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Auckland Council expresses 'significant concerns' about aspects of the Government's proposed Urban Development Authorities, including the composition and powers of them and the nature of new development that could arise

Auckland Council expresses 'significant concerns' about aspects of the Government's proposed Urban Development Authorities, including the composition and powers of them and the nature of new development that could arise

By David Hargreaves

The Auckland Council's questioning a number of aspects of the Government's proposed new urban development authorities (UDAs) and wants to make sure it can have absolute power of veto over specific development proposals.

The council says it has "significant concerns" regarding aspects of the Government's overall proposals including the composition and powers of Urban Development Authorities (UDAs), the processes outlined for the development of UDA, and "about the nature of new urban development that could arise if these are not sufficiently cognisant of, and responsive to, the legislative, planning, environmental and infrastructure context in which they would sit".

The comments are made in the council's draft submission to the Ministry of Business and Innovation and Employment, in response to MBIE's discussion document published earlier this year.

At the moment the Government's looking toward having legislation in Parliament by the middle of next year to establish UDAs.

As outlined by the MBIE discussion document, the powers potentially available for an urban development project would relate to:

►Land – powers to assemble parcels of land, including existing compulsory acquisition powers under the Public Works Act 1981.

►Planning and resource consenting – powers to override existing and proposed district plans and regional plans, and streamlined consenting processes.

►Infrastructure – powers to plan and build infrastructure such as roads, water pipes and reserves.

►Funding – powers to buy, sell and lease land and buildings; powers to borrow to fund infrastructure; and powers to levy charges to cover infrastructure costs. An urban development authority would not have building consenting powers.  

The MBIE discussion document says that to succeed, urban development projects need central and territorial authorities to work together.

Power of veto

"The Government therefore proposes that no development project will be established without the agreement of every territorial authority whose area falls within the proposed project boundaries. This effectively gives territorial authorities a veto over the application of the proposed legislation."

However, while under the proposal, regional councils will be consulted as part of both the establishment and development plan stages, it is proposed there "will be no need to obtain the prior agreement of the relevant regional council to the development project and they will not have a veto right".

As a "unitary council", Auckland Council is both a regional council and a territorial authority.

The council submission says as local authorities, "regional councils should be involved in the process of developing a UDA".

"...The council strongly supports territorial authority veto rights (proposal 50). In particular, the veto right is essential to ensure the strategic objectives of an UDA are appropriate and do not undermine the council’s responsibilities under Part 2 of the Resource Management Act (RMA). Any legislation needs to be clear that if a territorial authority vetoes a UDA proposal, the process ends."

Having made this point forcefully, the council then goes on to question whether the MBIE discussion document actually properly tackles the perceived development problems.

'Problem insufficiently defined'

"The problem which the discussion document seeks to solve is insufficiently defined," the council says.

"A more specific problem definition would be helpful in providing useful feedback and suggested improvements. In addition, the discussion document does not address the considerable resources that would be required to establish and operationalise a UDA.

"...The council does not believe that, as proposed, the tools, processes, and interventions in the discussion document will address the underlying constraints that presently hold urban development back. In addition, many of the suggested tools intended for UDAs’ use are already available to local authorities.

"The council is unconvinced that, as stated in the diagram of proposed processes (page 15), the benefits of the proposals will lead to better integration between land use planning and transport systems, as well as increased planning certainty for developers. Collectively, the proposals are likely to reduce planning integration and will reduce certainty for local government and other actors such as key infrastructure providers."

The submission goes on to say that the council does not support proposals that would allow the strategic objectives of a UDA in a project area to override a territorial authority’s strategic decision making at the city and regional level. For Auckland, this includes proposals that would conflict with the urban growth strategy contained in the Auckland Unitary Plan (AUP) and the Auckland Plan.

Govt: veto important; Councils already have tools, but spread over too many Acts

Building and Construction Minister Nick Smith told in Parliament on Thursday afternoon that he had not read the Auckland submission but was looking forward to doing so.

