Grey Lynn 2030’s draft submission on the Auckland Plan discussion document

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Submission on Auckland Unleashed, the Auckland Spatial Plan Discussion Document by Grey Lynn 2030: Transition Community

About Grey Lynn 2030: Positive Vision, Practical Action

Grey Lynn 2030 is a participatory community organisation that facilitates and supports local focus groups working towards a positive, connected, sustainable, resilient community through practical action.

We take our terms of reference from the international Transition Town movement which encourages local communities to respond to current environmental and economic challenges with positive solutions that tap into the skills and innovation available in the local community. There are currently 55 Transition Town groups throughout New Zealand.

Grey Lynn 2030 has over 1200 direct subscribers to regular updates, we host monthly meetings and have active focus groups promoting community gardens, traffic calming, waste reduction, regeneration of local streams and a range of innovative activities that contribute to the community. We also have a lively website and over 2200 Friends on Facebook. Our steering committee is run by 5 volunteers.

Grey Lynn 2030 is based in Grey Lynn, Auckland, encompassing the surrounding neighbourhoods that are in the west side of the Waitemata Local Board area (including Westmere, Ponsonby, Freeman’s Bay, Herne Bay and St Mary’s Bay).

The Big Picture

Grey Lynn 2030 recognises the important role of spatial planning and the once in a lifetime opportunity provided by the Auckland Plan to set a strategic direction for Auckland.

Grey Lynn 2030 strongly supports the vision to make Auckland the most liveable city in the world and we believe that this will only be possible if the Auckland Plan responds to the challenges of climate change and the end of cheap oil. The Plan must take into consideration the impact of changing availability and prices of oil. The Plan must recognise the central place of the environment as underpinning the quality of life, economic and social wellbeing of Auckland and the limited timeframe available to take decisive action.

Just as many local communities are transitioning to meet these challenges, the Auckland region as a whole must transition to become more resilient, sustainable, connected, compact and efficient.

Recommendations:

  • Undertake an oil sensitivity analysis on the 30 year Plan to the effect oil prices rises will have.
  • Integrate reducing dependence on fossil fuels across the goals of the Plan
  • Strengthen moves to a low carbon economy across all policies

The Goals

An Auckland Plan that recognises the critical role of the environment will be best placed to achieve all goals that flow from the vision of Auckland becoming the most liveable city in the world.

It is not possible to achieve the goals in the plan if they are worked on in isolation. For example the carbon emission reduction targets within the people and environment section of the plan, are not achievable if isolated from the kind of economic activity we want to support or the kind of infrastructure being developed.

Grey Lynn 2030 supports reference to our unique connections with our land and water, green space, environmentally friendly living, strong rural values and connections and the protection of our ecological and culturally significant landscapes, our distinctive volcanic cones and lava fields, coastal, marine and bush areas.

However the eight goals currently proposed for the Auckland Plan fail to adequately address environmental issues. There are no goals that provide for Auckland’s unique natural environment and biodiversity. Consequently there is no goal that encompasses ecosystem functioning, biodiversity conservation or the value of protecting elements of the natural environment.

Recommendations:

  • Ensure goals support and reinforce each other e.g. prosperity based on innovative, sustainable practice
  • Identify, or utilise key shifts within the Auckland Sustainability Framework across the goals of the Auckland Plan so that they are shared across all operations and lead to integrated outcomes
  • Include a new goal “An Auckland that protects and enhances its diverse natural environment and the integrity of terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems”

The Environment, Waste and Climate change

Environment and waste:

We strongly support the priority to protect Auckland’s natural environment and become an eco-city. However the eco-city approach must be made broad enough to drive the whole environmental strategy for Auckland.  In addition we recognise that the eco city model is largely an urban model and that 90 % of Auckland is rural.  Therefore we ask that the eco-city model be extended and adapted to include rural areas and communities.

The protection of elements of the natural environment such as waterways, soils, landscapes, natural character, terrestrial, freshwater and marine biodiversity and the maintenance of ecosystem function must be encompassed by the high level goals.  And that these goals must be regional.  The natural environment does not recognise distinction between urban and rural areas of the region.

