Mosgiel is steadily expanding. This photograph showing the Silver Springs subdivision was taken in April last year. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Dunedin's spatial plan and the proposal to put a ring
around the city is just a futile attempt at social
engineering, writes Peter Dymock.
It is good to see the Government taking heed of the
Productivity Commission's call to free up more land on city
fringes for home-building (ODT, 29.10.12) to help reduce the
cost of housing.
What then is the Dunedin City Council up to with its
proposals in its spatial plan (ODT, 27.10.12) to put an end
to greenfield and rural-residential development and put a
ring around the city preventing further expansion?
There is nothing surer than this will simply drive up the
price of land and housing.
Not everybody wants to live in inner city apartments or
intensive infill and multi-unit developments or to use public
transport as promoted in the spatial plan . In fact, given a
choice, the majority of Kiwis still prefer to live in a
traditional stand-alone residential dwelling and many dream
of a rural lifestyle on a small block.
For an insight into what drives people to want to live in a
brand new bespoke house in a new greenfields development
surrounded by other new homes, the recent excellent feature
in the ODT on people living in the new developments around
Mosgiel should be compulsory reading for our city planners.
The city council has an absolute social and moral obligation
to provide for this great Kiwi dream and to make it as
affordable as possible. It is one of the reasons why we live
in places like Dunedin and not London and New York.
When will our planners acknowledge the reality that Kiwis
will sell their grandmother before giving up their car?
The overwhelming advantages of convenience, comfort, utility
and unlimited personal freedom and the revolution in social
mobility that universal private car ownership has bought
means that most people wouldn't use public transport, even if
it were free.
Not having to suffer the indignities and inconvenience of
public transport is one the pleasures of living in a city
like Dunedin. This needs to be celebrated, not decried.
As for preserving soils and land for local food-growing,
let's get real - this is 2012, not 1930.
Thanks to the miracles of modern global distribution systems,
our supermarkets are stuffed full of delicious food from all
over the world at prices much less in relation to average
incomes than when all our food was grown locally, just as
supermarkets in North America and Europe stock food grown in
New Zealand (and if they didn't, we'd be broke).
Ultimately, what use rural land is put to is governed by the
international commodity markets and not pipe-dreams of
self-sufficiency. Anyway, who wants to return to a 1930s diet
of what can be grown around Dunedin - porridge, boiled
cabbage, swedes, carrots and mutton!
The reality is the spatial plan is not what the citizens of
Dunedin really want, as claimed by Mayor Dave Cull. Like all
such plans it actually reflects the policy framework it was
presented in and the views of those few people who bothered
to make a submission - and most of them, it has to be said,
have some sort of private agenda, such as global warming or
However, I take heart from the fact that in our free and
democratic society it is the market (i.e. what people really
want) that is the ultimate arbiter of what Dunedin will look
like in 2050. Much of the spatial plan is simply a futile
attempt at social engineering.
- Peter Dymock lives in Alexandra.