Vic Crone echoes Phil Goff's call for housing densification to be prioritised around transport hubs, emphasises importance of improving transport and using more PPPs

Vic Crone echoes Phil Goff's call for housing densification to be prioritised around transport hubs, emphasises importance of improving transport and using more PPPs

By Jenée Tibshraeny

Auckland mayoral candidate Vic Crone is empathising with NIMBYs, anxious as the Auckland Council decides whether or not to approve a bold regional blueprint that champions both urban densification and sprawl.

Having waded through thousands of public submissions, a government-appointed Independent Hearings Panel on Wednesday presented Auckland Council with its version of how the Unitary Plan should look.

It’s called for enough capacity to be created for 422,000 dwellings to be built within the next 25 years.

This would require a 43% reduction in central Auckland areas zoned for single housing, a 60% expansion in areas zoned as mixed housing urban zones (four houses up to three storeys per section), and a 21% expansion of areas zoned for apartments and terraced housing.

Speaking to Interest.co.nz in a Double Shot Interview, Crone acknowledges it is inevitable Auckland needs to grow both up and out.

Yet she’s stopped short of praising the Panel for increasing the capacity for densification in Auckland’s leafy central suburbs, instead echoing the stance of her rival, Phil Goff, by saying:

“The first thing we have to do is to increase densification around the transport nodes. And then we can have a look at what’s left. I suspect there will be some intensification required around the suburbs.

“Where we go up, we absolutely need to make sure as much of that can be around the main transport nodes as possible. And when you look at the Plan, for me, there’s actually not enough.”

As for the Panel’s proposal to remove some protections for homes built before 1944, Crone says: “It is important to keep the heritage of Auckland, so I can understand people’s concerns...”

Asked whether she believes NIMBYs need to get over it and let Auckland grow, Crone says:

“People haven’t really been told what it [the Panel’s proposed Unitary Plan] would look like. If you haven’t been involved in the process - and this is a big change - then of course you’re going to get really anxious around it.

“So I think the Council could’ve done a much better job, particularly with the out of scope submissions, to work with Auckland suburbs and say, ‘Look here’s what we’re doing, here’s why we have to do it, and actually here’s what your suburb could look like’.”

Transport needs to be included in the housing picture

Crone says the anxiety stems from concerns beyond housing.

“The transport isn’t good enough today, let alone with another 5,000, 10,000, 15,000 people coming in. The schools are overflowing, the community services are bursting at the seam. It’s not just about the house, it’s about how the whole community works together and I think that’s the picture Council must paint for communities.”

When considering densification, Crone says we need to think about “minimising our required investment in extending the transport network”.

All in all she maintains we have to think about where Auckland has come from when considering what may appear to be a brazen proposed Plan, and realise “we’ve been growing like this for quite a long time now”.

“We need to help Aucklanders understand that actually, densification doesn’t look like 10-20 storey, ugly apartment buildings that we built in the 70s, 80s, 90s.”

Commenting on the tensions between local and central government that the Unitary Plan has brought into light, Crone says:

“I would love to see the government and council working much more in partnership around solving the housing supply chain for Auckland. Because when you look at the issues, actually they fall across government and council. It’s not one or the other, it’s both.

“It’s likely that the Unitary Plan will have to be passed because we are in such a serious situation in terms of shortage of houses.”

More PPPs and park and rides needed

Crone is eager to push public-private partnerships (PPPs) as a more prominent source of funding for Council projects.

She recognises Auckland is among the cities around the world struggling to fund infrastructure growth, so: “We do need to look at more sources. We can’t expect ratepayers and taxpayers to pick up everything.”

She points to Melbourne’s twin rail tunnel as an example.

“That’s absolutely what I want to bring to the table. Auckland Council is not strong in doing this. I’ve done it in my business career and I’d like to bring some of that leadership and stability in seeing PPPs develop and thrive. They are complex and really hard, so it is important that we have a governor and governing body of the city that understands how to develop that.

“There are a range of businesses out there who have already offered to Council to partner in a number of areas. Like partnering building car parking buildings for park and rides.

