When Southern Auckland wanted to explore the possibility of a new economic and urban future for this emerging part of the city of Auckland, they asked Arup to create an economic masterplan for it – the first of its kind in New Zealand.

Southern Auckland is on New Zealand’s North Island, and is a growing region home to over 350,000 people. Its developable land and proximity to prosperous cities make the area a desirable place to live and do business. However, the region needed a new vision and significant investment from the public and private sectors to connect the suburbs with new industries, employment opportunities and economic growth.

Collaborating on economic planning

Working with Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, we connected economic strategy with urban planning, landscape architecture, and civil engineering to design a masterplan to create new opportunities for developers, businesses and residents.

The masterplan weaves the suburbs together to provide a road map for future investment driving sustainable growth for businesses, housing, employment and infrastructure. In a first for economic master planning in New Zealand, it brings together different perspectives from a diverse group of stakeholders, including government, the private sector, landowners and iwi – the Māori Nation - to drive investment and policy alignment towards attracting the future employment potential in Southern Auckland.

Proposing a complete impactful vision for Southern Auckland

An economic masterplan brings together the best of urban planning and economics. Unlike traditional planning, our approach links the physical environment to the most impactful opportunities for industry and employment.

Even before partnering with Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, we were approached by several landholders in Southern Auckland who wanted us to advise them on development opportunities.

Rather than creating multiple conflicting masterplans for individual landowners, we proposed a unified approach for the region to achieve the best outcomes for landowners, industry and communities. Southern Auckland’s local government listened to our proposal for an economic masterplan and agreed with our concept.

To make this work for Southern Auckland, and to ensure all stakeholder needs were represented, we worked with a steering group made up of people from government, industry, landowners, residents and iwi to inform our design and decision making.

The core drivers of this economic masterplan are jobs and prosperity which will lead to a community that can work, live, play and thrive in proximity. And how to engage the spatial planning process to enable infrastructure and amenities to achieve the outcome, with reduced future travel patterns and carbon footprint. Arup delivered a robust and repeatable mechanism with the right blend of economic and spatial planning acceptable to the key stakeholders.

Aldrin Thayalakal

Principal Advisor – Infrastructure & Commercial, Tātaki Auckland Unlimited

Unlocking opportunities for business, industry and the community

After a stocktake of Southern Auckland’s existing location, planned transport infrastructure, existing industries and skills, we identified five economic hubs: health, construction, food and beverage, wool and textiles, and the circular economy.

Through our analysis, we discovered the untapped potential of these hubs to create economic and social value. We reviewed our plan against international best-practice economic masterplans, and focused on what we could adapt and scale for Southern Auckland.

Our team worked collaboratively to understand the spatial requirements of these economic opportunities and mapped the region with a land use plan. With the steering group, we tested ideas, gained feedback and sought stakeholder buy-in for these opportunities. Our team continually iterated to ensure the plan balanced economic, placemaking and community interests.

The masterplan creates easily adoptable and sustainable investment opportunities by ranking each one by ‘development readiness’ and sorting them into work packages. This approach gives the public and private sector the necessary guidance to work together to create sustainable growth, and the confidence to plan future public and private investment decisions.