Local boards have role in business improvement

By Tony Garnier

Photo / Glenn Jeffries
Photo / Glenn Jeffries

The huge scale of the challenges facing Auckland to ensure it continues to be a well-functioning city while it continues to experience rapid growth is reinforced in Auckland's Economic Development Strategy.

A section in the strategy provides an over-view of the critical, resilient infrastructure needed in a long-term action plan it proposes be developed to support Auckland's expected population growth over the next 20 years - i.e. 500,000 more Aucklanders or, crudely, five Dunedins.

As well as housing, continued investment will be required across a range of infrastructure in Auckland's central city and town centres to ensure they remain accessible and attractive areas for business, employment and social interaction.

To meet this need, at least 1400 hectares of additional business land will be needed to meet expected growth of 12.5 million sq m of new floor space over the next 30 years. This represents an additional 275,000 jobs by 2041, just over half (51 per cent) of which are expected to be located in the central city, with a further quarter in south Auckland.

The release of greenfield land to meet this demand will be undertaken in a phased approach aimed at ensuring there is a forward supply of unconstrained business land capacity, earmarked for particular purposes (especially Group 1 industrial land).

Meanwhile business precinct plans will continue to be compiled, providing an integrated framework to foster and manage growth by considering how transport, land use, built form, infrastructure and open space influence the development of each business area. Work is under way on Tamaki, Penrose and Rosebank precinct plans, and those proposed for Wiri, North Harbour, Wairau Valley and Greater East Tamaki business areas.

The plan provides for local boards to have the day-to-day relationship with Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), of which Auckland has 46. The arrangement is that boards and BIDs are joint partners in a programme, covering activities related to street environment improvement, town centre clean-ups, safety and security, marketing and promotion, events, local improvement, advocacy, communications, and business development and networking.

The Local Board - BID programme is still in its early stages, but it is already apparent that success will depend on the relationship developed between the various groups. There is also concern in some quarters over value for ratepayer money from some of these services and the potential for duplication of already existing private sector services.

The EDS initiatives to ensure Auckland has well-functioning economic infrastructure also envisage a co-ordinated action plan between the council, its CCOs, central government and the private sector which embraces the provision of broadband, energy, water supply, gas, ports, airports, labour, transport, and involves innovation centres and strong public/private partnerships.

The critical importance of the search for new ways to fund infrastructure is noted, as is the need to find innovative regulatory and financial tools that will help Auckland achieve its economic growth aspirations and manage projected population growth.

Finally, there is a recognition that Auckland Council's investment also needs to align with national and private sector investment to enable improvements in productivity.

According to the EDS, a key role of council is to invest in public infrastructure that fosters the conditions for greater private sector investment (i.e. through a multiplier effect).

A good example of this is Manukau Institute of Technology's decision to co-locate its tertiary campus with the Manukau integrated transport hub.

- NZ Herald

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