We are in favour of the Council’s aim to create a network of wildlife corridors across the region, and to enhance our parks and open spaces, protect streams and harbours from further pollution, and reduce our waste to landfill by 40% through gaining more control over the waste stream and encouraging local responses to waste minimisation (such as community compost facilities at the Wilton Street Community Garden and at Kelmarna Organic City Farm and through initiatives led by the Grey Lynn 2030 Waste Away group).

We support the regional extension of the Waitakere eco-city vision – joining the Waitakere Ranges to the sea through Project Twin Streams.   Within our own area we would like to see the volcanic cones reconnected to the harbour through natural stream corridors, local streams day-lighted (Coxs Creek, Edgars Stream) and sensitive coastal areas restored (Coxs Bay).

The effects of climate change, increased production costs and food shortages are already having a significant impact on global and local food prices.  The preparation of the Plan gives Auckland the opportunity to identify and protect the resources required to support future regional food production.  Given the predictions for Aucklands future population growth, and current dependence on transport, we also encourage the Council to consider the benefit to the city environment of encouraging more local food production (for example through community gardens and, school gardens, protecting rural land, soil and water for environmentally responsible farming, etc.). Urban trees must also be fully protected.

Within our area we have a number of community facilities that could support further urban food production– Kelmarna Organic City Farm, Grey Lynn Community Garden and the Wilton Street Community Garden. We also encourage fruit tree planting on Council land (Francis Street Orchard currently in development) and residents making use of the road side berms to grow trees and plants.

Recommendations:

  • Support local waste minimisation such as local composting facilities
  • Localising and owning our transfer stations, establishment of a network of local resource recovery centres.
  • All Auckland events on public land to be Zero Waste events.
  • Extend Smoke Free to include all public open spaces and parks to reduce cigarette litter contaminating our harbour and waterways and killing wildlife
  • A focus on Auckland as a world class city with world class waste and recycling systems such as EPR and CDL
  • Council support and accreditation for businesses that recycle, minimise carbon emissions and waste.

Climate Change

The Council has set an aspirational target of reducing Auckland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40% by 2025. We support this and also encourage the Council to set a long-term target of reducing our emissions by 90% by 2050.

However the plan doesn’t provide sufficient details on what the likely impacts of unchecked climate change will be over the next 30 years in terms of sea-level rise, flooding, food shortages and extreme weather events, and how the Council plans to adapt to these.

  • The response to the impact of climate change is extremely vague (paragraph 299). The Plan needs to be clear about avoiding new investment in hazard areas, and spatially identifying areas for planned retreat and for defence.

Grey Lynn 2030  supports the identification of strategies to reduce carbon emissions including clean energy, efficient buildings, decentralised renewable energy, public transport, local food production and waste reduction, walk ways, cycle ways and urban planning to reduce need to travel, electric and low emission buses and vehicles, planting carbon sinks and reducing organic waste in landfills.

We commend having a bold and necessary goal within the Plan for emissions reduction. This will not be achieved without integration across the Plan.

Recommendations:

  • Provide a clear and detailed plan for reducing emissions to achieve both targets for example through major investment in sustainable transport infrastructure and the use of more renewables to meet energy demand.
  • Integrate reducing carbon-intensive activity across the goals of the Plan.
  • Include contributing to a safe climate as part of  ‘putting children and young people first’.
  • Implement- Compact Urban Form- Transit Oriented Development (Intensification around transport nodes)
  • Protect the MUL
  • Identify areas of existing and potential food production and ensure that these areas and quality soils retain their productive capacity.
  • Refer to the benefits of meeting climate goals rather that the ‘costs of action on climate change’
  • Be transparent on what baseline year our goal is related to, not hiding it (is it 1990 or 2006?)
  • Plan for an immediate reduction to vehicles on the road- 44% of Auckland’s emissions are from transport.

Transport and Infrastructure

Transport

Grey Lynn 2030 strongly supports option three for Auckland’s future transport infrastructure. We believe that a heavy investment in improving our rail, bus and ferry systems is a key factor in making Auckland the most liveable city in the world. Dedicated, safe, connected walkways and cycleways, including a link over the Auckland Harbour Bridge must also be considered an integral part of Auckland’s transport network.

