How can it work under the RMA?
It begins by identifying where people go on those 10 VMD and moving those destinations so they are within walking distance. In other words: move destinations not people. This means understanding how a local economy works – what jobs, shops and services people go to every day, and then determining the critical mass population to ensure locally those jobs are economically viable.
Economic Critical Mass
Critical mass analysis is already done. The town needs 10,000± people living in 4,000± buildings to provide critical mass for local-to-local (L2L) businesses. Rather than market homes first-come/first-serve, when the project begins, it looks to fill 250± L2L job types – from accountants to zythepsarists (look it up). It sets out the number of L2L jobs a 10,000 population town requires. For example, it needs no less than three barbershops with three barbers each.
L2L works out to up to 80% of the total local jobs. The other 20% of the jobs are local-to-global (L2G) meaning people who can work anywhere there is good broadband. They become the money importers to provide a 5X money turn.
Whenua: The next critical factor is the another right mentioned in Te Tiriti – whenua – contiguous land that includes the kāinga, but also a necessary surrounding greenbelt to prevent cross-boundary conflicts and provide a non-residential natural environment. The optimal total whenua size is about 200 hectares with an inner urban core covering about 40-45% (85± hectares).
The greenbelt serves many purposes, but the first is to reduce objections from rural neighbours for the proposed new kāinga/market town. All they will see is a belt of trees. With no outbound commuters, their roads will not suffer congestion. They will get a new regional economic engine in their midst but without the adverse effects that accompany American-style zoning. The Greenbelt also enables energy and water self-sufficiency. No new burden on the power grid, no digging up roads to bury new council pipes.
The People: The social benefit comes in how the urban core is designed. While 10,000 people is the optimal economic number, the social critical-mass number is much smaller. People thrive best in communities of 250 to 750, where they know each other and take care of their own. To achieve this, segment the town into clusters – call them villages – of about 200± buildings (500± people) each.
How to enable people and communities
During the founding of the town, future residents identify which cluster/village appeals to them, and using a charrette process, the founding villagers set out the look and feel of their future village. The RMA describes this in its core purpose as enabling people and communities to provide for their economic, social and cultural wellbeing – an aspiration mostly ignored by the failed practices that have given NZ its largest source of CO₂ pollution. Thanks to modern technology, that charrette process can now be done online.
This front-ending of future residents has numerous benefits lost in conventional planning. People get to know each other. They become stakeholders – quite literally. It also makes selling the homes much easier as people already have social networks – shared commonality where they crowd-source their future neighbours. In a multi-cultural society, this commonality provides a stronger sense of safety and social connection than new development devised by government planners or conventional private developers.
Shared public space means smaller, more sustainable private homes
A critical design feature of each village is a careful balance of private and public space, where the public space enables people to fulfil their social needs with smaller, hence more environmentally-efficient homes. Each village is built around a public plaza with affordable and accessible amenities they frequent daily. The plaza has a village-owned café where everyone can afford three nutritious, flavourful meals a day if they don’t want to cook at home. Primary school classrooms and child care are on the plaza, significantly lowering the capital cost of education, and providing children with 24/7 adult role models. Each plaza has a community-owned, self-insured nursing care facility so no one, regardless of infirmity, is forced to leave their community. And to ensure support for the creative class that makes community-life more vibrant and prevent gentrification, the development funds artist guild halls on each plaza.
Permanent affordable housing – eliminate economic polarisation
A critical element in an increasingly polarised world of the haves and have-nots, 20% of the housing is “parallel market”, meaning ownership is structured to always remain affordable to those who cannot compete with higher income or high-net-worth buyers who increasingly displace the have-nots. By building affordability in at the onset, and ensuring affordability forever, the community remains a complete, not elite, community regardless of how desirable it becomes (and it will become desirable).
The government has the means to build kāinga/market towns today. Called the Urban Development Act, the properly-named Kāinga Ora holds the authority it needs to draft the prototype plan, then find the most suitable land and implement the project. And in doing so, it ends up costing the taxpayer nothing. Instead, it becomes a profit centre for the host council and central government, because its demand on rate and taxpayer services are much lower than the current American-style transport-zoned developments.
To learn more about the details, see www.markettowns.nz