Tag Archives | unitary plan

Committee progresses unitary plan changes, city centre masterplan, waterfront, Panuku programme, Onehunga project, land transport, northern corridor, Whenuapai, sites of significance

Auckland Council’s planning committee began its 6-hour meeting yesterday with input from advocates of no port extension into the Waitemata Harbour, and of relocating the freight operation.

Shortly after, the committee gave its support in principle to an inner dolphin off Queens Wharf as the preferred option for berthing large cruise ships.

The public input came from Shane Vuletich for Urban Auckland, Committee for Auckland & Stop Stealing our Harbour, with Richard Didsbury, Sir Stephen Tindall & Julie Stout.

But the bulk of the day’s meeting was about the “refresh” of the council’s overarching Auckland Plan, completed in 2012 and up for its first review.

The committee has held 4 workshops and had numerous presentations on the Auckland Plan, but also on various other planning documents since last October’s election.

The committee approved a streamlined approach rather than fullscale review with the intention of making the plan more strategic, integrated, focused on spatial issues, a smaller document and one that will be digitally accessible.

It approved a process of early targeted engagement with communities from May-June  on Auckland’s big issues and on the high level strategic direction of the refreshed Auckland Plan.

This article is a brief summary of matters the committee considered. I’ll write in more detail in a few days.

Other items considered:

Item 10, city centre masterplan delivery & implementation, 3 projects to be updated:

  • Victoria linear park & midtown east-west public transport
  • Quay St harbour edge boulevard & Hobson St flyover
  • Queen St, issue identification & project implications.

Item 11, Waterfront planning & implementation:

A targeted refresh of the waterfront plan is underway, focusing on development of Wynyard Pt and optimising the use of the central wharves. 

Item 12, Update on Panuku work programme:

The committee endorsed Avondale as an “unlock” location, where Panuku facilitates development opportunities for private sector investment in town centres.

A high level project plan will go to the committee later this year for approval.

Item 13, Onehunga high level project plan:

The committee adopted Panuku Development Auckland’s high level project plan for the transformation of the Onehunga town centre & surrounding area.

Item 14, Submission on draft national policy statement on land transport:

The committee approved the council’s submission.

Item 15, Northern corridor improvements project, political reference group & delegations:

The committee approved extending delegations so the reference group can provide direction & decisions on the council’s position during the board of inquiry hearing on east-west link project.

Item 19, Unitary plan (operative in part) – future plan changes and processing of private plan changes:

A report was presented on future council-initiated changes to the new unitary plan and the committee approved the criteria for dealing with private plan changes over the next 2 years.

Item 16, Draft Whenuapai plan change – approval & public engagement:

The committee approved a consultation process that will allow for the implementation of the Whenuapai structure plan, which the council approved last September. Public consultation will run from 10 April-14 May.

Item 17, Development of plan change to the unitary plan & Hauraki Gulf islands section of the district plan on sites of significance to mana whenua:

The committee gave approval for the council to engage with mana whenua & landowners on 270 nominated sites of significance to mana whenua as the next step to preparing a plan change. 

Item 18, Unitary plan, assessment of errors to produce the first 2 administrative plan changes:

The committee agreed to develop 2 administrative plan changes, one to correct errors, anomalies & technical details to the text & maps and the other to correct errors in the notable tree schedule.

Links – from committee agenda:
9, Auckland Plan refresh, engagement approach & proposed options

