Any immediate thoughts about Hobsonville?
When I was thinking about Hobsonville, that’s a nice thing about it; you’re building to a community which is quite contained. The population in 2006 for the area was 3500. It’s unbelievable the growth here. The other thing I love about being out here is that you’re still accessible to everything. North Shore is easy to get to, the motorway; once you get the tunnel in under Mt Albert and that will open it all up. The city is quite accessible. We can bump the ferries up and bump the other transport options. Cars will still play a role. What can we do in the interim, which is the ferry, northern busway through here, trains … we do need to work out either a busway or trains through to Helensville; we got to sort that!
How do you make the rules/criteria around development very clear, and the unitary plan is supposed to be helping that clarity?
So clear rules will help. The second thing is how do you get through the council consenting process faster, so at the moment if you are developing a big piece of land as a single developer it is hard to go through that process let alone if you have got a range of smaller developers trying to do it. So I think if that part of the process if we could make that more seamless and easy. You know, you hear stories from the big developers around the most minute piece of detail around the development, and you think that’s not even relevant to a council so why are they focussing on that!
Are you worried about the Unitary Plan? Has it gone in the right direction in most parts?
I think in most parts it is, there isn’t a strong enough link between intensification and the main public transport routes and so I think we need to look at that. The great example is intensifying the West: Kumeu/Riverhead, Huapai through to Helensville. Where is the public transport against that? Same in Howick, Pakaranga, and Alfreston. There’s no public transport through there. Then you look at on the North Shore at areas you could intensify, the northern busway, and it’s not zoned for intensification, so we need to look at that. Previous regional planning set up satellite cities within Auckland and they did their own infrastructure and with the supercity merge all areas now seem unplanned and aimless.
Are you apprehensive about what you are going to find within council if you take the helm? Entrenched public servants/unaccountable areas etc.
No! Not at all, so for me I relish that level of challenge and I look at it from the perspective of if we can’t get Auckland Council into an organisation that has a core competency in infrastructure development; is incredibly transparent, accountable and engaged with communities and fixing some of these problems that we have Auckland is stuffed, in 5 years we are stuffed. So there are different points at which you are forced to change as an organisation. We have a choice now where we can change, in 5 years we will be forced. It is way worse when you are at that point of crisis. I’m a big believer from my business experience that the best person to attack you is yourself, so I believe in that philosophy for council, it is clear from all of the outcomes (key metrics) and they are not meeting any of their goals. Someone is going to say enough. So actually let’s fix it ourselves before someone else sets the rules for fixing it. I want to rebuild the heart of council from the bottom up in a way that connects with Aucklanders. It would be harder for a commissioner to do that as they want short term outcomes.
I am a really strong leader, and I will use every lever available to me, and some will be short term, to get the market moving or other outcomes we need.
– Geoff Polglase