Auckland Council’s planning committee meets on Tuesday and has a full agenda, but it looks a dreadful prospect because of the opportunities – bound to be taken up – to spout hot air.
A planning committee meeting a month ago was like that – a large degree of misunderstanding the role the committee has in considering how to deal with applications for private plan changes. That role, essentially, is to make 1 of 4 choices:
- Reject the request (in whole or in part), based on 1 of 5 grounds
- Deal with it as if it were an application for resource consent
- Adopt the request (or part of it) as if it was a plan change proposed by the council, or
- Accept the request (or part of it) and notify it for hearing.
Usually, a considered staff recommendation would be a sound basis for making a decision, though still with the ability to reach a contrary conclusion.
In short, that’s a process decision. What the committee did on 5 February was to debate merits (or otherwise) of the application, trying to decide its fate when the job was to decide how it reached a hearing.
One plan change application, for the Orakei Point village precinct, beside the Orakei railway station on Hobson Bay, was not approved to proceed to a hearing when it was before the committee on 5 February, on an 11-8 vote. Committee chair Chris Darby pulled it from the agenda and deferred considering what course to follow for a month, rather than risk it being rejected.
I could see some members keen to let mayor Phil Goff know they didn’t like to be known as members of team B rather than of team A on the council. I could also see a residential developer (on a Warkworth project) missing an earthworks season because of petty politics.
That outcome would have added considerably to the cost of development and delayed construction by as much as a year – both serious council concerns if you look at the committee’s agenda for this Tuesday, although I think there’s scope on Tuesday for more hot air & little progress on 2 housing fronts.
One of those is a joint programme council & government have been working on to deal with housing & urban growth in Auckland.
The other is the call to address the issue of affordable housing, and what role the council should play.
On both, it looks like spending a couple of months asking, for then preparing, a spreadsheet won out against getting hands dirty.
7 council-government workstreams
The initial council-government programme has 7 workstreams. They’re set out below, with projects in bold, bullet points for a summary of actions required for each project:
- Auckland development programme:
Southern growth area (immediate focus Drury):
- understanding cost & implications of releasing future urban land sooner
- identifying & securing social infrastructure
- providing catalysts for job growth
City centre-Mangere light rail transit urban growth areas (including the Auckland housing programme in Mangere, Mt Roskill & Oranga, and Transform Onehunga):
- clarify current infrastructure capacity situation
- develop infrastructure funding & investment plans with asset owners & HLC (ex-Hobsonville Land Co Ltd)/Housing NZ Corp
- identifying & securing social infrastructure
- targeted changes to the unitary plan to provide for greater intensification in appropriate areas
- complete joint business case
- review investment approach & redevelopment timing of Housing NZ Corp land
City rail link development opportunities (Aotea, Karangahape & Mt Eden):
- develop a delivery framework and pursue opportunities to leverage CRL investment
- Affordable housing:
- identifynew non-regulatory & regulatory interventions in the housing system which increase affordable housing
- Infrastructure funding & financing:
- test application of alternative financing & funding tools within priority development areas
- develop with Crown Infrastructure Partners a long-term pipeline of projects
- Urban planning:
- pilot study with developers to understand any Resource Management Act or unitary plan roadblocks to fully utilising the unitary plan terrace housing & apartment zone
- use Auckland case studies to test national direction options for quality intensification
Costs & benefits of growth:
- work together to better understand & quantify the wider costs & benefits of urban development, in order to inform planning & investment decisions & other work programmes
- Spatial planning:
- use Auckland Plan experience to test & inform options to strengthen spatial planning in New Zealand
- Urban development agency:
- regular reporting on legislative process
- identify potential locations for Urban Development Authority & Auckland Council to work together
- Removing barriers to efficient delivery of housing:
Building Act & Building Code & efficient consenting processes:
- progress the introduction of tools & process improvements to the efficiency & performance of building consent processes at Auckland Council
Optimal utilisation of zoning & related infrastructure capacity:
- investigate mechanisms that encourage optimal utilisation of zoning & infrastructure capacity.
Affordable housing – council role
On the issue of affordable housing the committee got a report outlining 4 options, ranging from doing as little as possible (even less than is done now, so it won’t be put to the committee), through to playing an active role in affordable housing supply.
The council is sitting on its debt limit, so that wouldn’t have been an option either.
The staff recommendation to the committee is to agree a preferred position of “intervene & lead” (option 3), including:
- modelling inclusionary zoning, other planning mechanisms & incentives
- improving council processes for affordable housing outcomes
- concessions or grants for community housing providers
- partnerships with government, iwi, community housing providers & developers
- retained affordability mechanisms & rental tenure security for renters
- the experience & needs of people in the intermediate housing market.
The other options were:
Option 1 – statutory requirements: would involve doing less than the status quo and is not presented for consideration
Option 2 – partner & influence: status quo. Council would continue to partner with others and influence Government within existing policy & plan settings
Option 4 – directly deliver: ‘doing a lot more’ by directly providing affordable housing.
3 other private plan changes up for hearing decision
3 other private plan applications will be before the committee to be progressed to a hearing.
One is from Southern Cross Hospitals Ltd to rezone a site in Epsom and remove special character overlays; the second is from Woolworths NZ Ltd to rezone a 1.92ha site in Conifer Grove, on the former Manukau Golf Club course, from mixed housing urban to business, for a supermarket plus other shops; and the third is to allow residential development at Smales Farm.
40% of Smales Farm’s 11ha in Takapuna has been developed, all for office use.
Committee agenda items:
8, Government & Auckland Council joint programme of work on Auckland housing & urban growth
Terms of reference
9, Auckland Council’s position and role in affordable housing – affordable homes for all
11, Orakei, Orakei Point, Auckland unitary plan (operative in part) – private plan change request from Orakei Point Trustee Ltd to rezone land
12, Epsom, 3 Brightside Rd and 149, 151, & 153 Gillies Avenue, Auckland unitary plan (operative in part) – private plan change request from Southern Cross Hospitals Ltd to rezone land
13, Conifer Grove, 2 Te Napi Drive, Auckland unitary plan (operative in part) – private plan change request from Woolworths NZ Ltd
14, Takapuna, Smales Farm business park, Auckland unitary plan (operative in part) – proposed private plan change request
Attribution: Council committee agenda, meeting.