Parks and Gardens Land Purchases – Long term planning

In Lewis Mumford’s book The Culture of Cities (1938), he wrote: “When the Crown planned Regent’s Park in London the park itself was appreciated as a device for increasing the ground values of the neighbouring properties held by the Crown” (p. 111). Looking back at past Hamilton City Council long term plans (LTPs), we can see a number of recent large increases in spending that had not been budgeted for in earlier plans. The 2006-16 LTP explains the increase in the Parks and Gardens budget as “…strategic land purchases to provide recreational open space in the city’s new areas. All purchases will be funded by development contributions” (p. 26). If we look at ‘housing’ on the Reserve Bank’s inflation calculator it shows that housing costs increased by 88% between 2000 to 2006. The 1999-19 LTP had budgeted $400k for the year 2006 for land purchases, while in the 2006-16 LTP it was $17,756k, a 4000% increase. Hamilton’s population was 116,604 in 2001; it increased to 129,591 in 2006, representing an 11% increase.

In hindsight, we can see that when council underfunds land purchases for growth the cost of the catch-up is high. It is correct that “All purchases will be funded by development contributions” (2006-16 p.26) but the council has allowed a few land owners to dictate the timing for growth to the point that land values are out of reach for people new to the home ownership market.

Land purchases are more than “increasing the ground values of the neighbouring properties” (Mumford), and new storm water management is no longer about the wholesale piping of streams and uncontrolled discharges to rivers and lakes. A good example is the floodway planned in Rotokauri. This extension, coming from Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park through to Lake Rotokauri, has the potential to equal Hamilton Garden visitor numbers.

Strategic Growth Committee 20 Aug 2020 p98

The graph below shows spending for the past decade and predicted spending in the next decade; even though spending on land purchases looks ad hoc, the average house price and spending are not too far off parallel. “All purchases will be funded by development contributions”, which will be added to the price of new housing. The key line to focus on is the dotted wage inflation line: can the money come from future hard-working wage earners without making them slaves to a mortgage they can never repay?

Average House price is from Lodge Real Estate

The cost of a house is the outcome of council limiting land available, and the number of suppliers. “In the 1960s, 10% (278ha) of Hamilton city was zoned Residential High Density … The latest District Plan has it down to 2% (208ha)” and as Colin Jones (on behalf of Commercial & Industrial Consultants Ltd) notes in his submission to the Annual Plan 2020/21, Pages 3 & 25 of his attachment, “The concentrated landownership is of serious concern in that only 16 property owners control all the development ready land in Hamilton while in Christchurch, there are approximately 600. This has enabled some developers in Hamilton to achieve monopoly profits”.

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Parking evidence – retail spending 2019

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This is an update on my post from 2018.

There has never before been more car parking and it has never been cheaper to park in central Hamilton. However, the outcome is that Hamilton’s total electronic spending from 2018 to 2019 has increased from $1,865k to $1,891k (1.4%), while over the same period Hamilton central spending decreased from $659k to $648 (-1.6%). On average Hamilton central has been losing 1% of market share per year for the past decade. In 1968, *49.1% of Hamilton’s retail spending was in the central city. *Hamilton Central Area: A planning design study, by James A. Anderson. June 1973, p. 43

Meanwhile, in Christchurch, the Central City Business Association (CCBA) chairwoman Annabel Turley ​told The Press “There was a perception free parking brought in a lot of people” and “Parking always seems to be a barrier for people, whether it’s a true barrier or a perceived one”. In Hamilton the call for more car parking has been relentless for over half a century. This decade has resulted in having two thirds of Hamilton central city land area available for the storage of unused cars. In 1968 ‘A total of 7,394 legal parking spaces were available in the C.B.A. Of these, 3320 were in the Inner City and 4074 were located in fringe’. (Hamilton Transportation Study, Basic data report: p. 47). The 2010 Access Hamilton Parking Management Action Plan (PP) counted 16,450 parking spaces, ‘There are approximately 2,350 on-street car parking spaces in the CBD … In the CBD there are approximately 14,100’ (p8). These thousands of new car parking spaces need a lot of land.

The above image shows that close to two thirds of Hamilton central land is used for parking cars. To achieve this some businesses have been removed and from the 1990s to 2012 new businesses needed to comply with district plan minimum parking requirements. With each car parking space provided costing $20,000 to $40,000 (PP, p. 10), the city centre was not a place for entry-level businesses. Change is happening. But we do need to ask: when is there too much car parking?

Economic Development Committee – 10 March 2020 – Spending p219
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