Vision and Town Planning

I know some great planners and architects in Auckland and other cities.

So why is it that every time we get a chance to do something important in the city – it is all presented as a fait accompli by some bureaucrat or other vested interest at break neck speed and in a brain dead way?

Is vision and town planning mutually exclusive?  Certainly seems like it.

I liked the Jasmax bridge /tunnel idea a few years back. Doesn’t matter that it won’t fly. It was a much better way of engaging debate than we usually get and showed a boldness of vision lacking in the present city management milieu.

If this is the way that a united Auckland council is going to operate than who needs it.

I personally think the super city is being set-up to fail so that the choice parts can be privatised when it becomes obvious that it won’t work.

Where is the vision and the passion and the grass-roots support?

Here are two projects from NY that are worth reflecting upon.

“In this video, Friends of the Highline co-founder Robert Hammond tells the story. ” I found this video at CoolHunting.

And Majora Carters story  still resonates even after a few years it – is still inspiring.

“Majora Carter is dedicated to fighting “environmental racism” in her hometown of New York’s South Bronx. She’s working not just to hold back the polluters who target neighborhoods like hers but to bring back the green..”

“In an emotionally charged talk, MacArthur-winning activist Majora Carter details her fight for environmental justice in the South Bronx — and shows how minority neighborhood suffer most from flawed urban policy.”


Now back to planning a future for Auckland. “The council will be calling for designs on how to transform the sheds soon and wants to get work underway by the start of 2010.” Lets offer some visionary and useful ideas for this project.

It is easy for us to say the stupid shed on the waterfront is yet another dumb idea that we don’t want and the super city is also not a smart trade-off between community and getting things done.

But we also need to make submissions on this and other projects.  Is super-city (for example) just another giant power grab by a few people disguised as better local government  or am I being a bit too cynical?

We should take note of planning submissions like this one from GL2030 Submission on the Supercity which argues against the supercity.  Or write a better one.

We do need far better governance – but we also need better visionary thinking on city planning. New York’s Highline and Hunts Point Riverside Park can show us the way.

We have a chance to be bold and build communities – lets get some vision in the mix. What about it Auckland?

Update: 10 July 2009 Interesting to hear Phil Goff’s take on the National Party and Rodney Hide.

Interview from Werewolf Magazine

(Phil) Goff : Take the Super City as an example. I mean, Rodney Hide is quite clearcut in what he says. He wants to privatise the assets of the Auckland region – the ports, the remaining shares in the airport, the water supply.

Ah, Bill English said in an unguarded moment on tape, that he wanted to do that as well but not necessarily in the first term.

The fact that they have emphasised the first term as the constraint on privatisation is a clear indication that they will move, given the chance, to privatise in the second term.