We would like the Council to prioritise completing the Central City rail link, rail to the airport and a rail link by tunnel to the North Shore within 30 years.

We believe this is the best option because it will give Aucklanders more transport choices and help meet the challenges of climate change, oil prices, energy efficiency, pollution and congestion.  Reduced private vehicle arising from Option 3 use will also provide considerable economic benefits to the region, as a result of improved health, social and community well being.

However, we are concerned that even in this third option the Council is not being ambitious enough. Given the challenges and anticipated costs of climate change, obesity, poor health, rising oil prices, air pollution and congestion we believe the Council should also consider:

  • changing our land use patterns to enable Aucklanders to make better transport choices (for example, providing for more local employment, mixed-use zoning, and removing harmful planning regulations such as minimum parking requirements that result in huge areas of unproductive land and reduced housing affordability)
  • improving the bus network to make it more efficient (for example, by developing a radial grid of bus services and allowing free transfers from one service to another)
  • Making cycling and walking safer and more enjoyable and investing in Travel Demand Management Programmes to achieve a significant shift to walking and cycling (e.g., 50% of trips by foot and cycle by 2040)
  • Extending and speeding up the delivery of the Regional Cycle Network (currently due to be completed no sooner than 2026)

Infrastructure

We believe the Council should look into ways of making better use of the waste, water and energy systems we have before investing in major infrastructure upgrades. Efficiencies in the use of landfills, water, and energy infrastructure could be achieved through such measures as encouraging recycling of organic waste, fixing leaking water pipes and encouraging passive solar design in new buildings.

We also believe the Council should make fixing the leaks in our storm water system and installing a filter to collect litter priorities to avoid further pollution of Auckland waterways and harbours.

Water-sensitive or low impact design features should be implemented along paved roads and car parks to reduce the amount of stormwater run-off and the burden on the stormwater reticulation. Rainwater tanks should be encouraged in many parts of the city to reduce run off and increase the self sufficiency of properties.

Housing & Urban Design

Housing

We support the proposal for most development to occur within the current Metropolitan Urban limits and to intensify Auckland’s compact urban form. This approach doesn’t require expensive infrastructure and has less environmental impacts. This will provide greater not less housing choice, be less expensive in infrastructure provision, be more sustainable, less energy intensive, leave a lesser carbon footprint and provide a better quality of life based around town centres.

There are ways in which the Council could act to improve housing affordability within a compact urban form:

  • change the parking regulations so that, rather than requiring new developments to provide a certain minimum number of parks (as regulations currently do), allow parking to be shared between a number of buildings and uses, and encourage direct pricing of parking when demand is high. This will lead to much less land being wasted on unproductive uses and encourage sustainable travel;
  • work to involve more third sector (e.g., not for profit) organizations in building affordable housing, providing long-term rental housing and in developing alternative ownership and funding models to facilitate security of tenure for both owners and renters;
  • ensure that when the Council identifies land outside the city boundary for re-development that these developments are centred on major public transport links (e.g., the Western rail line, the Southern rail line, the Northern Express busway) and that the public transport is provided before the development is occupied by residents;
  • Provide incentives for ‘brownfield’ redevelopments rather than greenfield, to balance out the higher economic risk profile for developers involved in the former.

We also urge the introduction of inclusionary zoning to require developers to provide a minimum proportion of affordable housing in their developments.

Urban Design

We support the strong emphasis placed in the Plan on improving the built environment of Auckland and ensuring good urban design. We believe this is a positive step forward. We support the Council’s proposals to:

