Seminar on Auckland liveability with Dr Jim Bentley


Event Date: 17th of July 2013

Location: UCL, Room 2.10, Engineering Front Building (see:

We are pleased to announce that Dr Jim Bentley will be delivering a seminar on Auckland liveability on the 17th of July between 1.00pm and 3.00pm at University College London.

If you would like to attend please RSVP to Johanna Novales, 020 7679 2488,


Auckland is New Zealand's largest city region and economic powerhouse, containing 1.5 million people, or a third of the population of New Zealand. Current projections show that this is likely to be 2.5 million in 30 years, further increasing the proportion of the country's population living in Auckland.

Auckland is currently ranked the third most liveable city in the world in the 2011 Mercer Quality of Living Survey, while the Economist's World's most liveable cities index of 2011 ranked Auckland in 9th place. In 2010, Auckland was classified as a Beta World City in the World Cities Study Group’s inventory by Loughborough University.

In 2010 a new unitary authority Auckland Council was formed, combining the responsibilities of seven city and district councils and the regional council over its 4,894 square kilometres into the new Auckland Council. With this amalgamation came a new governance body of 20 Councillors and a directly elected Mayor and a number of “Council Controlled Organisations”: subsidiaries of the Council, overseen by Boards of Directors, including Watercare (responsible for all water and waste water across the region), Auckland Transport and Waterfront Auckland.

Previously Auckland had been constrained by fractured regional planning, territorial confusion between cities and competition for central government funding which had led to underinvestment in some areas and duplication of infrastructure in others, such as sports stadia, all leading to Auckland's historically poor economic performance. Notable gaps included a city waterfront locked up in port activities which excluded public access, a mismatch between land-use planning and transport planning, the lack of land for housing and business land, particularly the unpopular ‘group 1’ heavy and large industrial business activity and underinvestment in roading infrastructure for business and economic growth – notably transport links between the airport, business hubs and the port.

In the first year of the life of this new Auckland Council the Auckland Plan was published, expressing the Mayor's vision of Auckland as the “world's most liveable city” and describing the key measures including infrastructure investment which would be required. An Integrated Transport Programme followed shortly after the Auckland Plan – this document converted the aspirations of the Auckland Plan into a transport investment programme. It showed that investment in transport in Auckland would need to increase from the “business as usual” $36bn over the next 30 years to $60bn, highlighting the funding gap which has been considered by a recently established “Consensus Building Group” into alternative funding for transport.

The Council has now issued for consultation its Unitary Plan setting out its proposals for addressing the housing intensification challenges facing this growing population. Housing affordability is a major challenge for this region, as is social housing; the state housing provider, Housing New Zealand Corporation already owning 69,000 homes ($15bn asset value) and planning to build a further 1000 per year, mostly in the Auckland region.

When considering the challenges facing Auckland in its quest to become the world's most liveable city it is important that Auckland plays to its strengths, such as its pacific culture, world class education and levels of innovation, stunning landscapes, extensive coastal edge, active lifestyle opportunities, close-knit social networks, and the security of its geographic isolation; and that it recognises its weaknesses: poor public transport, isolation from markets, a small scale economy and limited capacity to add value to its primary produce exports.

Auckland, going into the future, will need to consider a number of factors including the politics (local and central) of a growing single city region which already contains one third of the population of the country, cultural concerns, especially those of Maori and Pacifica and the ever-changing cultural mix of society, the geography and natural resources including northern and southern harbours and a number of important volcanic cones, and the financing and governance of infrastructure which is provided by a range of central and local government organisations and the private sector.