Housing Jack’s beanstalk – Auckland’s Unitary plan
In my last blog I looked at historical growth in Auckland and talked only briefly about growth projections for Auckland. However, Statistics NZ’s projection that Auckland’s population will grow by a million people over the next 30 years is surely more worthy of a Jack and the Beanstalk heading.
Auckland Council believes – optimistically – if planned well, that the predicted growth will launch Auckland towards being the world’s most liveable city. Yet, the difficult question of a tenable housing strategy remains at the centre of that goal … and is quite possibly a make or break contributor.
The Auckland housing market continues to be the subject of intense media and desperate political scrutiny. The Government and Auckland Council have recently stepped up their work schedule and are now meeting fortnightly to focus on the housing crisis. But if Aucklanders think the housing scenario is tough now, things are only projected to get more difficult. In the short-term housing shortages and low interest rates are combining with a change in buyer behaviour fuelling predictions that average house prices in Auckland will increase as much as 12% in the next year (view article here). In the medium term, early instalments of the 400,000 homes identified as necessary to house the blooming Auckland population will need to vie for attention with the Christchurch rebuild.
Amongst this crescendo of need Auckland Council has released a draft of their Unitary Plan, which is a rulebook that will shape the way Auckland will grow. Public comment on the Unitary Plan is being encouraged and the Council has developed a neat piece of online interactivity, the “Shape Auckland Housing Simulator”, to facilitate engagement. Have a play on http://shapeauckland.co.nz/shape-auckland-housing-simulator/.
The “Simulator” simplifies the mix of growth strategies down to seven, and challenges Aucklanders to find space for another 400,000 homes. Engaging the community in the complex problem of planning growth is a tough challenge. Well done Auckland Council for their “Simulator”.
On reflection, perhaps one of the most valuable outcomes of the “Simulator” exercise will be raising citizen’s awareness of the challenges facing Auckland, and lifting acceptance levels for high density housing solutions.
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