<ahref=”http://infocouncil.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/Open/2017/03/PLA_20170328_AGN_6720_AT.htm#PDF2_ReportName_52321″ target=”_blank”>10, Auckland city centre masterplan (2012): Delivery & implementation, progress update
Addendum (item 11)
11, Waterfront planning & implementation
Mooring options
Inner dolphin section & plan views
12, Panuku work programme, update
13, Onehunga, high level project
14, Draft government policy statement on land transport, submission
15, Northern corridor improvements project, political reference group & delegations
16, Draft Whenuapai plan change, approval & public engagement
17, Development of plan change to unitary plan (operative in part) and the district plan (Hauraki Gulf islands section), sites of significance to mana whenua
18, Unitary plan (operative in part), assessment of errors to produce the first 2 administrative plan changes
19, Unitary plan (operative in part), future plan changes and processing of private plan changes
20, Summary of planning committee information memos & briefings
Attachment A, 2 March, Staff submission on the Telecommunication Act Review: post-2020 regulatory framework for fixed line services
Attachment B, 22 March, East-West Link, submission
Attachment C, 22 March, northern corridor improvements project, submission
Attachment D, 20 March, structure plans, memo to planning committee members
Attachment E, 15 February, future urban land supply strategy, refresh workshop documents
Attachment F, 1 March, city rail link, briefing documents
Attachment G, 1 March, Auckland Plan refresh, workshop 3 documents
Attachment H, 7 March, city-airport briefing documents (not included)
Attachment I, 10 March, central city waterfront, planning workshop documents
Attachment J, 15 March, Auckland Plan refresh, workshop 4 documents

Related story today:
Start with a figure you don’t know, then plan accordingly….

Attribution: Committee meeting, council staff report.

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Maori board fails in appeal over mana whenua sites

High Court judge Ed Wylie ruled yesterday that the independent panel on Auckland’s unitary plan didn’t err in recommending the sites of value for mana whenua be deleted.

The Independent Maori Statutory Board appealed the deletion, but Justice Wylie rejected all the board’s appeal points.

Justice Wylie wrote in his decision yesterday: “In my judgment, the independent hearings panel was entitled to reach the conclusions and make the recommendations it did. It heard evidence from a large number of parties, both for & against retaining (&/or expanding) the overlay. It was for the panel as a specialist independent body to exercise its judgment in evaluating the evidence put before it at the hearings.

“It was open to the panel to recommend deletion of the sites of value to mana whenua overlay on the basis that, without evidence of mana whenua values that provided support for all of the sites in the schedule and in the overlay, the provisions as a whole lacked a sufficient evidential basis.”

When Auckland Council released its draft unitary plan in March 2013, it proposed 2 layers of protection for sites & places of Maori cultural heritage. The first contained a schedule of 61 sites of significance, and the second contained a Maori cultural heritage alert layer which would extend to about 9000 sites.

After feedback, the plan was amended in September 2013 and the second layer was reduced to 3600 sites. However, an error on the planning maps meant the radius of circled sites was doubled to 100m.

In evidence in 2015, the council told the independent hearings panel 2213 sites met the criteria of being Maori, had mana whenua values ascribed to them, and their location was confirmed. The council recommended another 1373 be removed from the schedule.

In March 2016, the council withdrew 593 sites, left 3007 scheduled, and said 2213 were considered to be of Maori origin, had cultural values for mana whenua and their locations had been confirmed.

However, the hearings panel decided to recommend to the council that it delete the schedule in its entirety “until the evidential basis for it has been assembled”.

When the council went through the final process on the plan, going through all the hearings panel’s recommendations and deciding whether to accept or reject them, staff recommended rejecting the panel’s deletion of the Maori places schedule.

The councillors, however, decided to accept the panel’s recommendations, which led the Independent Maori Statutory Board to appeal, eventually, on 9 points of law.

On each one, Justice Wylie found the hearings panel was entitled to reach the conclusion it did.

Auckland University environmental law associate professor Ken Palmer, who appeared on the appeal on his own account, argued that the council’s approach to the evaluation of sites of value to mana whenua didn’t follow the conventional approach, went beyond reasonable regulation and added a layer of complexity & uncertainty to the plan, placing an added burden on the owners of the affected private land.

If the council accepted a recommendation of the independent hearings panel, it didn’t have to give reasons. Justice Wylie accepted that point in dismissing the Independent Maori Statutory Board’s appeal.

Attribution: Judgment.

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Propbd on Q Th29Sept16 – Unappealed unitary plan sections operative, short results from 7 auction sessions

Council makes operative what it can of the unitary plan
Results from 7 auction sessions
Both units passed in at Ray White auction
5 units sell at Barfoots
Newton Rise apartment sells at City Sales auction
5 apartments sell at Bayleys, commercial unit prior
7 intensive properties sell at Barfoots’ Wednesday auctions

I haven’t done a Propbd on Q for a while, but I’ve got far enough behind over the last couple of days that it makes sense to offer you the short version of auctions.

