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Auckland productivity dividend must be realised

Auckland productivity dividend must be realised to justify city shaping infrastructure investment

An independent review of Auckland’s planning framework by international consulting firm SGS Economics and Planning released today identifies a lack of city shaping infrastructure investment as the principal impediment to achieving a quality compact city. The report recommends that the productivity benefit from investment, demand management and urban intensification needs to establish the case for expanded co-investment and policy reform by Central Government.

“We commissioned this study to gain a better understanding of how successfully programmes, policies and investment plans developed over the past three years by the Council are delivering on the Auckland Plan vision to make the city the World’s Most Liveable,” said Stephen Selwood CEO of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development.

“SGS found that governance reforms have equipped Auckland with the most evolved metropolitan governance structure of any city in Australasia.

“Auckland has a united voice on regional issues and has the critical mass to make trajectory shifting decisions in its own right.

“The Auckland Plan sets out a compelling and demonstrably achievable vision for Auckland’s spatial development.

“However, SGS found that the Auckland Plan objective of a quality compact city was unlikely to be achieved without increased investment in city shaping infrastructure, identification of the means to fund that investment and policy reform to support road pricing and value capture mechanisms.

“On current plans there simply is not sufficient investment in transport infrastructure to support a transition to an efficient and competitive higher density urban form, Selwood said.

“To reverse many decades of low-density, motor-vehicle oriented growth will take much more than the city rail link and other projects prioritised in the Auckland Plan.

“This finding helps explain why transport modelling of future land use and transport investment completed last year showed Auckland’s congestion worsening significantly over the course of the next thirty years, even with all proposed investment committed.

“But rather than retracting the compact city vision, SGS call for analysis of the productivity benefit that is expected from urban transformation. Where the Auckland Plan vision can be shown to boost national productivity, GDP and aggregate tax revenues there is a strong case for co-investment from central government. Increased economic performance more generally also substantiates the case for new funding sources, such as road pricing and value capture, which are key to achieving the Auckland Plan vision.

“Better understanding of these benefits may also help foster community and local board support, which has so far been an impediment to the scale of intensification proposed.

“We hope that this report will stimulate a joint Government and Council work programme to identify the productivity dividend that can be achieved through optimal investment in city shaping infrastructure. In NZCID’s view, this requires vast improvement in integrating transport investment and land use development, including more targeted densification to support major investment in public transport, and implementation of road pricing and value capture mechanisms.

“While the united Auckland Council is making great progress, stronger alignment and unity of purpose between central government and the Council is needed if the productive potential of Auckland is to be truly realised,” Selwood says.


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