quality and nature in the city are now coming to be realised. And the impact on council finances as it aims to retrofit under-capacity infrastructure and pours money into transit threaten the City’s credit rating and the pockets of its citizens.
I have been documenting the short comings of a compact city plan somewhat tediously since my report on the proposal to the Auckland Regional Council in 1999. So, to change my tack, here are some advantages of the new direction towards satellite cities and settlements. It provides:
Will all these good things come to pass? Here are four provisos we need to consider as we allow our “pearls on a string” to expand:
Many years of resistance to peri-urban growth suggest that planners are not necessarily the people to determine when this the proposed development might take place, or even to design it. Instead, the Council needs the skills to negotiate delivery packages with investors and developers, and to provide oversight, and authority.
Finally, while I find this development a justification for the many critical pieces I have written about Auckland’s planning in the past, I will indulge in one more observation. Marry the mini-cities approach with the push for Urban DevelopmentAuthorities and we can begin to peel back the institutional onion that is Auckland Council.