I spent a couple of hours at the Town Hall this morning – skipped out after the governing body approved making the unitary plan operative (minus the parts that have been appealed) and before the valedictories. The council’s annual report went through without question.

Council makes operative what it can of the unitary plan

Auckland Council’s governing body took 20 minutes today to make its unitary plan operative, excluding those parts subject to appeal or judicial review.

Regional coastal plan provisions not subject to challenge will go to the Minister of Conservation, Maggie Barry, for approval.

Franklin councillor Bill Cashmore, re-elected unopposed, will handle any matters that can be resolved without a hearing from the end of the current council’s term on 16 October and the first meeting of the newly reconvened governing body on 1 November.

Regulatory services director Penny Pirrit told the governing body today one joint appeal lodged by Auckland 2040 & the Character Coalition was broad in scope and had the potential to impact residential development around the region.

Both organisations opposed the unitary plan independent hearings panel’s resolution of how out-of-scope matters should be dealt with, and that’s the basis of the appeal to the High Court.

Results from 7 auction sessions

Below, the brief results of 7 auctions over the last 2 days – 4 sessions at Barfoot & Thompson’s city rooms, the others at Bayleys, City Sales & Ray White City Apartments.

All up, 79 properties were on offer, of which 34 were sold. Excluding standalone homes on regular sections, but including some development land and a couple of houses broken into flats, 18 were sold out of the 40 properties I categorise as intensive.

I’ll have more detail overnight on all auctions.

Both units passed in at Ray White auction

A Mt Eden unit and a Metropolis apartment were both passed in at Ray White City Apartments’ auction today. Auction results:

Mt Eden, 66 Mt Eden Rd, unit 12B, passed in after bid of $340,000, reserve reduced to $360,000, agent Krister Samuel
Metropolis, 1 Courthouse Lane, unit 1508, passed in at $820,000, James Mairs

5 units sell at Barfoots

Barfoot & Thompson sold 4 apartments in the morning and one suburban unit in the afternoon at its city residential auctions today. Auction results:

The Quadrant, 10 Waterloo Quadrant, unit 1314, sold for $430,000, Romelle Smith & Alan Vessey
Columbia on Nelson, 15 Nelson St, unit 3X, no bid, Livia Li & Alan Guo
Tower Hill, 1 Emily Place, unit 13D, passed in at $700,000, Ashlee Zhang & Ocean Shao
Parkside, 6H Scotia Place, no bid, Selina Zheng & Tommy Zhang
Herne Bay, 5 Curran St, unit 3, sold for $800,000, Louise Stringer & Jim Liu
Parnell, 30 Heather St, unit 2C, sold for $710,000, Annie Xu & Sean Zhang
Greenlane, 2 Atarangi Rd, unit 2, passed in, Aaron Cook & Betty Shao
Oakwood Hall, 81 Wakefield St, unit 5A, sold for $240,000, Ashlee Zhang & Ocean Shao
Onehunga, 66F Grey St, sold for $395,000, Richard Prasad
Mt Eden, 19 Ellerton Rd (7–bedroom home converted into 3 flats), passed in at $1.9 million, Gill Macdonald

Newton Rise apartment sells at City Sales auction

An apartment in the Newton Rise building, Eden Terrace, was sold under the hammer at City Sales’ auction yesterday.

Newton Rise, 121 Newton Rd, unit 4B, sold for $636,000, Steve Kirk & Habeeb Urrahman

5 apartments sell at Bayleys, commercial unit prior

5 apartments were sold at Bayleys’ residential auction yesterday and a commercial unit in the Wairau Valley was sold prior at a 5.19% yield. Auction results:

96 on Symonds, 96 Symonds St, unit 803, no bid, Marcus Fava
Hobson Quay, 10 Hobson St, unit 3J, sold for $396,000, Dave Hamlyn & Marcus Fava
Parnell, Aero Apartments, 27 Cheshire St, unit 20, sold for $702,000, Chris Reeves
Eden Terrace, Newton Rise, 121 Newton Rd, unit 3B, sold for $600,000, Jan Honey
Herne Bay, 2A Buller St, unit 1, sold for $1.43 million, Robyn Clark & Peter Tanner
Herne Bay, 11 Sentinel Rd, no bid, Jock Kooger & Pawel Smuga
Mt Eden, 1 Akiraho St, unit 14, sold for $710,000, Summer Sun
Mt Roskill, 1370-1376 Dominion Rd, 2800m² development site, passed in at $3.8 million, Glenn Baker

