The war between Auckland Council and the Government

A general view of newly-built houses at Dadun village of Lingshui ethnic Li autonomous county

There is no doubt that a silent war is raging between Auckland Council and the Government.

Auckland Council wants to plan itself as a utopian paradise of compact living with ticky-tacky shoebox apartments, choo choo trains and gold plated pavements.

The Government wants affordable houses and lots of them.

The trouble is that the two ideas clash.

A compact city is a very hard thing to achieve. Changing existing buildings and houses through development requires far more than just planning and pretty pictures by urban design unicorns to achieve it. It requires the economics to work for developers, lots of time and it requires a fundamental shift in the cultural aspirations of the residents from houses, backyards and swimming pools to apartment living.

The reality is that change is painfully slow. Thus Council is trying to force change with city limits that stop growth. They believe that if they reduce the available stock of housing then people will eventually be frustrated and will opt for apartments.

It’s a gamble that hasn’t worked yet and has created a boiling pot of competition for the limited houses that exist which has ramped up house prices massively. Housing stock has increased four fold in less than 15 years.

Everyone can see it, including the Government. So they instigated the Housing Accord to release more land for houses – principally greenfield.

The Council hated that idea but nodded and smiled and went along with it – tranched land all over the city. But they had no intentions on letting it succeed and quietly reduced infrastructure budgets so that, come consent time, they could say to developers that they will have to wait 10 years to be connected to the pipe networks. Developers are frustrated and unable to do anything.

In the meantime the Council has continued with its compact city planning. Not once has it resiled from its plans. Consultants for Council have worked very hard to prove it can be achieved, although they are failing to convince the Independent Hearings Panel.

The Government could step in, but they fear it will rise into a big fight and eventually result in it having to foot the bill for pipes. But the Government also created the beast of Auckland Council and stepping in means it has to admit it got it wrong amalgamating the existing councils.

And so the war is in stalemate.

And house prices are on track to rise due to a lack of stock. I note that the rise in houses prices is precisely that – house prices. That’s where people want to be. Culturally the tie to houses is as strong as ever.

Auckland Council has created a nightmare based on utopian nonsense. The top brass don’t like being told what to do and think they know best. And they are going to do everything to screw the scrum to get their own way.

And the Government isn’t willing to meddle.

If you ask me the Council is winning the war, but not for the better good of NZ Inc. And the Government is only window dressing the issue.

The Government have stuffed up. They shouldn’t have amalgamated the super city without reducing their powers and functions. Clearly the fault has to lay with the Government for the mess because it all could have been predicted.

Do you want:

  • Ad-free access?
  • Access to our very popular daily crossword?
  • Access to daily sudoku?
  • Access to Incite Politics magazine articles?
  • Access to podcasts?
  • Access to political polls?

Our subscribers’ financial support is the reason why we have been able to offer our latest service; Audio blogs. 

Click Here  to support us and watch the number of services grow.