Home & Building, Volume 12 Number 6 (June-July 1950)
Town Planning in New Zealand: 5-Conclusions
In Los Angeles a Manufacturing Company was Permitted by Variance to Extend From Commercial on to Adjacent Residentially Zoned Property at la Cienega and Beverley Boulevardes. The Variance Further Required Removal of Oil Well From Street and Construction of Efficiently Designed off-Street Parking Areas.
I have in this series of articles endeavoured to show what the objectives are in directing all work, both private and government, in a city or sound planning principles. There are many people who consider that planning itself is just an added burden to the city's finances, but a very brief analysis of the problems that confront local authorities daily will serve to give the lie to such assumptions.
One of the most frequent applications for permission under a town planning scheme which is often declined for reasons that the property-owner finds it hard to understand, is the conversion of a single-family dwelling into three or four flats in an outlying suburb. This matter is dependent upon the ultimate density of population before a decision can be reached. You must remember that when streets are formed and sections subdivided to them, an estimate of the ultimate population in accordance with the number of people who can be housed in the area is necessary before the services, mainly water and sewage, can be designed.
If, when the property is developed to its fullest extent under normal by-law and town-planning regulations, numerous applications are received for the housing of additional families in the district by subdividing the building units themselves into two, three, four or more flats, then each extra family discharges additional waste and each extra family demands its water supply. The design of the mains could not cope with the added demand, and to relay them with larger pipes would add an enormous financial burden to the area concerned. This is a responsibility which must be met not only by the particular suburb in which the demand occurs, but by the People at large in the administrative area of the local authority. Often these expenses are entirely unwarranted in the area under review and the additional families could be housed in areas which are already provided with services.
Again, there is in every city a percentage of population who do not wish to live in separate dwellings each on a full building site. They are quite prepared, indeed they would rather, live in blocks of flats as near the town centre as possible, so that they have more time apart from that spent at their work, free for pleasure, and I would say that these people generally have no interest in gardening.
While New Zealand towns carry on as at present providing 90% of then-residential development on single sites, the total mileage of streets necessary
to serve those areas is greatly in excess of what would be required to provide living conditions in accordance with the natural demand. Therefore, the construction and maintenance cost of streets is much greater than under a planning scheme where a portion of the population would be housed in higher densities near the city and a balanced amount of residential development be provided for in single houses further from the central business area.
But so far in this country there is little indication of town planning being universally adopted. The law of the country says it should be, but very little advantage has been taken of the Town Planning Act by local authorities. There are few development plans out. On the other hand there have been of recent years large-scale development plans prepared by various departments of the government, not-ably the Public Works Department with ten-year-plans and the Housing Construction Department with its larger areas.
To understand the impact that these schemes will have on the development of towns and also on industrial location throughout the country, is impossible unless the majority of towns do investigate the development of their own administrative area from the point of view of good planning.
Finally, I would like to quote a paragraph from an article on the Planning of Town and Country by Professor Sir Patrick Abercrombie who, as most of you will know, is thepage 47
leading planning authority in the world. He said this: "The opportunity-is before the country to survey the whole distribution of urban population and work. Strong and bold action is required but along an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary line. Above all, an attempt should be made to classify the functions of towns, render them efficient for their job and convenient, healthy pleasant places to live in while, at the same time, safe-guarding the interests of the countryside."
It is precisely at that stage that this country is to-day.