The government considered urban development authorities as a powerful and new tool for redevelopment, Smith said. “We’ve seen them very successfully used in cities like London, Singapore, Toronto, Melbourne and Sydney. It’s an extra tool in the tool box for enabling our cities to be able to progress,” he said.

Smith noted that the initial proposals by the government made plain that it could not proceed with an urban development authority without the approval of a council, effectively providing local authorities with veto rights of a UDA within their area.

“This is quite complex and major legislation. I’m looking forward to seeing the detail of the submission so we can get all of those nuances right,” Smith said.

Asked whether there could be tweaks to this, such as giving parties the ability to appeal a council veto, Smith said: “The current proposal for the urban development authority is for it only being able to go ahead with the support of the council. So, the proposal that we have consulted on effectively provides for a veto.”

He added: “There is no question that this type of urban development authority legislation will make it a lot easier for both councils and governments to be able to redevelop areas.”

Smith noted Auckland’s Viaduct Basin, prepared for the hosting of the America’s Cup, as a good example of a UDA in practice. “It was very specific legislation that was developed because it was simply too cumbersome to get all the other Acts to get to work in a co-ordinated way to get the sort of quality urban development that was needed there,” he said.

Meanwhile, on the Auckland Council’s suggestion that it already had many of the available tools at hand, Smith said: “The truth is, that there are some of those powers available, but they’re scattered in different Acts and are not that accessible and that’s why other jurisdictions in Australia and Canada, and the UK, has found that special leg of the form of an urban development authority’s required.”

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They have provided so poorly for city growth that are hardly in any position to complain.

They have demonstrated that they are incapable of doing their job. Maybe a mega-council is just a really stupid idea formulated by people trying to demonstrate that they are useful.

OMG STFU and get out of the damn way.

"A more specific problem definition would be helpful in providing useful feedback and suggested improvements"
Haha! Perhaps it was that the council recommended an anti development NIMBY unitary plan which needed an independent panel to override? They seem to have forgotten that already.

NIMBY are right to protest the ridiculous intensification plan for suburbs like Milford etc
Before I left NZ the East Coast Bays Rd was bumper to bumper from the lights outside Rangitoto College all the way back to Glenvar Rd and sometimes to Okura River Rd every morning.
No allowance was made for the extra load placed on the existing roading system by the Long Bay development. This is just one example of many I could state around Auckland
The. Whole mechanism is wrong for running Auckland It doesn't matter who is mayor it will remain incompetent as long as the same ideological bureaucrats with agendas hold their positions
This is well known yet all that happens is talk and the status quo grid lock of incompetence and endless analysis of reports remains with 0 decisions
Is there a timetable yet for construction of a second harbour crossing ?
The last time I heard the council were being asked to approve a clip on cyclewat to the existing
overworked bridge !
That my friends is living in Auckland

They're selfish to protest intensification, IMHO.

If they're going to welcome rampant immigration and foreign purchasing because it drives their home values up - and they're going to vote for parties who propagate such things - then they're incredibly selfish if they think they should get all the upside and none of the downside to these things.

Otherwise, they need to start demanding more sustainable policies - even if it's at the sacrifice of a little bit of their house price.

Just because they voted National does not mean they voted for intensification of their little suburb.
I voted National twice and after 6 years learnt my lesson.
I enjoyed the experience of influx of migrants and intensification so much I left my country of birth after 55 years
Vote Labour they deserve a chance again

Aucklanders did vote for sustainability and a compact city, three times Labour won Auckland on that ticket.

Now our city is undertaking the greatest sprawl of projects with vast new suburbs from Pukekohe to Wellsford. And we have the slowest of slow apartment builds. We demanded, they lied.