  • identify a hierarchy of town centres which will help to guide appropriate levels of development in each area, recognising that one approach does not ‘fit all’;
  • remove barriers to the redevelopment and rejuvenation of local ‘mainstreet’ centres, so that local residents can have their needs met within walkabale distances;
  • discourage the development of new ‘megamalls’, or the expansion of existing malls, as they undermine local shops and promote the use of private vehicle transport;
  • introduce minimum sustainability criteria for new buildings such as rain colleciton tanks, solar heating; Commercial and apartments to include waste & recycling systems, onsite composting;
  • ensure that major buildings and developments are reviewed by an Urban Design Panel;
    require resource consents to include a design sheet outlining minimum standards for sustainable design criteria;
    make streets into public spaces that are used for recreation, rather than just for transit, through good design, public art, more use of shared space, and speed reductions and other traffic calming measures;
  • incentivise the development of grid street and pathway networks to make travel by foot and cycle more attractive;
  • increase access for disabled persons;
  • preserve our built heritage, cultural landscapes and archaeological sites through creating a well-integrated Heritage Plan, and giving it appropriate status to ensure a high level of protection;
  • Ensure that a Heritage Plan equally recognises and protects heritage and cultural landscapes and land use, including rural landscapes and streetscapes along with built heritage.
  • introduce “redevelopment” authorities which would mean that major sites could be developed to a very high standard of urban design.

Within our area we have identified roads that should be reconsidered as boulevards or avenues rather than just corridors for cars.  For example the re-design of  Great North Road between Ponsonby Road and Surrey Crescent and Richmond Road as “complete” streets would enhance the local character of this historic area, slow the traffic, provide for safe walking and cycling to local schools and shopping areas  and reduce the environmental impacts of what are currently vehicle dominated roads.

We therefore strongly support investing in the amenity of our streets and open spaces with a complete refocus away from roads just for cars.

Caring for People and Building Strong Communities

We support the strong priority placed on improving the well-being of children, reducing inequality, and building strong, inclusive communities that value ethnic diversity and are accessible to the disabled.

We particularly commend the Council’s goals around reducing inequality. Auckland has greater disparities between the poor and wealthy than any other city in New Zealand. International research shows that income inequality leads to poor social outcomes that affect everyone – such as increased rates of child abuse, obesity, mental illness and crime, all of which have widespread social and economic costs.  By taking measures to reduce inequality the Council may well also improve the well-being of children living in Auckland. While many measures to reduce inequality are not the responsibility of local government, one important way the Council can help to reduce inequality is by increasing the supply of high quality, affordable housing. This will reduce over-crowding, facilitate better long term engagement with education and health services, and make it easier for low-income Aucklanders to live with dignity.

We strongly support this strategic priority of strengthening and supporting diversity and the specific proposals within it. The inclusion of community development, community events and the fostering of diverse cultural expressions is required to make the world’s most liveable city for all citizens.

The Economy and prosperity based on sustainable business practices

The goal for “Auckland to be an internationally competitive, prosperous economy that benefits all Aucklanders through a step change in exports and internationalisation” is only achievable through development and implementation of strategic priorities that recognise that a transition to a resilient, sustainable, low carbon, “green” economy is essential to future prosperity.

The section on People and the Economy appears to have been written with no regard to the interaction of prosperity being linked to sustainable development and supporting goals.

Key aspects of a “green” economy that can drive prosperity include:

  • Economic regeneration and social enterprise
  • Support Buy New Zealand made and local Farmers and craft markets
  • Localisation as economic development
  • Community Asset ownership, social procurement and local tendering
  • Fostering green research, education and training

A ‘Can do’ council should give preference to and make it easier for those businesses and communities that want to do their part to contribute to an eco-City. There are many learnings that can be taken from Vancouver’s plans to become the greenest city in the world by 2020 through specific strategies to develop a “green” economy.

Recommendations:

  • Include ‘based on sustainable practice’ within the economic goals. Economic activity not based on sustainable practice will create further costs down the line.
  • Include policies that reward those businesses that have a positive (or reduced negative) impact on our environment, and penalise those who do not.
  • Incorporate strategies for developing a  “green” and local economy

We would welcome any opportunity to talk to this submission.

Grey Lynn 2030 Streering committee

This is our draft submission which will be finalised by 31 May. If you have any comments please email greylynn2030@gmail.com

Please use any aspects of the draft to submit your own comments on the Auckland Plandiscussion document.

You can have your say by:

Emailing to theaucklandplan@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz

On the Facebook Discussion page

You can post your comments to: Freepost Authority 237170, Auckland Council, The Auckland Plan, Private Bag 92300, Auckland 1142.

Or complete the online form (note the questions on the form do not cover all aspects of the discussion document)

Further reading

The Auckland Plan – Auckland Council’s website

EDS submission

Greens submission guide on the Auckland Plan

 

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