NZ Initiative report unbalanced
Youth organisation Generation Zero is disappointed at the narrow analysis in the New Zealand Initiative report ‘Up or Out: Examining the Trade-offs of Urban Form’ particularly the limited acknowledgement of the costs of density restrictions, our changing demographics and the negative impacts of urban sprawl on commuting, transportation costs and carbon pollution.
Generation Zero spokesperson, Dr Sudhvir Singh remarks, “This report could have been an opportunity to take a comprehensive look at how we design our cities; instead, the NZ Initiative has performed a very narrow analysis and selectively looked at American case studies which are of questionable relevance to New Zealand.”
The report does not factor in the cost of transportation or the need for cities to reduce carbon pollution in their analysis. For example, Auckland Council has a goal of reducing Auckland’s carbon pollution by 40% by 2040, in line with other leading international cities’ efforts to mitigate climate change. Dr Singh notes, “The Initiative fails to appreciate the importance of cities reducing their carbon pollution and providing housing and transport choices for their citizens. The Initiative seem to endorse a model of planning that will result in more car-dependent urban sprawl, which locks us in to a future of more carbon pollution, more traffic congestion, and less transport and housing choices.”
Over the next 30 years, couples without children and one-person households will be the most rapidly growing household type in Auckland. Dr Singh comments, “The NZ Initiative’s report does not account for Auckland’s changing demographics and trends. Of particular importance is the shortage of smaller dwellings in our housing stock, and the preferences of Aucklanders of all ages to have a range of housing and transport choices close to what’s important to them.”
While acknowledging how restrictive planning rules interfere with the market’s ability to provide affordable housing, the NZ Initiative selectively criticises Councils for proposing urban limits. Dr Singh explains, “Auckland’s Unitary Plan and the Special Housing Areas have enabled a huge amount of urban sprawl outside the current urban limit and imposed strict height and density controls in the existing urban area. If the NZ Initiative’s report was balanced they would have examined the impact of these density restrictions more closely.”
The NZ Initiative’s report also contradicts the Government’s recent submission to the Auckland Unitary Plan which acknowledges the significant demand for more housing in inner Auckland. The Government's submission comments on the restrictiveness of density controls.