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Development Authority needs help

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Mark Thomas

Auckland Council’s Development Authority is falling behind schedule.

The government’s creation of an urban development authority could be a welcome boost.

This approach seems to mirror my growth plans for Auckland.

Deferred Plans

The Council’s development company, ‘Panuku Development Auckland’ (PDA), has deferred an update on its Onehunga ‘transformation’ plans and has been too slow off the mark in Takapuna. This has allowed more than 400 people to sign a petition opposing redevelopment of the 30 years old Takapuna market site – a priority area for new housing under current council plans.

I am also concerned that the Tamaki redevelopment project, being shepherded by PDA, is still moving too slowly.

John Key’s statement the government is considering an urban development authority to make faster progress building new Auckland housing and infrastructure could be the ‘kick up the pants’ Auckland needs.

PDA launched with a bang nine months ago and, despite a lot of talking and planning, is being hamstrung by council in making faster progress.

Auckland needs an urban development authority with genuine authority to ‘crack on’ with building our desperately needed housing, transport and water infrastructure.

Special Development Areas

I have already announced plans to establish what I call, ‘Special Development Areas,’ where the need for new housing is acute. These will replace the Special Housing Areas which expire in October and allow faster house building in key areas such as Onehunga, Henderson, Manukau and Takapuna.

My SDA’s will see council take a more active role resolving problems and move into the development phase more quickly. I will reprioritise council funding to achieve this if necessary.

We also have a significant infrastructure deficit in Auckland caused by our speed of growth.

I will make it easier for private sector infrastructure providers to compete in Auckland using the existing targeted rate mechanism.

Under this scenario, home-owners would pay directly for water and other services and receive discounted council rates to compensate.

I am the only mayoral candidate who is prepared to use existing council assets to help fund the infrastructure gap.

From ports to roads

I want Aucklanders to agree to ‘swap’ half the value of the airport shares as well as the port company into transport and other assets that are a higher priority.

About $45 million per annum dividend loss from reduced airport and port assets would be more than compensated by a reduction in the more $1.25 billion a year in lost productivity the OECD estimates our traffic congestion is costing Auckland.

Any government support to make changes to development contributions rules would be welcome but I would press on with my plans.

Mark Thomas is a Mayoral Candidate in the local government elections due to be held in October.

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