Sustainability is a mere buzzword
Satellite cities are in fact the best option because regardless of what you are told otherwise Intensification also places demands on the existing roading sewer system water system schools hospitals bridges etc
Their are no free lunches intensifying the existing suburbs

That might be true if Auckland were building any commercial or industrial areas into the exurbs so people could work there, but Auckland Council are merely planning dormitories. All of the exurban residents are going to commute, the vast majority by car, to Auckland City crushing our existing road network and choking our lungs.

Industrialization is not suitable for NZs far flung eon only anyway
It imports even its vehicles from fully industrialized countries
NZ is two little islands at the end of the world
Knowledge based businesses not industry is the best way forward for NZ and a lot of other places as industrialization is centralized throughout the world
So I see satellite cities as peaceful havens from the city !

Intensification works in the developed world. Case in point: Japan. It happened 40-50 years ago and their infrastructure works very well, even with a relatively large population.

the problem in this argument is the 40-50 years ago bit... (ignoring the Japan debt ponzi bit)
unfortunately resources wise we are no longer in the 60's and world population is massively higher.
Intensification (effectively economies to scale) is now hard up against diminishing returns
Sustainable can now only mean massive population reduction

So there we have it Ham n Eggs
The only answer is curtail the population ?
How fatalistic!
In case anyone hasn't noticed the increase in population is matched by a massive increase in technology
Just hasn't made it to NZ yet ! Things like super fast trains and superior highways and how many sustainable buildings are in Aucklands CBD in this the 21st century yet ?

So now it's an ex Labour party leader and his team of misfits stopping/questioning National housing proposals.
Anyone thinking a change of Govt is going to help things is dreaming, ultimately they are all Turkeys! wait and see...

You speaking Downside
Labour is a necessary change of government
Nobody said it was the panacea for everything

Problem fix: open up all the land to intensification and let people build anything they like subject to a few simple rules, a la Tokyo.

Discussion will then move on to how many new Aucklanders people *really* want, when it's about more than just their property going up in value due to lack of supply.

Tokyo is an ugly rabbit warren, made partially liveable with an efficient subway and large parks, some of which have significant homeless camps. If that's where you see your nirvana, its less than $1,000 for a one way ticket.

Garbage. Tokyo is a wonderful city. Furthermore, the Japanese are far more adept and sophisticated with the use of their living spaces.

Rick I don't recall Tokyo real estate turning out too well either

Better than Auckland, with a much larger population:

True but Japan has 120 million and a building industry that eclipses NZs cottage industry style of building I don't believe it's a fair comparison. They will soon have magnetic levitation super high speed trains to replace their aging bullet trains !

All we saw on the Shinkansen to Kyoto was km after km of ugly cookie cutter boxes posing as homes.

But what you're not grasping is that it's all a sign of success!

We must import people as fast as possible, and in order to do this we also need to allow as much intensification as possible in order to make homes affordable.

Gone are the days of quarter acre sections.

You saw very little of Japan then my friend !

Tokyo (admittedly mostly Shibuya, the swanky part next to the NZ Embassy and the Deputy Prime Minister), Kyoto, Nara and Hiroshima. An expat of 4 years took us around and gave us insights into Japanese thinking. Like all societies there were parts I'd like to adopt (the ability to leave a bicycle unlocked is amazing) and others they could use some work on e.g. Japan Rail. I enjoyed the trip but came away without feeling this is the way NZ should live especially if you have to be uber rich to afford to live as some of us do now.

Ex Expat. Japanese rail system is the envy of the world -check out here for why -it is more (a lot more) than just fast trains.

Typical kiwi response !
How would a kiwi house 120 Million people inside a small country ?
NZ fails to even accommodate a minuscule population
In case you need reacquainting the kiwi answer to housing overflow is the Skyline Garage
Go see them filled with families in South Auckland & not even insulated !
How do I even know ? I lived in Auckland for 55 years

NZ taxpayers have provided some $billions worth of infrastructure to the immediate surrounding area of Auckland City. Auckland Council has banned most development in the immediate surrounding area of Auckland City.

