11 Mar 2011

Govt says it won't pay for Auckland's dreams

7:10 pm on 11 March 2011

The Government says it is unlikely to be able to pay for any of the aspirations expected to be unveiled by the Auckland Council in its plan for the next 30 years.

It says Auckland should look at new ways of raising money.

Auckland's 30-year blueprint won't be unveiled for 10 days, but the Government has released eight detailed papers on its view.

One paper states unequivocally that there is unlikely to be additional central government funding; another rules out major new transport projects within a decade.

There are repeated references to the need to get better value out of existing investments, before building new ones.

The papers also suggest charging motorists to enter the downtown area, or coming up with targeted rates and charges as well as tapping into private funding.

Auckland's new civic authorities, including Mayor Len Brown, have repeatedly committed themselves to major new rail investment, but the papers emphasise the future dominance of motor vehicles and scarcely mention rail.

Released ahead of the council's launch of a development blueprint called the Spatial Plan, the papers say the city's current transport spending proposals are not aligned well with existing use.

Relaxing of ring-fence sought

The papers also say the ring-fencing of urban sprawl has pushed land prices up and the Government wants that policy relaxed.

Since 1999 Auckland has been limiting the spread of its outer suburbs, but the Government believes that that raises the prices of existing property and makes it harder for people to get into housing.

The legislation that created the new council requires it to work closely with the Government on the direction of the 30-year plan.

'Throwback to the 1960s'

A public-transport lobby group says the Cabinet papers are a throwback to the 1960s.

A spokesperson for the Campaign for Better Transport, Cameron Pitches, says they're based on transport use of the past, proposing continued investment in motorways when there will actually be greater demand for public transport.

Mr Pitches also says it's patronising for them to be released before the council holds its summit at which the Spatial Plan will be launched.