AucklandJuly 27, 2016

Some graphs that show the new Unitary Plan is both great and extremely embarrassing for our worst councillors


The new and improved Unitary Plan is a slap in the face to our anti-density councillors and their ashen-faced supporters. We plucked out a handful of graphs that really tell the story.

There was a lot of monotone droning at Auckland Council’s briefing on its new Recommended Unitary Plan. We were told about PAUPs, MHUs, and THAs. Feasible capacities and enabled capacities. But between the lines of planner speak, there was one consistent message: the council was being owned. Devastatingly burned. Mercilessly razzed.


Senior council planner Penny Pirrit started off by saying the Independent Hearings Panel charged with coming up with the new plan broadly agreed with the council. That was like saying Earth and the Andromeda Galaxy are broadly part of the same universe. In reality, the panel had taken our councillors’ inadequate proposals, placed them in a locked safe, and thrown them into the sea. In their place it had installed an actual plan – one that has a chance of ensuring we’re not still reading about the Auckland housing crisis after Donald Trump ushers in the Apocalypse.

It was great; a rare flash of light in Auckland’s dark night of the house. But the raw document is also dense and difficult to understand. In the interests of communicating its good news to the masses, we’ve collected a few simple graphs to help you get to grips with what a surprisingly adequate friend we have in this new plan.


This graph is extremely embarrassing for Dick Quax, all supporters of Dick Quax, and any aspiring Dick Quaxes. Its first bar shows the council’s woeful first attempt at a Unitary Plan. The second is the one it had to hand in instead because its original document was such an awful shitburger*. The third is the new recommendations.


The 422,000 dwellings allowed in the new Recommended Unitary Plan (RUP) is almost double what the council proposed in its original Unitary Plan. Instead of being 187,000 homes short of projected demand, the plan is now projected to oversupply the market by 22,000. That seems like a big deal. In practice it looks like the picture below.

* Council promptly threw this plan out for being too close to adequate.


The first image shows the Unitary Plan as it was proposed by the council. The second shows everything the IHP added. The third is the plan as it stands.

Red means higher density increases. Lower density increases are in green. There’s a lot more colour on the second two maps. Basically, the map of what the IHP added to the council’s plan is more impressive than the council’s plan.

It’s a big win for the forces of sanity. But once you drill down a little further, you start seeing stuff like this.


Bad news non-trillionaires: you’re still never going to live in Herne Bay.

These two maps show the leafy hamlets just west of the CBD, where milky-white aristocrats recline in stately villas along the banks of the Waitemata. There’s not a huge amount of difference between the two images, meaning house prices in the area are likely to stay in the $1 – $1.5 billion range for the rest of eternity.

Other suburbs will have reason to feel aggrieved.


For more suburb-by-suburb breakdowns, go to this excellent Twitter feed. Basically, they show some of the richer suburbs are getting off lightly. Having said that …


The original council plan only allowed for 39% of new development inside existing urban areas. The IHP’s plan ups that figure to 64%, even while expanding the amount of land available for development by 30%. That means a more compact city focused around public transport hubs; one where future Aucklanders have a chance to avoid uncontrollably weeping their way through four hour commutes from the Kaipara Harbour every morning.

It’s both a step along the road to creating a city that young people can still live in and a surgical critique of every nostalgic anti-density Boomer that’s eked out a whinging submission to council. Freed of the shackles of groaning ratepayer groups, the IHP did what it thought was right for Auckland – and it mainly sided with the Generation Zeros of the world.

But there are more hurdles. The plan goes to the council in August. It will undoubtedly be blasted by a full-force tsunami of terrible opinions. We’ll be covering everything that happens in our new War for Auckland section. Please follow us on our journey into the abyss.

The War for Auckland is a Spinoff pop-up section devoted to the 2016 Unitary Plan and local elections. To support our journalism, click here.

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