Auckland 2040 the new Auckland Council slayer?

Policy Parrot says:

Anne Gibson has interviewed former planner Richard Burton this week in the NZ Herald website about the Auckland 2040 group he runs and their opposition to the Unitary Plan.

Richard is no muppet. As a former planner he has formidable experience and a well earned reputation. Thus his involvement and leadership of the Auckland 2040 organisation should be a big concern for Auckland Council.

Most community organisations are hopeless at stopping or facilitating change. They build large soap boxes, whine and bleat from the top of them and they typically cause more nuisance than they do benefit – slowing down the process but not identifying the issues nor providing solutions.

Some take extraordinary positions – like the crazy bunch of loons in Auckland’s East – the Pohutakawa Coast Community Association – who are well known for their utterly entrenched NIMBY-ism. They lose everything they oppose.

Conversely some community groups are effective.  

In Orewa the Orewa Residents and Ratepayers Associaton (ORRA) are the ‘northern slayers’.

So effective are they that the former Rodney District Council would fret and worry at the thought of preparing a variation to their District Plan. The residents group are well funded and smart enough to use RMA lawyers and qualified experts who in turn dismantle Council variations with ease and they have a successful legacy as such.

Auckland Council knows that most community groups are disorganised and where they aren’t most groups will take the foolish approach of ‘decline everything until death’ rather than a more sophisticated approach in planning terms.

Auckland 2040 is different. Well organised and well funded. But more concerning for Council is that it is run by planning experts. Planners know how to play the game.

The Auckland 2040 organisation (which is literally a month old) is already a force to reckon with. They have been given quick meetings with Mayor Brown and officers and now the Herald is covering them in interviews.

That is the sign that everyone takes them seriously and Council is running scared (the property industry looks on with some envy).

Auckland Council should be crapping itself. Well organised community groups become well funded community groups and then well publicised community groups who attract other community groups and residents join them for representation and guidance through the process. They become a snowball of strength.

This Parrot bets Auckland 2040 becomes one of the big players of the Unitary Plan process and because it has professionals running it – this Parrot bets it will do serious damage to the Unitary Plan. Ouch!

This Parrot doesn’t necessarily agree with all of Burton’s thoughts which are perhaps a bit outdated and unrealistic (staged release of land for instance) and using scare tactics to describe unintended consequences such as ‘adhoc development’. We do live in a real world were adhoc development popping up sporadically is a normal process – it can never be programmed or planned out because developers don’t work in a cohesive manner.

But that doesn’t matter because Auckland 2040 is already making Council wet it’s panties.

The reason is simple – for Auckland Council to beat Burton’s possies it would take preparation of  evidence that they don’t have now and don’t have the time to prepare. Burton is smart and knows this which is why he has carefully picked his argument and why this Parrot thinks he and his organisation are a formidable force.

So Auckland Council is already signalling a back down from certain Unitary Plan provisions.

We in the Property Industry have to admire Burton and his Black Panther Club. They have more attention than the property industry could ever wish for and they are being taken seriously.

The reason is votes.

Council hates property people but also knows that property people don’t matter on voting. Voters however are a different story. Particularly those voters who can put the boot in and do serious damage to the Council’s ‘perfect plan’.

It is disappointing in reality that Auckland Council panders to votes and not the people who have to deliver the product.

But it is great to see a well organised community group. One with rational and smart people at it’s helm.

Drawing to the point of this blog is to draw attention to the fact that community groups like this carry the biggest sticks. Bigger than the property industry with all it’s $$$ to spend because the community groups are voters.

This Parrot says that Auckland 2040 is going to be an interesting watch. And it may do to the Unitary Plan what the British did to Napolean at Waterloo.


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  • unitedtribes

    Who on earths Parrot

  • LesleyNZ

    Yes! And is it now timely to get behind a Mayoral Candidate? John Palino looks good a choice to me and my friends. What say you Whale and Parrot?

  • I would like to know who Planning Parrot is please.

    That aside I have read your piece here on Auckland 2040 Parrot and I would not quite say they are or will be Council Slayers (the make up of Council come October 12 will provide that ultimate outcome). Yes they might give Council and their planners a case of stomach reflux but not the slaying.

    Auckland 2040 are an interesting lot. Probably because my “involvement” with them ranging from a multi-prong debunking exercise against them (and in particular Guy Haddleton and his three storey house in a Single Housing Zone) in the final days of the Unitary Plan feedback round to a now “truce” exercise after some interesting feedback (seems we are quite similar on most grounds with the UP – but not all).

    Look like you PP, I won’t agree with all of Auckland 2040’s points – that is human nature and we are not clones. But I will give credit where credit is due and they are resourced and switched on. But heavens they need some PR training (which I believe they are getting from tomorrow) to sell their message and not earn the ire of an audience like they did on Wednesday at that Auckland Conversations piece on Population Trends.

    I did after the feedback I got from Auckland 2040 offer them this if they want to be serious hitters as we get ready for the formal notification phase of the Unitary Plan:

    (Of particular note here: If I as an individual can sell off a successful message in the social media and MSM realms and get mentioned for it – without annoying the bulk of the wider city there might be some lessons here for you guys on “facilitating the debate”)).

    As for the three issues annoying the city they are:

    1) Fixation on the North Shore with little regards for elsewhere in the city including the South and the West

    2) Fixation of trying to lower the population projection. The statistics are saying otherwise to your claims. So at least just pause until we get the latest Census results to see where things are going on a more up to date reflection. You did seriously annoy the audience with your fixation at that Conversation piece last week earning you no favours.

    3) And for heaven’s sake – drop the three storey issue in the Mixed Housing Zone. I and others have already debunked that piece (Guy Haddleton’s house in a Single Housing Zone) and will always have it as ammunition if need be against you. Three storey pieces can already happen under the existing plans and not much changes in the Unitary Plan. Constantly banging on about it especially in regards to the North Shore will definitely earn you no favours. If you want my advice on this; three storey pieces will happen, let’s get the quality right and in-line with our population growth. Do that and you would win more friends.

    The rest can be found here

    Where Auckland 2040 goes as we head into the election cycle and post elections will be interesting to see

  • chadchambers

    This guy seems to want more consultation at a local level. He doesn’t want a free-for-all for the developers. Pretty much against what the right wing wants.

  • Young and Dumb

    My only concern with cheap apartment buildings is that it will cause Auckland City to degrade and look more like a slum.

    If you look at all the “affordable” apartment buildings in Auckland City, such as the ones around Vincent Street and Albert Street a large percentage of them are occupied by Asian international students who don’t care for their apartment because at the end of the year they just go home.

    These places are an eyesore and by giving more people cheaper accommodation options, ‘undesirables’ are given an opportunity to find accommodation more inner city than outer city.

    I mean under the unitary plan all the new apartment buildings and what not will not necessarily be cheap but one cannot argue that there are enough well-off/rich people in New Zealand that are not able to find accommodation therefore they will not be the ones buying these shithouse apartments.

    Len Brown is an idiot and I for one am happy that I changed my mind and did not vote for him.

  • The Dog Thinks

    Richard Burton should consider Auckland 2040 registers as a political party and nominates him for Mayor – if successful at least Auckland would get the planning it so desperately needs. He gets my Woof Woof.

  • philbest

    I’d rather see the “Affordable City” party go places. They would do a lot more than “staged releases of land” that enable the land banking to continue.