How to create better community outcomes through property development

 

Renowned architect Jaron Lubin who has experience designing for compact cities such as Singapore, visited New Zealand recently and has advocated that developers should be given incentives to create good amenity outcomes and that policy makers should work more closely with developers to deliver better outcomes for our cities.

He shared that Auckland could emulate cities like Singapore and what they have successfully achieved through creative planning incentives.

The Park Place Residence in Singapore. Photo Credit: The Park Place Residence

The Park Place Residence in Singapore. Photo Credit: The Park Place Residence

Auckland's growth in development has great potential with the right government support given. 

I see two key takeaways from his comments, and whilst I'm not suggesting that Auckland tries to become a Singapore, there is:

1) a strong case for greater density closer to metropolitan and city centres which is the very thing that the Unitary Plan has done, so big tick to Auckland Council for achieving that and;

2) cities like Singapore reward developers for placemaking and promoting (read incentivising) developments that invest resource into greenspaces and amenity.

Point 1 has merit as it reduces pressure on the roads and encourages greater use of public transport. Auckland has a long way to go to provide a decent public network but it is improving with the likes of the CRL.

On point 2, I was having lunch recently with a local architect and we discussed this very issue where developers, if given the opportunity to create amenity and place making initiatives, the whole community would stand to gain. Currently this is difficult to achieve and there is no formal incentive process to do this.

Given how expensive it is to develop without this, we are a long way off by not having local government initiatives to encourage this sort of thing.

Many developments are not stacking up due to the high cost of construction and infrastructure charges. Not to mention the high cost of land. Don't even get me started on funding constraints. All these things combined, makes many a project difficult to stack up. And this doesn't even begin to touch on the commercial risk involved when undertaking a development project.

If developers were encouraged through incentives to create better spaces for the community then I see this as no bad thing.

I would also love to hear your thoughts / feedback on whether initiatives like this should be given more credence at the local government level. Do reach out to me here.