By Bridget Gourlay
It doesn’t matter if you live in Flat Bush, Forest Hill or Freeman’s Bay. The long talked about supercity has happened and the same mayor, the same council and the same rules apply from Rodney to Franklin.
The point of the cities merging was to put an end to rampant bureaucracy. With the new supercity, the council is now focused on thinking about what is good for the whole region, not just ‘what’s good for my patch of grass?’ says Auckland Chamber of Commerce CEO Michael Barnett.
This means, (hopefully) a lot less bureaucracy and a lot more business confidence, he says.
Barnett says the fact that businesses are now dealing with just one agency is going to be beneficial. For example, in the past a company trying to do work in Manukau and the North Shore had to deal with two city councils and occasionally the Auckland Regional Council too.
“The reduction in duplication by having one agency to provide process means a faster decision for things like resource consent. For so long, it seemed that when projects came up the process part took longer than the implementation process.”
In the past, a builder had to adhere to one set of regulations in Otahuhu and then a set of different ones a few blocks further down in Manukau City. Barnett says there will no longer be different rules for different places, meaning tradespeople can learn one code and stick to it.
One ruling mayor and council also means one Long Term Council Community Plan (LTCCP). This means an end to the boundary disputes, clashes over where roads should be built and where transport networks should exist.
In the past, if the Waitakere City Council wanted to build a road into Auckland across one area, but the Auckland City Council wanted that area to become a local park, the issue stagnated for years as the two parties fought it out. People kept using the same, increasingly shoddy, jam-packed roads. But now, if the council wants to build a road, it can follow due process and build one, the same way city councils do in Whangarei and Wellington.
Having a unified LTCCP for the region means if the council decides on a direction for the city, every business can look at it and see how they can capitalise on it. For example, if the council decides it wants Auckland to attract more major Asia-Pacific conferences, businesses can see where venues are being built and create nearby hotels or restaurants.
Barnett says he is positive change will come, even if it’s not immediate. “In the first few months we’ll be lucky to see any change as systems bed down, but as we get into the first 12 months I would not only expect there to be changes, but improved delivery and improved efficiency.”