“We do need to look at park and rides. We’ve got 5,500 carparks for our entire population in Auckland and that’s simply not enough. There are definitely private investors who are willing to help us in that space.”

Crone is confident there’s a pipeline of private sector interest that could be ready to go if given the opportunity. For example, she’s committed to bring forward Penlink and Mill Road as toll roads under PPPs.

Strong links to National, but no funding

Crone admits to having strong links to National, but denies being funded by the party or shoulder-tapped by its former president, Michelle Boag, to run for mayor.

“That’s not quite true. I did have some conversations with Michelle around it. The initial idea actually came from some colleagues of mine who I work with in the business sector and in the social enterprise sector.

“I have a strong relationship with National. I have worked with them over the past five, seven years in my various roles across Xero, Chorus and Spark.

“But also I have a good working relationship with Labour and of course I worked with them on the Future of Work policy they developed.

“I am standing as an independent. I do have strong relationships with both - particularly with the National Party.”

Politics needs more diversity, not career politicians

Crone also reiterates she isn’t eyeing getting into central government, but has a very nationalistic view of local politics.

“I’m looking at the importance of Auckland to Aucklanders and New Zealand, and within the context of the world stage. I see how fast the world is moving and Auckland isn’t keeping up with that.

“I’m very passionate about making a difference to Aucklanders’ lives, but to New Zealand. That’s why I put my hand up. Council needs a shake-up and I’ve got a range of skills to bring to that.

“Many people have asked me, ‘Are you going to be a politician for life?’ And I don’t look at it like that… We’re going to be changing careers a lot more. This idea of ‘job for life’ is not the world that we are heading into.

“And I think politics needs a dose of that too, where you’ve got people coming in and out with different backgrounds and different experiences. Rather than being in politics for 30, 35 years.

“We need more diversity. That’s what you see in business, that’s what you see in social enterprise, and I think we’re going to see that in politics as well.”

'It’s better to reinvent yourself than for someone to do that for you'

Addressing a group of business women a few weeks ago, Crone said: “It’s better to reinvent yourself than for someone to do that for you”.

Asked to explain this motto in the context of her career, she says:

“The world is changing fast and the speed of change is getting faster and faster. We’re seeing that in our businesses, we’re having to change more frequently to keep up. And if you don’t, then your business just gets completely marginalised.”

Crone makes reference to Uber, Airbnb and Netflix as examples of these change-makers. Yet personalising the concept, she says:

“The best person to disrupt yourself, is yourself, because you then have more control over the rules of the game.

“I always work really hard to keep changing and developing myself - to keep up - knowing that if I don’t, I’m going to become obsolete in the way that I think.

“It’s easier to constantly change a little bit, than every five or 10 years… learn a whole new way and change.”

Asked how much she would have to “reinvent” herself to become Mayor, Crone says:

“I don’t know yet. All I know is that I have the capability to do it. I recognise when it needs to happen and I know how to get there.”

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21 Comments

I think if you want to be a serious contender for Mayor, you are going to have to show that you have already put together a plan to pay for and implement all the new infrastructure needed to fix current growth pains, plus support future growth.

I'm betting that the new unitary plan, (regardless of who is elected into Council) the housing shortage issues, the housing affordability issues and infrastructure issues will never be resolved ever!!

Talk is cheap and the issues in Auckland require massive action and deregulation (same for the rest of the country too)........there is far too much box ticking and I'm not talking just the box ticking that involves Councils when building.

When will people wake the heck up to the fact that a mouth and a key board tapper don't use building tools of trade!?!?

Don't go thinking that we will get quality migrants to build either because word is getting out that NZ is a bureaucratically smothered and repressive country!! As other countries deregulate to overcome deflation and growth issues good quality migrants and good NZers will choose to leave for the most efficient and productive country and this is where NZ will fail miserably.

As a 26 year old professional with 100k saved, I am thinking about leaving this country. There is no future here for me.

Replace me with 3 indians or chinese. I don't care anymore.

Are you of European heritage? British? First, second, third generation Kiwi? For me it's quite useful to know just so I can get a good historical perspective for a typical commenter with your views. I think it is significant especially if a commenter refers to other ethnic groups. I_O wouldn't reveal his background. I'm English (NW European) but been here since very young.

