The Special Housing Area (SHA) conceptually provides a starting point but there are some fundamental differences if we are to achieve affordable growth without congestion.
The SHA focuses on residential development. MarketTowns focus on self-supporting towns. This means residential town houses (similar to terraced housing but more like European 3-story homes) plus commercial and industrial with priority given to attracting head-of-household jobs rather than selling homes first-come/first serve. The former prevents outbound commuting. The latter has economic, social, cultural and environmental benefits. Also because cars are not central to daily life (similar, say to New York City where few drive) the MarketTown streets are car-free, no on-street or off-street parking, and all cars are kept in a motorpool near the access road. Also, while the SHA projects developments to take ten years or more, the MarketTown is pre-sold and then built rapidly and simultaneously... targeting all residents moving in at almost the same time. Once built, it is designated as a historic zone, so that no structural changes are permitted for at least fifty years. As a result, the plan proposes that instead of two-story buildings, a third floor that is unfinished is built to allow internal expansion.
Country Town: While it is not mandatory, and may run into conflict with the Rural Urban Boundary, the optimal MarketTown is a compact market town best sited in the countryside, not part of Auckland's suburban sprawl. Surrounded by a greenbelt, the MarketTown is a fixed size from day one. It will have no sprawl, and is best places as a market-town anchor that optionally may purchase the development rights of the surrounding farms to ensure they always remain farms.
Land Price: In order to offer affordable housing, it is better that the land is purchased as farm land and then rezoned effective on purchase. Because it is a settlement, not a development, the pricing structure to the end buyer of a MarketTown is cost plus 20% (where the 20% is retained by the MarketTown as investment capital). A lower land purchase price means the housing will be more affordable.
Land Size: The critical mass of a MarketTown is about 10,000 people on a 200 hectare parcel of which 50% is greenbelt (to prevent cross boundary conflicts and give people a proximate experience of Nature).
Mixed Use: Residential, commercial and light/clean industrial all operate in the town. Residential and commercial will share buildings in some cases, as is commonly found in older European towns.
Higher: The villages have three-story buildings of variable height and potentially a rooftop greenhouse, the cosmopolitan town centre in the middle has four-story buildings and a five story clock tower. These heights will not have adverse impact on amenities because the town will be surrounded by a greenbelt.
No Congestion: With less expensive homes, a lower cost of living and more attractive amenities, the MarketTown expects it would sell out rapidly if it sold at first-come/first-serve.
Water & Sewer: It is desirable that the MarketTown implement a sustainable water system in which all its water is harvested from the sky, with state-of-the-art water saving systems, and extensive water reuse resulting in no sewage discharge
Some of the important details:
- 20% subsidised affordable housing and all housing build on a cost-plus basis, not on what the market will bear
- No speculative housing. Rental investments controlled by MarketTown policy to support sustainable communities
- No cars within the urban core (where people live). Reduces the cost of living by about 25%
- No commuters - this supports growth without congestion
- All internal car-free roads owned privately, better land use (no on/off-street parking)
- All day-to-day destinations within the boundary - a broader concept than SHA dormitory communities
- All employment within - this may exceed SHA scope that focuses on cheap commuter housing
- All shopping and schools within - this may exceed SHA scope
- A walk-to industrial park - this is more than residential, exceeds SHA scope
- A motorpool for all motor vehicles and a freight depot for goods interface
- A cosmopolitan town centre with office buildings - mixed use
- 20 side-by-side villages with mixed use zoning, including rooftop agriculture
- Possibly a reservoir for both rainwater harvesting and amenity value
- A greenbelt to prevent cross-boundary conflicts and give people a natural experience
- Possibly a protected native bush reserve
- Almost all utilities privately operated within... water, waste, energy, telecommunications
Single title for land, leasehold title for units
- The best format has the citizens owning the MarketTown that owns the common land.
- Freehold footprint under the building. Commonly held land includes streets, public buildings, etc.
- The allotment pays for the common costs such as acquisition, amenities, utilities, etc.
- The building owner builds their building that they owns in a freehold building title or a building can be unit title by floor or apartment
Private management of local affairs using law that works
- The citizens elect the MarketTown board of directors, CEO and disputes tribunal to manage their own affairs.
