From Penk’s Pen

I love the phrase, “build it and they will come”. It’s ambitious but also practical: we can make a place better for people to work and play but only if we “build” in the first place.
The key point is really the order: first, you build, then they come. The thing to “build” is all the infrastructure needed to support a decent standard of living, not just the houses. Then “they” will come to a place they can enjoy.
In the case of the electorate I represent (“Kaipara ki Mahurangi”, stretching across Auckland’s rural north and west) it’s been the case far too often that we encourage people to come here, without having built properly beforehand.
That’s as true in the rural north – think Warkworth and surrounding areas and the chokepoint that is the infamous Hill Street intersection – as it is in suburban West Auckland, where commuters crawl daily from intersection to intersection across State Highway 16.
I’ve been contacting government ministers and various officials about the solutions needed in these places consistently over the past 3 years. I believe it’s important to offer solutions, having pointed out problems, whenever asking for more.
To that end, I’ve published “Penk’s Plan” on my social media accounts for a couple of different geographical areas and will be expanding the map soon.
The traditional view about what needs to support people in housing still holds true, with three key elements: transport links, safe and sanitary water systems and “social infrastructure” such as schools, healthcare providers and community spaces to meet and play (and, where appropriate, places to work too). I’d add that planning in the 2020s should also include reliable, fast internet connectivity to round out the basics.
It’s really the difference between “houses” and “housing”. It’s easy enough simply to build houses but the whole package to support reasonable living standards – the whole housing picture – needs much more thought and, dare I say it, political will.
I’ll keep pushing along those lines. Wish me luck!

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