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Council will ditch local plan programme to focus on isthmus plan, and Onehunga cries foul

Published 6 August 2007

Auckland City Council will abandon its liveable community plans programme for 2 years while it develops a new district plan for the isthmus.


The first 7 liveable community plans have still to be fully implemented. Once they’re put in place, the programme will stop until the isthmus plan review is completed in 2010.


First in the queue to miss out will be Onehunga, and the urban strategy & governance committee’s decision last Thursday to go with an untried new plan formula drew the ire local community board chairman Bridget Graham.


Mrs Graham went through a list of urgent issues which needed to be resolved for Onehunga to cope adequately with an anticipated influx of new residents, to no avail.


The committee popped Onehunga at the top of the priority list for the new area-based planning frameworks (all to be done in the space of 2 years, compared to up to 4 years for a liveable community plan), which didn’t appease Mrs Graham.


City planning group manager Penny Pirrit said the council didn’t have the resources – read, qualified staff – to undertake liveable community plans at the same time as it embarked on the area frameworks.


Community plans far more time-consuming


Ms Pirrit said development of the liveable community plans was time-consuming, requiring engagement of the community and co-ordination with key groups in the council & key stakeholders. Progress had consequently been slower than originally expected.


“Liveable community plans provide an integrated, detailed approach to managing growth in areas of change. The plans identify a range of actions, including advocacy, capital works, operational & regulatory, that need to occur in an area of change to realise the community & business benefits growth can bring to an area, as well as mitigate/reduce any potential negative effects.


“The district plan, on the other hand, provides the mechanism for managing the spatial implications of providing for growth through rezoning land to enable residential & business intensification, through the use of activity & development controls to ensure a certain quality & type of development occurs, and through designations to enable capital works such as acquisition of additional open space, pedestrian linkages & transport facilities…..


“Under the central sector agreement (of the Regional Growth Forum), which the council has signed with the Auckland Regional Council, we are required to have notified all plan changes to implement the council’s growth strategy by 2010. What this really means is that by 2010 we must have provided in the district plan the zoning & rules to enable intensification to occur in all of our areas of change.


“There are insufficient resources to undertake both area-based planning and the rest of the liveable community plans by 2010. It may also be confusing to the community if we continued doing both processes at the same time.


“It is therefore recommended that emphasis be given to implementing the 7 liveable community plans already adopted (the cbd strategy is ongoing in its implementation) and that no further liveable community plans be developed until after notification of the district plan.


“In addition, the spatial implications (ie, consideration of where growth through intensification may be enabled) of the growth strategy should be included in the area planning frameworks.”


Ms Pirrit said several factors highlighted a need to undertake some upfront planning before getting into the detail of developing the provisions of the reviewed isthmus district plan. These included law changes, case law, the long-term council community plan, the desire for more focused community outcomes & value of sense of place, and the development of a vision & key strategies for the council.


She said staff had identified 3 levels of planning that together would provide the spatial framework for how the city plans for future development, growth & activity – citywide, area- based & specific neighbourhood/centre-based. It’s the third of these that is set aside.


Ms Pirrit gave an outline of the area-based planning frameworks:


Land use & activity (including growth areas & lifestyle choice)Integration of key transport projectsOpen space/community facility provisionSustainability & urban design principles integralCharacter & heritage. 

She said they’d be similar to liveable community plans but would focus on spatial/physical delivery of vision, cover much wider areas than around town centres and wouldn’t be at the same level of detail. Importantly, they will be outcomes-based rather than zoning-based.


Mrs Graham said Onehunga should have top priority “because several things have happened over the last couple of months:


Opening of the Onehunga branch rail lineTransit’s decision to include a rail crossingArta (the regional transport authority)’s report is due out in October (but probably won’t appear then), on the best rapid-transit system to the airport, which might or not happen depending if the rail follows the highway, but “it would seem stupid not to link up with the Onehunga branch line. 

“If all of that does happen, Onehunga is going to become a major transport hub for Auckland City. That is going to call for real planning of the area. At the moment there is no property that is owned (by an appropriate body) for a railway station. If we are to have a railway station, we need an area big enough for a bus terminal as well. The existing bus terminal doesn’t cope with the existing traffic. This tells you that Onehunga is going to have extra housing.


“As well as that, we have State Highway 20 issues, we’ve got possible waterfront development. We need to co-ordinate all the infrastructure in Onehunga. I suggest Onehunga takes top priority in area planning, liveable community plans, whatever.”


Mrs Graham: The development won’t stop


Mrs Graham said the council should be more flexible about its planning processes: “It’s no good saying you can’t do anything until 2010. The developments are going to happen anyway m- and then you are in reactive mode. Things don’t stop just because you say you’re not going to plan.”


Mrs Graham also said Auckland City owed heavily: “I have asked for a list of properties owned by the Onehunga Borough Council (which disappeared in the 1989 amalgamation) and sold by Auckland City Council. Onehunga made a huge contribution to Auckland City Council. I think it’s now time when something was put back and I’d like to see it pout back through thorough planning.


“Onehunga is the gateway from the south and it has been the Cinderella for some time.”


However, Ms Pirrit said liveable community plans focused on an area covered by an 800m radius from town centres, and the council had found people who become involved in that process “don’t understand the implications for the wider community. The area plan will help that.”


While Mrs Graham’s points concerned regional infrastructure, the question remained of how well they’d be dealt with at the local level – the station land, for instance, and where it might be, affecting who develops what & where.


Duthie: There has to be a tradeoff


The council’s city development general manager, John Duthie, said there had to be a tradeoff: “Do we do a few areas really well, or do we do a structure area framework?”


He said the liveable community plans process would resume after 2010: “The other way, you would do liveable community plans for, say, 25% then put out a district plan saying ‘no change’.”


Cllr Christine Caughey asked if there was a blueprint or a guide to the new area frameworks process, and Ms Pirrit said the planning & regulatory committee had set up a working party looking at those issues. She said the aim was to produce “an innovative plan that is easy to understand, picks up technological advances.


However, the planning committee’s chairman, Cllr Glenda Fryer, seemed as surprised as anybody else by the turn of events: “Mt Albert was told it was on the list and last year I was told it would be done at the same time as the district plan. I withdrew Mt Albert (from top priority) because I could see it wasn’t urgent. It makes it quite difficult now that we’re not proceeding.”


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Attribution: Council committee meeting & agenda, story written by Bob Dey for this website.

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