Auckland Planning Update

Posted on Tuesday, May 22 2012

Auckland Council is continuing to prepare a range of planning documents so this month we thought it would be a good idea to recap on where everything is, give an update on the adopted Spatial Plan and some indications of where the new Unitary Plan is going.

The Auckland Plan
This is the big one we discussed at the end of last year and the Council has now adopted the final version which, whilst generally in line with the draft version does have some quite significant changes. These changes came about after intense lobbying by the development industry and following various studies undertaken (both by the Council and the development industry) which indicated that that the plan was not just highly ambitious but simply unrealistic in terms of the amount of intensification and growth proposed within existing urban areas (75% of new dwellings).

What the plan ended up with was a more realistic split between intensification within the existing urban area and Greenfield growth (i.e. outside the Rural Urban Boundary) with a 70/40 split and a recognition that, over the coming years most growth will be of the more traditional suburban type developments and that the number of medium and high intensity apartment type developments will increase over time as the development industry becomes better at building quality apartment developments and people become more willing to give up the back yard for the enjoyable low maintenance lifestyle that (well connected high quality) apartment and terraced housing developments can provide.

Overall, the Auckland Plan is a huge leap forward for spatial planning in Auckland and, with the changes from the draft Plan, seems to have achieved a good amount of ‘buy in’ from the development industry and the residents of Auckland.

Long Term Plan
The Long Term Plan (LTP) is the Council’s main implementation tool where they align services, projects and funding (on a ten year time frame) to provide the outcomes identified in the Auckland Plan. The Auckland Plan sets up the spatial outline of where the city wants be/go in the next 30 years and the LTP sets out how this is to be achieved (in ten year periods, reviewed every three years). In the first year, the LTP includes the Annual Plan (which is a more detailed plan setting out the Council’s budget and spending for that year) and after this the Annual Plan is prepared as a separate document. The Council has recently finished hearing submissions on the LTP which will cover 2012 – 2022 and a final adopted version of this is expected in mid June.

The main element for property investors in the Long Term Plan is: What areas is the Council going to invest in?

The Spatial Plan identified 8 grown centres for investigation and investment and the LTP has indicated that the major public investment and planning initiatives will be focused in the following areas:
• the city centre including the waterfront
• Hobsonville
• New Lynn metropolitan centre
• Onehunga town centre and suburban area
• Tamaki – town centres and suburban area
• Takapuna metropolitan centre
• Warkworth
• Pukekohe

These parts of the city (and nearby areas) are therefore the ones most likely to benefit from an uplift in value and more demand through increased Council investment in public transport, landscaping, street upgrades and community facilities.

Unitary Plan

The Unitary Plan is the detailed plan which replaces the current District Plan’s (of the former Councils) and the Regional Plans. We understand that the Council is seeking to significantly reduce the amount of rules and regulations so as to make the plan as clear, simple and concise as possible. To make the resource consent process more simple and streamlined we understand that the new plan will reduce the number of zones, standardize densities/activities and development controls across the city and provide clearer guidance on what is and isn’t allowed. We have also heard that the Council is working on an internet based tool which will allow you to select a property and then bring up all the relevant Unitary Plan rules and regulations which should make it easier to identify development opportunities quickly.

We look forward to seeing how the various plans evolve and especially to less red tape. Feel free to give us a call on 09 426 7007 if you would like more information on any of the plans discussed above.

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Mark Benjamin

At Terra Nova Planning, we specialise in strategic and policy planning, structure planning, urban design, and the consenting of development schemes. We have a track record of many hundreds of successful land use and subdivison resource consents.

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