- If the law permits, the ideal has each building title include one share of MarketTown that cannot be sold separate from the title
- The ideal then gives one vote per citizen (a citizen is a full-time adult resident of the MarketTown)
- The elected Board of Directors (legislative) sets the annual MarketTown budget, partially paid for out of annual fees
- Note: It is very important to use law that works, not law which is clumsy, restrictive and a breeding ground for lawsuits
More than Residential: A special housing area provides affordable dormitory housing for outbound commuters, further aggravating congestion. In contrast, a MarketTown envisions enhanced mixed use that permits growth without adding to Auckland's congestion woes:
- 4,000 attached residential buildings, some with multiple units (flats, apartments, etc)
- Home offices allowed anywhere
- Small offices allowed on the plazas and primary streets (mixed use designation streets)
- Commercial establishments allowed on the plazas and primary streets
- 4-story office buildings allowed in the cosmopolitan town centre
- Walk-to industrial park with motor vehicle access (or possibly using Freight Depot for linkage)
- Motorpool (privately owned cars, rental fleet including EV, repairs, maintenance and fueling)
- Freight depot (primary heavy vehicle linkage to the MarketTown)
- Privately operated utility services (water, wastewater, energy, fibre, solid waste, etc.)
- All designed to be on the privately-held MarketTown land, and all within walking distance.
Water, waste water, storm water, solid waste: As a sustainable design, the MarketTown would seek to implement very different approaches to utilities:
- Rooftop greenhouses that harvest rainwater rather than tie into municipal systems - opens up better site locations
- Significantly lower water consumption through water reuse and more efficient water systems
- No sewage treatment plant. Instead waste-water is segregated at point of capture, processed into marketable products
- Storm water collected in reservoirs and used for non-potable supplies such as landscaping and greenhouse food
- Solid waste starts with wholesale buying club buying based on durable, repairable and recyclable specifications
Growth Without Congestion: The urban core is car free. No car/truck on- or off-street parking within the urban core.
- Cars, trucks and busses are kept in the motorpool that provides the vehicular linkage to the outside world
- The day-to-day home range of residents inhibits outbound travel
- Within the urban core people walk, bike or travel in NEVs (neighbourhood electric vehicles)
- The freight depot is expected to be a part of the industrial park
- Goods are then delivered to the industrial park, or loaded on NEVs for delivery within the urban core.
- NEVs (10 kph speed limited) will provide vehicular services within the urban core and include mobility scooters.
- No commercial establishments will have on-street or off-street parking, and the streets are privately owned by the MarketTown.
NEVs or neighbourhood electric vehicles are small, human-scaled electric vehicles that will be governor limited to 10 kph. They can carry people, goods or be emergency vehicles.
No Structural Changes: Typically, a Plan Change requires a considerable effort to write rules that sets out what changes made be made within the land unit. In the MarketTown Master Plan, everything is set out in the beginning, in a process called Dynamic Engagement that literally enables the people and communities. Once that plan is locked, it is designated as the equivalent of a historic district, that does not permit any structural changes, additions, demolition and replacement, extensions or significant changes in visual amenity for fifty years. For changes to occur, a public or private plan change would need to be written. In this way, the Master Plan becomes a What You See Is What You Get plan, so that the District Plan rules on changes are very simple: No plans may be made to this master plan for fifty years without a Public or Private Plan Change. The reason for this is both to reduce the overhead and time required to write such a plan, and to ensure that the first generation of villagers enjoy peace and quiet with no construction or reconstruction.
Enabling People and Communities: The MarketTown is expected to be a self-contained land unit with a greenbelt around it to form a buffer zone. It is intended to significantly restrict commuters by issuing a very small number of commuter permits so the impact on Auckland's road network will be minor. Accordingly, it defines People as the approximately 8,000 adults (MarketTown citizens) and 2000 children, and it defines Communities as the twenty discrete villages as well as the central cosmopolitan town centre. A core part of the plan is to identify the buyers at the onset, and to engage them in the process of creating their own communities. This process, called Dynamic Engagement, is charged with the mission of writing the Master Plan. Some of that plan is preset in the MarketTown framework (such as attached housing and car-free), but within that framework, key decisions are made by each community. It is expected, as with all democratic decision-making processes that not all future villagers will be interested in participating, but the invitation will be open to all.
Future Growth: The standard for buildings will not be the 50-year producer statement, but an expectation of no less than 175 years (seven generations). Accordingly, the buildings and infrastructure must be future-proofed at a time when the future is very hard to predict. This includes avoiding internal load-bearing walls, building accessible chases for cables, pipes and other utilities, and most likely instead of 2-story buildings, including in the base price a "free" third floor that is unfinished. It also is possible that the MarketTown may ask that each floor have its own title so that changing internal use does not get into future subdivision issues. For example, a family may own the complete house while raising children. Then the parents may chose to retire to the ground floor and sell the upper to one of their grown children. These sorts of questions will require legal advice and possibly law changes to be most effectively accomplished.