David Rankin is the chief executive of Panuku Development Auckland. Prior to amalgamation, he was the chief executive of Auckland City Council.
Auckland is a very different place to 2010 when the region’s eight authorities came together. The population has grown significantly, the communities are more diverse, and we’ve seen big changes in the way Aucklanders live, enjoy and get around their city.
Neighbourhoods around the region, including Hobsonville, Stonefields, the city centre and Wynyard Quarter have entirely changed. More Aucklanders are taking to apartment, townhouse and terrace living in a way that we would not have anticipated prior to amalgamation.
Bringing the different cities and districts together has enabled this to happen. One of the biggest benefits of amalgamation was to create a clear regional plan for growth, one set of planning rules and capital investment that enables the council to build infrastructure where it is needed, in a much more cohesive way. Unfortunately, some of the same funding challenges remain.
Our regional planning and investment support growth and development in our existing urban areas. We are able to more easily partner with central government and the private sector to deliver new homes and critical infrastructure.
At Panuku, beginning with its predecessor Waterfront Auckland, we have achieved a significant transformation of Wynyard Quarter with new homes, public spaces and commercial spaces from what was an underused industrial area.
The success of this approach is now being progressed in many neighbourhoods around the region. We are learning from the success of Wynyard Quarter and enabling more people to live close to town centres, public transport and making these centres future fit for existing and new communities. More housing choice is extremely important to manage the region’s growth, and Panuku is enabling 11,000 homes to be built with our development partners, with new apartments and townhouses under construction in our neighbourhoods already.
There are still many improvements to be made and more benefits to be realised. Amalgamation has resulted in significant projects being progressed, better co-ordination to deliver infrastructure together and a clear vision for the city that we can all work towards.