This is the ‘big ticket item’ in the plan, as it will shape the Council’s approach on much of the rest, and the area in which the plan is the most definitive and clear on the line the council is planning to take. It is estimated that the population of Auckland will grow by up to one million people in the next 30 years, which equates to 600 people a week.
There are two main options to respond to this: let the city sprawl out further, or snuggle us all up a bit tighter. The Council has gone for the latter. The Plan states: “Compact cities can play an important role in economic growth. Areas which are densely populated are often more productive and innovative, and attract more people, capital and activity.”
The argument is that this will reduce the housing footprint and free up more affordable options. Affordability is one of the Council’s top priorities, with the idea being to provide a broad range of housing types to meet income levels, as well as age, household size and cultural needs.
Higher density living also reduces the pressure on transport links and susceptibility to fuel price increases, as each neighbourhood can be designed to have as many amenities as possible within walking distance.
But some argue that higher population concentration could lead to increased air pollution and higher building costs as awkward ex-industrial sites are converted for housing and restricting city expansion will inevitably push up land prices.
Housing Minister Nick Smith for one has expressed his
The Council has already extended the potential limits of the city with the new Rural Urban Boundary (RUB), which will define the maximum area of urban development by 2040.
frustrations with what he called the stranglehold of the existing Metropolitan Urban Limit, which attempts to define a maximum extent of the Auckland’s urban area. Both Smith and the Prime Minister have expressed a desire to free up large areas of farmland on the outskirts of the city for housing development.
In fact the Council has already extended the potential limits of the city with the new Rural Urban Boundary (RUB), which will define the maximum area of urban development by 2040, taking in Pukekohe, Drury South Karaka and Paerata in the south, Whenuapai and Kumeu-Huapai in the west and Warkworth and Silverdale West to the north.
The council’s plans would see 60 to 70 per cent of new housing contained within the current built-up area, with some of the remaining in the RUB. This would also include an increase in medium-density housing, with the encouragement of semi-detached or low-rise apartment blocks. ‘Mixed Use Zones’ are proposed, typically located around centres and along frequent public transport corridors and major road corridors. Where these are next to the city centre, metropolitan centres and larger town centres, buildings up to six storeys in height would be permitted. In other areas where the zone applies, buildings up to four storeys would be allowed.
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