Wairau Valley, 16 Link Drive, unit L, sold prior for $1.19 million at a 5.19% yield, Trevor Duffin & Ashton Geissler

7 intensive properties sell at Barfoots’ Wednesday auctions

7 of 18 properties in a range of intensity (apartments, suburban units, townhouses, cross-leased houses) auctioned at Barfoot & Thompson on Wednesday were sold under the hammer. Auction results:

Onehunga, 461 Onehunga Mall, unit 2, cross-leased, sold for $1.25 million, agent Paul Studman
Te Atatu South, 12 Poto Rd (house converted to 2 flats), no bid, Sharlene Huang
Glendowie, 14C Crossfield Rd, cross-leased, sold for $790,000, Jane Wang & Dragon Zhou
Remuera, 128A Upland Rd, cross-leased, passed in at $1.3 million, Dennis Dunford
Panmure, 51 Ireland Rd, unit 36, townhouse, passed in at $528,000, Rain Diao & Jane Chen
Mt Eden, 8 Graysons Lane, cross-leased, sold for $1.885 million, Repeka Lelaulu
Remuera, 103 Remuera Rd, unit 2, terrace, no bid, Ross & Joss Goodall
New Lynn, 1 Armstrong Place, unit 1, cross-leased, passed in, Aken Yuan & Michelle Zhou
Belmont, 13 Creamer Avenue, unit 3, cross-leased, passed in, Jonathan White
Meadowbank, 86 St Johns Rd, unit 2, cross-leased, no bid, Chase Liu
Mt Eden, 3 Akiraho St, unit 9, apartment, sold for $861,000, George Fong & Laura McAuley
Herne Bay, 15B Saratoga Avenue, cross-leased unit, passed in, Carl Madsen & George Damiris
Mt Eden, 25 Rossmay Terrace, unit 18, townhouse, no bid, Repeka Lelaulu
Howick, 47 Drake St, unit 2, cross-leased, sold for $850,000, Doug Lum
Epsom, 1A Merivale Avenue, unit, passed in, George Fong & Alex Wu
Avondale, 48 Eastdale Rd, unit 3, cross-leased, sold for $565,000, Francis Fan
New Lynn, 66 Arawa St, unit 2, cross-leased, no bid, Steve Su
Te Atatu Peninsula, 9B Tawa Rd, cross-leased unit, sold for $560,000, Emma Zhang

Attribution: Auctions, council.

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108 appeals on unitary plan

Submitters on Auckland’s unitary plan had lodged 105 appeals with the Environment Court & 3 with the High Court when the appeal period closed on Friday.

The High Court appeals on questions of law are by the Independent Maori Statutory Board on protection of mana whenua sites, Kiwi Property Group Ltd on the threshold change from a site to tenancy basis for allowance of office space, and the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society on replacement of the prohibited activity default status in the ranges with non-complying status.

The appeal period ran for 20 working days after the council publicly notified its decisions on 19 August.

Auckland Council appeals page
Environment Court appeals page

Attribution: Council release & website, Environment Court list.

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Unitary plan meets notification deadline

Auckland Council publicly notified its unitary plan decisions today, meeting the next deadline in the process to replace the 8 predecessor councils’ district & regional plans.

The decisions version of the new plan will be available on the council website from 5pm today (link below).

The council’s public notice also includes points on the hearing panel’s out-of-scope recommendations, designations, appeal rights and special arrangements for appeals.

Links: Auckland Council, unitary plan section
Environment Court, unitary plan appeals

Attribution: Council notice.

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Unitary plan deliberations all done

Auckland Council has cranked out its unitary plan in under 4 days of decision-making.

It’s the culmination of nearly 6 years’ work on a range of plans that began to be formulated when the super-city Auckland Council took over governance of the region from one regional, 4 city & 3 district councils in November 2010.

