BIG FEET?

Element - - BUSINESS -

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.

Th­ese days you hear a lot about car­bon foot­prints, which is ba­si­cally a way of mea­sur­ing how much you’re putting the boot into the en­vi­ron­ment. Merid­ian has a vi­sion for the fu­ture and in­vests in re­new­able en­ergy, and has a com­par­a­tively tiny car­bon foot­print com­pared to some other elec­tric­ity com­pa­nies. Be­cause when it comes to feet, great things come in small pack­ages. You can join them at merid­ian.co.nz.

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