The manufactured roadblocks to the Unitary Plan



We are at the end of 3 months of intensive community consultation on the draft Auckland Unitary Plan so it is a good time to reflect on the key issues that have been raised by communities.

One of the biggest discussions over the last month has focused on whether infrastructure and transport are ignored in the Unitary Plan. As we plan for the gradual intensification of our city over the next 30 years people want to be confident that we have also planned well for provision of public transport, ferries, parks, schools and community facilities.

As we have met with communities all over Auckland, it has become clear that the wider infrastructure plans for Auckland are not well understood. As a result, people presume that we are not thinking about this and headlines and commentary have popped up outlining worst-case scenarios (many of which are not even possible under the draft Auckland Unitary Plan).

New housing and business developments in Auckland will only occur with adequate infrastructure in place. The draft Auckland Unitary Plan has specific sections on infrastructure. It sets out rules to ensure efficient and secure development, operation and upgrading of infrastructure. However, it is wrong to expect that the Plan deals or must deal with all aspects of infrastructure.

The Unitary Plan is a Resource Management document. It is the planning toolbox to implement the Auckland Plan. The Unitary Plan does not include funding. The 10-year budget includes provision for the funding for roads, water supply, wastewater, stormwater and parks that will be built in response to growth. Nor does the Unitary Plan replicate what we have detailed in our integrated transport plan, open space strategy and the ongoing collaboration between Council and the Ministry of Education regarding future planning for schools.

What’s important to me is that community feedback has shown us that Council needs to make these supporting plans and conversations more visible and easier to understand. We also need to make clear that Council is well aligned to community thinking, particularly when it comes to transport. Only more roads is not the answer. This is why it is so important that Council continues to have a strong say on regional transport planning. The Land Transport Management Amendment Bill, the latest government legislation focused on Auckland, certainly makes that seem more and more difficult.


  1. it’s pretty clear that what the wider community thinks is ‘planning’ and what is actually ‘planning’ under the RMA are two separate things.

    The public never bought into the neo-liberal ethos of RMA planning and reverts to what they understand (and the common plain sense definition of) ‘planning’ to be.

    Either amend the RMA, or alternatively ‘bundle’ plans together and call it ‘planning’.

    • Given that one is a government act, and one is a council document you are barking up the wrong tree.

      • Given that the government act (RMA) specifically creates the District Plan I’ll suggest that you are very much mistaken.

  2. Thanks Penny – I know it was not an simple process.

    Especially when some news papers were light on facts – and misleading in there reproduction of maps. Funny how the full explanation of the colour codes on the maps present in the Western leader, was happily left out in a story a couple of weeks ago, and only a partial one was present to support the journalist view point. And when I went on-line and looked at council papers it told a different story.

    Here, silly old me thinking, the media’s role was to help people understand the issues.

    So again, thanks for all your hard work on this issue.

  3. Good article clarifying the situation, have to agree this was not clear throughout the previous 3 months and the need to better communicate how the Unitary Plan integrates with other important planning tools is a major lesson from this first round of feedback. If more people had better understood this point from the beginning we may have had less apprehension and misunderstanding. At least it’s being made clear now.

  4. Excellent Insight documentary on the relationship between the Government and Auckland City Council on National Radio last night (Monday). Noticeably absent were any representatives from the Government who either refused to be interviewed or were told not to give interviews. It was an opportunity to put their case but they decided lending their voice to a documentary produced by the country’s own national radio station was not appropriate. As the elected representatives of New Zealander I would have thought they would oblige us with their perspective for their actions.

    • It is disappointing that property owners have not been consulted before the plan was developed and yet another set of regulations are being imposed on private property.
      It is also of concern that there has been no serious critique of the proposed population growth. It has taken Auckland 170 years and several boundary changes to get to 1.4 million. Why would it grow by a million in the next 30 years. It is inconceivable ( no pun intended) that 66% of the population growth would come from our sons and daughters especially when the talented ones leave for overseas.

  5. Well done Penny & the team which I believe are doing a great job & keep up & don’t be put off by the naysayers & agenda pushers.
    The task is so important & so is the future plan for Auckland which has to Plan To Work & Work The Plan.
    I await the review of the plan which I believe will be worked on well.

  6. Just like to praise Penny Hulse and Len Brown and all the team. I think developing the Unitary Plan has been a huge job and they should be commended.

Comments are closed.