One plan to rule them all

Hun­dreds and thou­sands have sprin­kled their opin­ions on the Auck­land plan.

Element - - LIfestyle -

On the first page of the great and glossy tome that is The Auck­land Plan there is a mihi that con­tains the line “To all of those who have passed into realms un­seen, Auck­land is the legacy you leave to those who fol­low, your descen­dants…”

I’m as­sum­ing the legacy to which it refers is not the debt­suc­ces­sive coun­cils could rack up in the goal of cre­at­ing the world’s most liv­able city, which they de­fine as “a city where pros­per­ity is widely spread and sat­is­fac­tory life­styles are achiev­able for ev­ery­one,” Per­haps this is the realm un­seen of which they speak?

The mihi also con­tains the line ‘Auck­land, beloved of hun­dreds’. This seems a tad mod­est. Af­ter all, the plan was crafted with the as­sis­tance of 15,000 Auck­lan­ders. It was a ver­i­ta­ble sweat­shop of opin­ion­at­ing that could only have in­volved those who really care about their city, or those with lit­tle bet­ter to do.

At 380 pages it’s hefty and glossy, with a wealth of pho­tog­ra­phy, car­tog­ra­phy, ty­pog­ra­phy, and in­fog­ra­phy. It’s ur­ban plan­ning pornog­ra­phy.

I’d sug­gest that ev­ery home should have been sent a copy but for the fact that it would have cost the equiv­a­lent of a lengthy sec­tion of a Road of Na­tional Sig­nif­i­cance, (or as one wag re­cently dubbed them Roads of Sig­nif­i­cance to Na­tional). This would have contributed in no small mea­sure to the afore­men­tioned debt legacy.

It cov­ers ev­ery­thing from in­fra­struc­ture, (we ex­pect it to be im­proved) to en­vi­ron­ment (we should look af­ter trees), to her­itage, sports, the Treaty, the econ­omy (it should be trans­for­ma­tional), ru­ral ar­eas (we ex­pect them to re­main ru­ral), trans­port (we ex­pect it to im­prove), and the arts (it should not only en­ter­tain but should drive pros­per­ity), which seems a de­light­ful, if lofty, goal.

But hid­den amongst such rous­ing words as di­rec­tive, fea­si­bil­ity, con­tigu­ous, cat­alytic, statu­tory, ad­verse, and spec­trum is a very hu­man doc­u­ment that at its best at­tempts to be a tem­plate for all that could be great and good for Auck­land.

It cat­a­logues who we are, where we live, what we do, and who we do it with, all the while ex­trap­o­lat­ing as to who we may be­come, how we might live, and what we be­lieve we will want to do.

As with any doc­u­ment com­piled with the help of thou­sands it can be a lit­tle prone to pon­tif­i­ca­tion, but it is not a to­tal­i­tar­ian dic­tate. Some would ar­gue that role be­longs to the Uni­tary Plan.

For those un­fa­mil­iar with the Uni­tary Plan, which I imag­ine is pretty much ev­ery­one, it re­places the 12 former district and re­gional plans of the former city and re­gional coun­cils. It is the rule­book that will help im­ple­ment the vi­sion con­tained in The Auck­land Plan. Be­cause vi­sions, af­ter all, need rules.

Any­one can have a vi­sion for what a city should be. Per­son­ally, I‘d like a li­brary with a drive-thru drop-off for books so that I don’t have to strug­gle to find a car park to re­turn them, which is of­ten more ex­pen­sive than the fine would be if I sim­ply left them in the boot for an­other week. Oth­ers may dream of a car-free city, or be­lieve that li­braries are a non-es­sen­tial drain on ratepayer’s mea­gre re­sources.

The crux of the mat­ter is sim­ply ‘who can do what, where’. If you live in Auck­land and you care about your city, you should at the very least pe­ruse the Plan. It will cer­tainly be di­vi­sive, which is why I sus­pect it was not with­out a

de­gree of irony that they named it the Uni­tary Plan.

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