new auckland

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Growth crisis or business as usual?

Auckland’s urban growth challenges and corresponding infrastructure deficit are the subject of much discussion and debate from all sides of the political and community spectrum.

Our city’s significant and ongoing expansion over the past five years, on the back of long-term under-investment in essential infrastructure, has produced a perfect storm of social issues, which are now reaching a point of crisis and need of urgent attention.

Grossly inadequate housing supply and affordability are toxic ingredients in a potent mix, combining and contributing to environmental pressures such as degrading water quality, ever-increasing congestion on our roads, and pressures in healthcare and education.

Auckland Council and government agencies are struggling to develop adequate mechanisms to respond to the city’s growth and plan, or pay for, required infrastructure. Industry capacity and resilience is being tested to the extreme.

There is a silver lining to this perfect storm, however, in the great opportunity this growth is providing – Auckland is emerging from being a large New Zealand city to a successful and desirable small city on the global stage. The city is attracting new investment, talent and events, and continues to grow GDP and contribute to the country’s economic success. A truly thriving Auckland, competing toe-to-toe with cities across the Asia Pacific, is good for Aotearoa at large.

The flow-on positive effects (and associated pressures) of Auckland’s growth are also now being seen in our upper North Island neighbours – the so-called golden triangle of Hamilton, Tauranga and Auckland, and more recently in potential opportunities for Northland.

Auckland Council and government responses to date also ought to be applauded, such as ATAP, the 10-year, $28 billion Auckland Transport Alignment Project announced last year. Likewise the reforms signalled under the Government’s Urban Growth Agenda, the formation of the Urban Development Authority, and new infrastructure funding and financing, are all a great signal of intent.

While these initiatives and announcements are a promising start, do they move the dial far or fast enough?

Is the advertised $28b investment in transport infrastructure even adequate to meet the needs of our burgeoning city? Where’s the sense of urgency in actually investing this money in concrete activity on the ground? If we are calling it an infrastructure and housing crisis, then are we really responding accordingly?

Auckland needs a call for leadership from everybody involved, to respond to our city’s growth challenges like the crisis it is, and for all of us to recognise that we’re in this together; industry, Government and contractors.

Let’s up-the-ante in the discussion, let’s help government agencies and councils align, collaborate and work together, to join the dots and deliver the integrated outcomes Auckland needs to grow at scale and pace.

Let’s help Auckland realise the opportunity growth presents.

Next: Six experts give their views on What Auckland Needs Now.

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