One plan to rule them all
Hundreds and thousands have sprinkled their opinions on the Auckland plan.
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.