Most of us Kiwis would have been involved in an immensely significant event this month, the 2013 Census.
The information collected in the census helps local and central governments, community groups and businesses plan for the future.
The more accurate picture we have of the number of people and dwellings, and their distribution across the region and the country, the better we can plan for things like roads, parks, public transport and recreational facilities.
The census helps the Council to understand better the changing face of Auckland and prepare for service and resource improvements that reflect true demographic and population changes.
Auckland has always exceeded population projections, passing major population milestones in advance of expert projects and expectations.
Combine that with on-going under-investment in infrastructure and a legacy of decision making stymied by parochial attitudes, it is no wonder Auckland is facing some significant challenges.
The Harbour Bridge is perhaps Auckland’s most infamous example of botched future planning.
A bridge too short
Experts recommended six lanes with footpaths on both sides of the bridge.
The bridge authority decided to go ahead with five, and central government scaled it back to an ‘austerity bridge,’ with just four lanes and no footpaths.
It opened in 1959. With rapid growth on the North Shore, by 1964 it was carrying traffic volumes not anticipated until the mid-1970s.
Just 10 years after it opened, clip-ons’ were added either side.
Financial prudence is an absolute must for the Auckland Council.
But so is prudent and well-informed planning that anticipates future growth and need.
That was just one of the reasons it was so important for you, your family members, friends and colleagues to fill out your census form.
Integral to our future planning for Auckland is giving our people more options.
This is important for us to move around Auckland, and more options for where and how we live.
Facilitating a greater range housing options is just one of the things the Auckland Council aims to achieve with the new Unitary Plan, a single region-wide rulebook that sets out where and what we can develop and how we protect our environment and heritage.
It will be online and easier to use, simplifying the planning process, and saving time and money for homeowners, landlords and developers.
It will complement the Council’s Strategic Housing Action Plan,
In the first stage of the plan, the Council will put in place new tools that will help the housing sector respond to urgent need.
Auckland needs a comprehensive suite of solutions from agencies working in collaboration, including local and central government, private enterprise and developers, and social development agencies.
We need to focus on joint solutions that give Aucklanders a greater range of choices for where and how they live at all stages of their lives – single students or young couples starting out, young families, extended families with elderly parents, people working from home or living behind or above workplaces.
We also want to make it easier and more cost-effective to make houses warmer and healthier.
The Auckland Council has already done extensive consultation on the draft Unitary Plan though our 21 local boards and key stakeholders.
We begin wide public consultation on March 15.
You can find out more about the draft plan and how you can have your say, at the Council website, your local library or local board office.
Len Brown is Mayor of Auckland. The above article, written by him for our March 1 issue, was held over for paucity of space. The government has completed its Census 2013 but Mr Brown’s Unitary Plan needs your views. Visit www.shapeauckland.co.nz
Photo : The ill-planned Harbour Bridge (Picture Jay Farnworth for the Auckland Council)