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What’s Auckland's Future Development Strategy?

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

Auckland Council has recently published a draft (consultation) Future Development Strategy. The Future Development Strategy is a central planning document aiming to manage growth in Auckland for the next 30 years. At the time of writing (June 2023), the document is a draft, and Auckland Council is accepting submissions until 31 July 2023.


From 2023- 2053 the Auckland population is expected to grow by 520,000 people and this strategy sets out a framework for where development to support these people, and existing residents, should occur and how development should change. It also seeks to address climate change, natural hazards and environmental degradation.


The vision of the Future Development Strategy is:


Auckland’s built environment will underpin the development of prosperous, inclusive, and vibrant communities. Quality development will help to regenerate the environment and deliver our commitments to greenhouse gas emission reduction as we grow and change.




But what does this look like, in the proposed strategy?


Development within existing urban areas

The draft strategy seeks to reduce urban sprawl, suggesting that most growth should be focused in existing urban areas where it can also make the best use of existing infrastructure. Significant development capacity has already been enabled within the existing urban area through the Auckland Unitary Plan and more will be enabled by proposed Plan Change 78 (although this plan change process is currently on hold, more information here).


Why focus development in the existing urban areas?


The Future Development Strategy sets out a few reasons for this, including:


  • Compact Form: The Future Development Strategy aims to promote the quality compact approach to growth and reinforce the multi-nodal approach. This is the same approach as set out in the Auckland Unitary Plan. The nodes are the city centre, Albany, Westgate and Manukau. Significant investment in these areas is expected.

Greater focus on neighbourhood sustainability is proposed, including mixed uses, and greater accessibility by cycling and walking.

  • Infrastructure: A constrained financial environment means Auckland Council is unable to fund all infrastructure over the region, and therefore there is a need to make the best use of existing infrastructure (or funded infrastructure) to support the growth expected in the existing urban area. Investment is proposed to be prioritised.


  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions by reducing car dependency (by having a more compact urban form that is well serviced by public transport).


Future urban areas

The draft Future Development Strategy suggests a number of changes in future urban areas. Existing plans, most notably the Auckland Unitary Plan, identify areas for future development (primarily via the Future Urban zoning) and previous land supply strategies set out the likely timing of these areas being rezoned and available for development. The draft Future Development Strategy suggests that most growth over the next 30 years should be within the existing urban environments, reducing the land development over this time in future urban areas (“greenfields” areas).


The live zoning (rezoning to urban) of some areas is proposed by the draft Future Development Strategy to be delayed, further investigations be required for some areas and other areas removed from future urban development all together (such as land near Hatfields Beach, Takanini and parts of land near Drury that had been indicated for future development previously). Infrastructure triggers for development are also proposed.


Where the timing is to be delayed, this appears to be primarily related to timeframes for the delivery of infrastructure (including the flow on impacts on Auckland Council prioritising investment in other areas), and the removal of areas due to natural hazards (in particular floodplains and geotechnical matters).


Substantial infrastructure investment is required to service future urban areas as well as on-going costs to service the infrastructure or maintain and replace it over time. Auckland Council is attempting to focus development in specific areas, in part to maximise use of existing infrastructure and areas that are already proposed/ funded to be serviced.


It is proposed that there will be less reliance on expansion into future urban areas and growth in these areas will be phased over a longer timeframe.


Figure: Proposed timing of future urban areas (Source: www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz)


Impacts on rural areas

Growth in rural areas will be minimal to retain the rural environment, natural features and rural productivity. This will include those areas with highly productive land (soils)- you can find out more here. Rural lifestyle growth is proposed to be focused in the Countryside Living zones, as is the current situation.


Business areas

The draft Future Development Strategy seeks to provide areas for business growth, including allowing for 282,600 new jobs over the next 30 years. This will include:

  • Seeking to make the best use of business land, including repurposing and intensifying existing land, and protecting existing business land for future business uses,

  • Growing employment opportunities in the nodes,

  • Extending mixed use areas,

  • Providing more business land in the north, north- west and south,

  • Improving transportation access to business land and employment opportunities.

What are the priority areas?

The draft Future Development Strategy identifies the financial constraints facing Auckland Council and suggests that prioritisation of land development/ redevelopment is based on:

  • Prioritisation of areas that give the greatest benefits across multiple outcomes- in effect the best “bang for your buck”,

  • Setting region- wide priorities, looking at what provides the most benefit to the whole region rather than focusing on a specific geographical area or issue.


Short to medium term (1- 10 years) and longer term (11- 30 years) priorities are suggested in the draft Future Development Strategy. This is shown in spatial terms in the figure below.

Figure: Spatial Priority Areas (Source: www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz)


How will it be implemented?

Following finalisation of the Future Development Strategy, Auckland Council will develop an implementation plan (which will be reviewed annually). This will likely include:


  • Changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan,

  • Prioritisation of the provision/ upgrading of infrastructure,

  • Details of any non- statutory approaches,

  • Details of any advocacy and research required.


What’s the timeline?

At the time of writing, Auckland Council have indicated their timeframe is:

  • 4 June 2023: Draft Future Development Strategy document approved by Planning, Environment and Parks Committee to go to consultation.

  • 6 June- 31 July 2023: Public consultation. This is the current step, and we encourage you to make a submission.

  • August 2023: Local Board business meetings.

  • August- September 2023: Feedback from public and local boards considered and changes made to the Future Development Strategy.

  • Late 2023: Planning, Environment and Parks Committee to request adoption of final Future Development Strategy document.


Make a submission

This is a very important document, that will shape development in Auckland for many years. We encourage anyone with an interest in land development and how Auckland grows, to take a look at the consultation documents and make a submission.

You can find a copy of the documents here. You can make a submission until 31 July 2023 (recently extended from 4 July).


Need advice?

If you have a development that’s affected by PC78 timing, get in contact so we can discuss the best consent strategy with you. Our experienced team of planners provide reliable advice and will help make the resource consent process easier for you. You can contact us on hello@planningplus.co.nz or (09) 427 9966.



Hannah Thomson is Director of Planning Plus™ and has over 20 years of resource management experience working in both local government and the private sector. This includes five years at Rodney District Council in roles including Senior Planner and Team Leader. Hannah has a wide range of experience including commercial, rural, residential and coastal development and subdivision on small to large scales and appearances at both Council and Environment Court as an expert witness for mediation and hearings. Hannah has assisted Councils with policy development and has also assisted private individuals with submissions to Council.


Hannah holds the qualifications of BSc (Environmental Science) and Master of Applied Science (Environmental Management), is a Member (Int) of the New Zealand Planning Institute and Secretary of the New Zealand Planning Institute Auckland Branch Committee. Hannah is also a member of the Resource Management Law Association.





As with all our blogs this information is preliminary in nature only and we have endeavoured to ensure it is correct at the time of writing. It is not intended to substitute for your own investigations or obtaining specific advice on your proposal from professionals. Planning Plus LtdTM is not liable in any way for any errors or omissions.

© Planning Plus Ltd 2023

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