19th May 2016
SuperCity planning and funding is leading to chaos.
With the Government and Opposition, both demanding the outward development of Auckland’s residential development,
Auckland ratepayers are under threat.
Anyone following the progress of the Unitary Plan through the Independent Hearings Panel will be wondering what effect
its decisions will have on the Council, which is now threatened with a Government take-over.
The Independent Hearings Panel is probably going to tell Council that its proposed zoning rules will not create enough
land to meet the housing demand of 400,000 housing units by 2041.
The Panel may conclude that the proposed zoning will only provide 240,000 units by 2030 and that the Unitary Plan must
therefore be changed to show where the balance of 160,000 housing units can be developed.
With both sides of politics demanding that the urban boundaries must be moved further out, the pressure on
infrastructure provision will become intense, and the question is “Who will pay for the provision of transport, water
and wastewater which are the minimum basic services needed?”
In normal circumstances the Council would fund new development public infrastructure out of additional loans.
But the latest budget from the Council reveals that it has almost reached the maximum prudent borrowing level, and if it
exceeds that level the credit agencies have warned the Council that its credit rating would probably be downgraded, with
resultant higher interest costs.
If that happens Auckland ratepayers would be faced with funding those higher interest costs, and significant rates
increases are inevitable.
If the Government decides to intervene, and the boundaries are moved out, it should be the Government’s responsibility
to fund those very significant infrastructure costs.
There is a sense of chaos around the Auckland Council – provisions in its Proposed Unitary Plan are being challenged by
the Government and Opposition; it’s ability to borrow for capital development is severely limited; it’s CRL project is
not funded and does not have a business plan; it’s public transport system is being widely criticised as being
unreliable; and now a Government threat to appoint a Commissioner.
There are few ratepayers and citizens who would claim the SuperCity has been a success.