The opportunities and lifestyle that attract people to Auckland are at risk if we don't address challenges created through the city's high rates of population growth — one of the highest in OECD countries.
Auckland's growth challenges parallel many of those facing our close neighbour, Sydney.
Australia's economic powerhouse faces vast geographic imbalances in terms of jobs, amenities and services such as healthcare, education and public transport. It has a growing infrastructure backlog, as well as critical issues around land scarcity and housing affordability.
The recently released Sydney Manifesto is a provocative proposition to guide Sydney towards a future of 8 million people by 2050. It identifies key trends and provides a clear "to-do" list to tackle the liveability, affordability and productivity constraints that threaten the city.
Innovative solutions are urgently needed; 10 "big moves" are proposed in response to 10 key trends, each supported by critical implementation actions.
The similarities between Sydney and Auckland are numerous. I'll consider two of the big trends in the context of Auckland.
Like Sydney, Auckland is facing a growing infrastructure bottleneck. While Auckland enjoys a thriving economy, the city lacks adequate infrastructure to realise its full potential and maintain its brilliant lustre. A successful city is a growing city, but among the side effects of success are congested roads, reduced public realm amenity and a lack of options for journeys. Traffic congestion is a grave concern, leading to lost productivity and delays for commuters. Recent estimates put the cost of congestion in Auckland at $2b a year.
Like Sydney, Auckland has a housing affordability crisis. As prices continue to jump, it is widely acknowledged the problem is complex. The dream of owning a home is ubiquitous; rethinking delivery and density will see more Aucklanders achieve their goal.
The first "big move" — to establish a new governance model — is common to all trends identified in the Manifesto. Auckland's current hyper-growth requires new levels of governance to drive efficiency to make the most of scarce resources in shaping the city for future generations. This approach has infiltrated the private sector, where technology and new collaborative approaches are making work practices more competitive and forcing businesses to "do more with less". The same fundamentals can be applied to the city's leaders; those with the most power to shape the city's future. While Auckland's governance structure is quite distinct from that of Sydney's, the principle of embedding true collaboration through technology and strong leadership, is the most important step in retaining Auckland as one of the most liveable cities on this planet.
The second big move relevant to Auckland is the delivery of "next generation" corridors.
As we plan new areas of the city, we have the opportunity to combine plans for mass transit, housing and employment, essential infrastructure and open space to create truly connected communities that respond to needs of future generations. The Transport Agency's Supporting Growth Alliance project is long-term corridor planning at the city scale, aiming to support new housing and business areas in the region over the next 30 years.
The Sydney Manifesto is a detailed guide to support business and government with ambitious reform. It isn't just about more road and rail, it's about how we embrace technology to plan, govern and deliver the right projects in the most equitable way.
Auckland has an opportunity to learn from Sydney as its successful future is designed, planned and delivered.
10 key trends
(most of which Auckland shares with Sydney)
● A city of haves and have-nots
● A population with diverse needs
● A growing infrastructure bottleneck
● A procurement and delivery model well past its best
● A housing affordability crisis
● A city dealing with critical land scarcity and sub-optimal land use
● An economy facing disruption
● Trailing the smart city leaders
● A fast-changing energy mix
● Growing vulnerability to stresses and shocks.
● James Rosenwax is Aecom's Cities Market Sector Director for Australia and New Zealand and author of the Sydney Manifesto. The full document can be found online here.