Penny Hulse: Good urban design major part of city's blueprint

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Auckland's population is projected to swell to 2.5 million in the next 30 years. Photo / Natalie Slade
Auckland's population is projected to swell to 2.5 million in the next 30 years. Photo / Natalie Slade

Aucklanders will soon be asked to have their say on a plan that will shape the way our city grows over the next 30 years.

The new Unitary Plan aims to enshrine good urban design into Auckland's planning and put an end to past decisions that led to "shoebox" apartments and unattractive developments.

Such a plan has never been more necessary or timely for Auckland. We are fast moving from being a small city to a world city.

Our population is projected to swell to 2.5 million in the next 30 years, and around 400,000 more homes will be needed to support this growth.

We will also grow rapidly as a hub for businesses and entrepreneurs and a destination for international visitors.

Auckland is predicted to deliver another 275,000 jobs by 2041, just over half of which are expected to be located in the central area, with a further quarter located in South Auckland.

To meet the challenges this rapid growth presents, we are developing a single plan for Auckland.

Our aim is to protect and enhance Auckland's character, while enabling strong economic growth and making us an even more liveable and desirable place to be.

The draft unitary plan will be released on Friday for public feedback. In the 10 weeks following, we want to have an open discussion about the things that Aucklanders value most.

The discussion will include everything from heritage and environmental and coastal protection, to heights in and around our town centres, to minimum apartment sizes, density of business areas and protection of productive farmland.

Importantly it also includes how we can ensure a good mix of housing options that meet the needs of all Aucklanders, now and in the future. People want different types of housing at different times in their lives.

A lot of young people and a lot of retired people want to live where they can give up their car, live close to public transport, and live in town. Others will want to live further out to enjoy more green space. A great liveable city will give them a range of options.

That's why our plan looks at a broad mix of housing options. There will be some apartments and terraced houses in town centres, as well as in the metropolitan centres like Manukau, Takapuna and New Lynn. But there will also be some land release and development around the edges of Auckland.

But the key point is that, finally we are going to enshrine good urban design into planning for our city. This means that as intensification happens - over the next 10, 20, even 30 years - it will be with the right character, good urban design and great public spaces. And if we get the blueprint right it will put an end to the sort of bad planning decisions in the past that led to poorly designed apartments and low quality housing.

I'm personally looking to move to an apartment out west to enjoy a bit more of what our vibrant centres have to offer.

So please, from Friday, take the time to look at the draft plan, try out the new online map that makes it easy to see what you'd be able to do with your land, see what it means for your community - and above all have your say.

Go to www.shapeauckland.co.nz to watch a short video, find out more and get ready to join in the conversation.

Penny Hulse is deputy mayor of Auckland.

- NZ Herald

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