Auckland's Unitary Plan will be transformative for the city with proposals allowing enough commercial and industrial development to let business thrive, says a commercial real estate expert.
Alan McMahon, Colliers International's national research and consulting director, praised the Independent Hearings Panel's recommendations released yesterday, saying it was precisely what Auckland needed.
It is now hoped Auckland Council will adopt the plan but that won't be decided until next month.
McMahon said massive pressure was on to preserve enough Auckland land for commercial and industrial uses and the blueprint addressed that.
He outlined how critical the situation is, with pressure on land for offices, logistics, storage, warehouses and other commercial uses.
"With commercial, we've only got capacity in existing office buildings for an extra 10,000 people which is only three to four years' supply. With industrial, we've got record take-up of 70ha a year - the amount of Auckland land being used annually for industrial uses," McMahon said.
The plan in its current form would enable business to expand and cater to the city's rising demands, he said.
"A concern was that the residentially zoned land might spill into business zones, which are also employment zones," McMahon said.
"We're very much in favour of the intensification strategy, especially where that's around infrastructure, amenities and transport.
"The unitary plan is a facility for development and we're keen on that because we need it urgently," McMahon said.
Economist Shamubeel Eaqub also called yesterday for intensification, saying the city's future was at stake.
"Courtyard houses, townhouses, terraced houses. That's what the unitary plan wants. That's what the future residents want."
House prices were threatening Auckland's status as an internationally competitive city, he said.
Speaking at a MinterEllisonRuddWatts/Crowe Horwath breakfast, Eaqub said housing was not just a challenge in Auckland "but a crisis".
"Prices in Auckland are more expensive than in London, New York or San Francisco and we're not as competitive as those places.
"Auckland is on a potential path of greatness but we're shooting ourselves in the foot every day," he said, encouraging people to let go of the left-right political divide and engage more in resolving issues facing the city.
"Auckland's quality of life is compromised and it's become difficult to attract and retain staff. Yet these problems have been accumulating for decades."
McMahon said the plan's executive summary was particularly helpful as it outlined 28 main objectives.
"Removing density [restrictions] is good. Removing or reducing requirements for on-site parking also," he said, citing the council's drive towards more public transport use.
Enabling the growth and development of new or existing rural towns and villages was also laudable, McMahon said.
"The panel has also recommended removing the rural urban boundary and promoting new facilities in rural areas.
"But there's plenty of greenfields land in the rural urban boundary already and it's just a red herring," he said.
Colliers did not make a submission on the plan but McMahon said it had advised parties who did submit.