The authors of Auckland’s Unitary Plan took on the issue of how the city should be allowed to grow by the planners. Disallowing people’s freedom to choose themselves how the fuck they live, they characterised it as a choice between up versus out.
The best choice within this perverted planning framework would have been to say both-and.
The worst choice if you want to cure Auckland’s rampant housing affordability problem (for which, I remind you, we have the world’s gold medal) would be to largely prohibit building out in favour of building up. (“They don’t want people to have choice – they want everyone in an inner-city apartment.”)
So we get the worst of both worlds.
The outcome reaffirms research conclusions that
Cities that have curbed their expansion have – with limited exception – failed to compensate with densification. As a result they have produced far less housing than they would otherwise, with severe national implications for housing affordability, geographic mobility and access to opportunity, all of which are keenly felt today as we approach the top of housing cycle.
Part of the reason is that, as urban-research economist Issi Romem finds, cities do fail to compensate for not building out by making it far too difficult to build up either.
But the other reason is that simple urban land economics means that because the planners’ ring-fence around the city “destroys the competitive market for land on the urban fringe,” the jolt in prices there feeds through to every single home in the city.
Discussing this disaster, Wendell Cox points out that this should hardly be news to anyone willing to remove their blinkers.
Near 50 years ago, legendary urbanologist Sir Peter Hall suggested that “soaring land prices …. certainly represent the biggest single failure of the system of planning introduced with the UK’s 1947 [Town and Country Planning] Act” (see: The Costs of Smart Growth Revisited: A 40 Year Perspective). Urban containment policy, the principal strategy of forced densification, cannot repeal the law of supply and demand. Seventy years of experience prove that.
The writers of Auckland’s Unitary Plan could not care less about that proof.
Now about Auckland’s would-be home-buyers locked out of the housing market by their strangling of it.
[Hat tip Hugh Pavletich]