Dodgy Auckland Council report misleads on compact city

Auckland Council are at it again with fudged numbers and reports to try to support their beloved compact city.

And it really calls into question the rationality of the brass who just won’t let go of a losing argument.

Yesterday Council finally released a report that they had been trying to bury. Of course the MSM have picked up on it in part, but only to quote the wrong paragraphs. Hardly a surprise.

I’ve said before that ?the arguments for intensification are tripe. Nothing more so than the ‘cost arguments’ that are touted. Rather than accept that sprawl produces very cost effective homes comapred to intensification the advocates of compact cities complicate the argument by adding in all manner of other costs that they say make up the total true cost of housing. Like transport and infrastructure for example. Lately the arguments for travel have been thwarted by a sudden decline in the cost of fuel making all the reports and cost estimates touted int he last few years irrelevant. Now Auckland Council is trying to argue that the infrastructure costs to let the city continue outwardly sprawling – is too expensive – and that it is cheaper to make it compact.

In short they argue that the costs of installing pipes for water, sewer and storm water along with roads and public transport – is more expensive for greenfields. Bollocks. Developers of greenfield land always pay for the infrastructure and give it to Council for free, whilst network connections are repaid to councils through development contributions. End cost – nought. Free. Zip razoo.

And ironically their own report agrees. Which is why they tried to bury it. ?

I like this quote from page 7 of the report in which it says:

‘…in brownfield areas, the network infrastructure generally is already in place and, where there is spare capacity in the network, the marginal cost of providing infrastructure to an additional household in these areas is found to be comparatively low. However, the average cost of expanding the network to cater for growth in these locations may well be higher than in greenfield locations.”

So, in a nutshell Council’s own consultants have concluded that intensification is only cheaper where it concerns infrastructure -?IF?- the existing infrastructure doesn’t need to be replaced to increase capacity to receive the new dwellings.

But virtually all of Auckland’s pipes are at capacity. In major parts of the CBD and surrounding isthmus suburbs like Ponsonby, Eden Terrace and Newmarket the water pipes are old and calcified and operating on reduced pressure to stop them blowing. Sewer and storm water pipes are at or over capacity. In short the infrastructure has no spare capacity.

And thats the point many in the property industry have been making – that the infrastructure is stuffed and it costs far too much to replace it.

What’s more – the report goes on to say that obtaining historical data from Council or other sources was difficult and that ?Watercare or Stormwater were unable to provide data on operating costs. Or perhaps didn’t want too?

Council is really trying hard to push it’s own barrow but the evidence simply doesn’t support the compact city. So how long will we put up with it for?

Time for someone to step in to resolve the mess.