Auckland Council is directing the majority of suburban development to take place several kilometres away from the edge of Auckland City. The NZ taxpayer is being asked to pay for connection of vast new areas of exurban sprawl laid out by Auckland Council.

Auckland Council says - "the suggested tools intended for UDAs’ use are already available to local authorities", but they don't use the tools, just like they don't use the infrastructure.

Unaha ?
Auckland businesses & citizens pay the majority of the tax both income taxation and Goods & Services Taxation so when you say "NZ taxpayers" you are also saying AUCKLAND TAXPAYERS
Geez I hate parochialism

I am an Aucklander and I pay tax. Taxes have paid for $billions of infrastructure around Auckland, an area which Auckland Council says we are not allowed to use.

However Auckland Council is constructing vast new sprawls miles away from Auckland and wants us to pay taxes to subsidise those new areas. And Auckland Council wants taxpayers to pay to help connect those new sprawls to Auckland. And Auckland Council wants taxpayers to pay to connect all those sprawls to each other.

So just to be clear, I object to taxpayers paying three more times to finance infrastructure when we have already paid more than enough.

You are a classic example of narrow thinking
You've swallowed the sustainability & ride a bike to work dogma
Fact is roads are good not bad
Satellite cities actually make good sense
As I write this I sit in one of the worlds major hospitals
which has a staff of over 7000 people I guess they mostly got to work travelling on a road

At this rate Auckland is going to run out of trains to wreck.

Auckland is flat broke
In deep debt it can never pay back
until the city does what every other large city does and charge a land/property transfer tax & finally charges a decent yearly property tax of at least 1%
Auckland has grossly undertaxed its property owners for decades which is why it has borrowed so much money and is paying so much interest to merely remain solvent as a city
Before any development projects take place the financial situation of Auckland must be addressed
Yet it is not being addressed

Which is basically allowing the current generations to enjoy comparative wealth at the cost of future generations bearing the debt load to enable this.

I think you are wrong.
Auckland is in the situation it is in because of its successive failures in planning. The land tax you speak of would have only made a difference in the past 5 years as the rate of property inflation decoupled from long term trends.
Auckland's issue of poor planning has been evident since, at least, the 50s. The fault with Auckland is that we don't want density, we want to socialise the cost of infrastructure, and we don't want anything to change in our backyards.

If you want to get Auckland back on track, it isn't by instituting just a land tax, per se. It is by:
- Reducing socialised costs/incentives
- Reducing implicit taxation
- Private infrastructure developments
- Intensification
- Long term planning
- Lowering the (relative) value of property

All of which, no one wants to do or is incapable of doing.

You can read and regurgitate all the stuff you want about land taxes, but it is pretty naive to suggest that they alone are the sure fire way to fix the state of affairs that Auckland City is in.

Hey it works for Vancouver their coining it the benefits of the Foreign Buyers Tax works so well that they're now bring it in for Toronto.

Those taxes fuelled the fire in Toronto

Having just been in Canada, the fire is raging in Victoria now.

Oh I think it's poor planning for sure but it does not negate the serious fact that the city of Auckland has grown for decades by using debt instead of raising a fair rate of property tax from the community. This has eventuated because it was political suicide to implement a "sustainable" level of property tax.
I personally am saddened by Aucklands heavy debt

Supercity's track record is pretty poor for assisting development, or infrastructure planning ahead of future development. The consent process has basically turned into a fee gouge exercise to help pay for the leaky building mess. Either the Council needs to implement a "fast track process" for items of strategic development, or central government has to.

Millionaires making a dash for it...Worldwide.

Tiz why Awkland is up and down....Tiz why we do not know if Awklanders are coming or going.

Tis why...our infrastructure cannot cope......SSSSSSSSSSSSzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Awkland Council's attitude can be summed in three little words:

"We Know Best"

Auckland Council (suburban development strategy):

Increase size, increase distance, increase cost.

Alas it brings me great sorrow that this blog is so negative
What it needs is a dose of Zach & DubleD
At least they've harnessed the environment to suit their own ends !