Why would you want to live in Auckland? We asked the council

New Zealand's largest metropolis is the best place to be, according to a member of the Auckland Council.

Mr Ludo Campbell-Reid, general manager of Auckland Council's Design Office, says Auckland is the best place to live in New Zealand, despite common criticisms around public transport, housing and inequality.

"I think a lot of these negative factors are factors of success. Looking at congestion, cities that aren't congested are boring hell-holes. If there's no congestion, then you're doing nothing right," he told Newshub.

Mr Campbell-Reid believes that more access to public transport is the key to making Auckland a better and more equal society. He moved to New Zealand from the UK about a decade ago after he was approached by then-mayor Dick Hubbard to help revive Auckland's sluggish infrastructure. 

"People need other options of how to get to work other than driving. We have spent the last 50 years building primarily roads and motorways but in the future we will be building more public transport."

Auckland Council is banking on the City Rail Link project currently under construction - a 3.5km double-track rail beneath Auckland's city centre.

"City Rail isn't just a project for downtown Auckland - it means the whole rail system of Auckland will be twice as efficient. People in Manukau will be able to get into downtown in half the amount of time," Mr Campbell-Reid says.

"We have to transform the way we move, the way we invest, and south Auckland needs to be better connected. A better connected city is a more inclusive city."

More than $28 billion will be spent fixing Auckland's transport network over the next decade, Auckland Council and the Government announced in April.

"We've been waiting for years and years for the funding to be available to transform our infrastructure," Mr Campbell-Reid says.

"The next 15 to 20 years is going to be the most exciting time that New Zealand has seen since the 1950s."

What about Auckland's inequality?

Auckland is an "incredible spot to live", says Mr Campbell-Reid, but the city is often criticised for its inequality. Auckland's CBD and wealthy suburbs such as Remuera and Takapuna appear to soak up funding while south Auckland is left detached. 

Mr Campbell-Reid believes that more access to public transport is the key to making Auckland a more equal society - by making the CBD more accessible to people in the south.

"The access to jobs and being able to move around the city at the moment in Auckland is quite constrained," he says. Once Auckland has more choices of housing and transportation, those negative aspects will "diminish".

Minister for Housing and Urban Development and Transport Phil Twyford announced the first KiwiBuild homes under construction in April after the purchase of 29 hectares of land at Unitec's Mt Albert Campus in Auckland, about 9km from the CBD.

The Government was elected on the promise of building 100,000 affordable houses in 10 years under the ambitious programme.

Around 55 percent of all population growth in New Zealand over the next 10 years is expected to be concentrated in the Auckland region.

Ludo Campbell-Reid, general manager of Auckland Council's Design Office, says Auckland is the best place to live in New Zealand, despite common criticisms around public transport, housing and inequality.
Ludo Campbell-Reid, general manager of Auckland Council's Design Office, says Auckland is the best place to live in New Zealand, despite common criticisms around public transport, housing and inequality. Photo credit: Newshub

Mr Campbell-Reid accepts that the city has high property prices and high traffic congestion, but "that's because it's a desirable place to live". In fact, he says high property prices are "inevitable" for a city like Auckland.

Under the new Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) announced by Mr Twyford in April, Auckland will get "vital" projects including light rail, Penlink and Mill Road, heavy rail and bus upgrades, safety improvements and more dedicated cycle lanes.

Because of a funding shortfall, this is only possible due to a $4.4 billion funding boost resulting from the Auckland fuel tax, increased revenue from the National Land Transport Fund, and Crown Infrastructure Partners contributions, Mr Twyford said.

The Government is now coming under pressure to intervene as fuel prices escalate, hitting Aucklanders who rely on driving a car to get to work.

But Mr Campbell-Reid maintains that Auckland is "an extraordinary place - the climate is great and the city itself is very well-located".

However, there is room for improvement, he says.

"It's about the city that it could become, because we're already third in the world in terms of liveability, but we don't have a proper integrated public transport system."

Newshub.

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