Well, I'm born and raised in NZ. No where else to go.

And I'm finding that being born in NZ makes you a minority nowadays, in AKL at least.

I'm just pointing out that Chinese and Indians are buying it all up. Simple as that.

It's interesting that people are so cagey about their backgrounds. I'd really like to know what the consensus is for different groups. Maori, for example, how do they feel about things?
Otherwise it doesn't seem meaningful to talk about Chinese or Indians, why not just foreigners or individuals born in countries other than NZ?

I don't think it's necessarily cagey, I think a lot of people honestly don't know.

For the average person it quite often is not as simple as saying I am "x". You could say they look European/Asian/African. But that may not even be a dominant background.

I could give you my background as I am fortunate enough to have a family tree going back 400 years in some branches, but you would get pretty bored with all the 1/64ths.

In this day and age of multi-ethnicity and multi-cultural living, it is more and more coming down to Citizenship (nationality, rather than Ethnicity).

I think it is clear that NZ has an issue with immigration from one nation in particular (being China), so why shouldn't we discuss it. There is a multitude of evidence (both anecdotal and statistical) proving this.

Statistical
- http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/82546153/Chinese-get-70-per-c...

Anecdotal
- Go to an Auction room, ask an agent why they offer to list in Chinese Language papers/websites. Yet, not one has offered to list in Gujarat, Farsi, Spanish, or Tagalog.

The whole scenario reminds me of a quote from TV show Madam Secretary (S02E09)

Chinese Foreign Minister makes a response to Secretary of State "“China is playing a long game. When we come for you, it won’t be with missiles and cyberattacks. We will repossess you.”"

I think the opposite and that it is ethnicity and not citizenship that is becoming a dominant factor. Ethnic awareness is behind Trump, Brexit and the rise of nationalist movements across Europe.

I disagree, it can seem ethnic in that people appear to be against one particular immigrant group. But, it doesn't appear to be citizen on citizen (yet?) - all the venom is at immigrants.

So by main transport nodes she means pretty much the entire Isthmus which has by far the best public transport? Or just the areas near train stations in South Auckland that she doesn't care about?

Glad to see other people can read between the lines.

so wrong, the area I am in that has been scheduled for apartments is nowhere near rail or any future rail.
is serviced by a couple of buses so those that would live there would need cars.
it has been put by a town centre (full of op and 2 dollar shops) that is poor so everyone travels to two main shopping centres 10 k away to shop.
while I am for apartments they need to be in areas that people can use without the need to purchase a motor vehicle ie manukau city or silva park

That's where all the developments these days are falling down. No services or other infrastructure.

If you need a car it is very difficult to create a true city/apartment precinct.

10
up

Who the hell CARES about NIMBY ANXIETY? What about the anxiety of the YOUNG who will never own a house? We are the future of this country.

Ban foreign buyers. Kick out JK back to Hawaii.

I care about NIMBY anxiety.

Hi SpaceX. I think the NIMBY's and yourself have common ground. Your both being displaced by immigrants. ACC isn't to blame either. They are Councillors representing their voters. Its our crazy arsed government who insist on bringing in all these people, then they offer to lend ACC a portion of a billion dollars to pay for the infrastructure that all these people need. The actual bill in money will be tens or hundreds of billions. The bill in damage to the NZ lifestyle is beyond measure.
Provincial NZ might refresh you, try the provinces, Aucks is overated. Unfortunately it won't matter where you live in NZ the tax bill for this disaster will belong to everyone.

Did you see that in "The Plan" that they have said that for some developments, there will be no requirement to have parking for a car! ie No parking for an electric car to plug in!

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/money/82645342/auckland-house-buyers-mak...

PM says investors but is it investors or spevulators

No Solution till Govetnment takes responsibilty and act to curb demand and introduce measures on non resident buyer to stsrt with.

http://m.nzherald.co.nz/property/news/article.cfm?c_id=8&objectid=11684069

What more data or proof does any sensible human being need

All those private partners lining up for a suck at the public teat, and interest has morphed into their shill. Can't have got spending money without those fat hogs getting a lick aye.