The unitary plan covers both regional (earthworks & land use) & district (zoning) sets of rules in a package that has the regional policy statement at the top.

The council completed its proposed unitary plan in September 2013, sent it to an independent hearings panel to consider submissions, and the panel sent its recommendations back to the council on 22 July. After some workshops, the council’s governing body set about making determinations on the panel’s recommendations last Wednesday, and finished the job today.

The council will publicly notify its decisions on Friday 19 August. The statutory 20 working day period for limited appeals closes on Friday 16 September.

Key decisions mean the unitary plan will provide for:

  • Capacity for 400,000 new homes to meet the demands of Auckland’s growth over the next 30 years
  • Expansion of the rural:urban boundary to open up more new land for development as the city grows, with flexibility to move the boundary through private plan changes
  • A more compact city with opportunities to build more homes in the existing urban area of 2-3 storeys, and up to 6 storeys near town centres & transport hubs
  • A focus on high quality urban design, including the requirement for a resource consent for more than 3 dwellings on a site that complies with urban design rules and a minimum size for apartments
  • Protection of historic heritage with about 120 additional historic places scheduled, as well as the retention of protection of 74 volcanic viewshafts, and
  • Managing rural areas so rural activities are their primary focus.

Attribution: Council release.

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“Integrated & coherent” are the key words in unitary plan recommendations

The recommendations the independent panel on Auckland’s unitary plan delivered to the council 10 days ago contain 28 headline points. The primary points to note are 2 words in the first of these points: “integrated & coherent”.

The plan was about getting uniformity to how one region should deal with land use, replacing the multitude of different rules of the 7 territorial councils & one regional council that the super-city Auckland Council replaced in October 2010.

Scope has been provided in the panel’s recommendations for ad hoc changes through plan changes – which the council didn’t want when it sent its proposed plan to the panel in September 2013 – and also for enlargement of the urban footprint through expansion of the proposed rural:urban boundary.

There was a great deal of noise about removing that boundary in the weeks leading up to the panel’s delivery of its recommendations to the council on 22 July, and the council’s release of the documents last Wednesday.

The old boundary, called the metropolitan urban limits, was charged with causing the failure to supply enough land for urban development & consequent escalation in land & house prices. The boundary wasn’t the problem, its application was. It should have been moved a number of times over the last 20 years to take changing needs & rising population into account.

No matter where the urban area expands to, the supply of infrastructure for access & services requires systems, lead time & funding.

The other major factor is the residential makeup of that urban footprint, which has changed many times even in the last 50 years. Many changes are on their way, some very soon. They will require changes to the unitary plan on which Auckland Council will deliberate over the next few weeks, probably before all the appeals are settled.

One change is to reduce travel time, either by living closer to what you want to do or by making the journey faster. The city rail link is criticised by some as old technology but will be a game changer in providing faster off-road access and leading to the development of business & residential hubs around stations.

One argument to be fought is over the “old leafy” suburbs, their houses & their overall appearance. First, those suburbs aren’t so old. Second, a flawed kind of intensification has been occurring in them over the last 30 years as property owners chopped up their back yards, cross-leased & sold off at large profit, increasing land values sharply as they went. The result has been a low level of intensity hindering more efficient & cheaper structural change.

These are the hearing panel’s starting points:

  1. Provide a more integrated & coherent strategy for management of the region’s resources
  2. Focus urban growth on centres, transport nodes & corridors to achieve a quality compact urban form
  3. Retain the rural:urban boundary but expand it to include 30% more land and enable it to be changed by private plan changes
  4. Enable a development pattern to meet demand for the next 30 years and double the feasible enabled residential capacity to exceed 400,000 dwellings
  5. Ensure sufficient capacity for the next 7 years
  6. Enable the growth & development of new or existing rural towns & villages
  7. Provide live residential & business zonings for some developments on the edge of existing urban areas
  8. Support new precincts as a place-based response to local planning issues and to enable greater & more targeted development opportunities
  9. Delete provisions for framework plans and enable comprehensive consenting processes for subdivision, including earthworks & provision of infrastructure
  10. Remove density controls in residential zones
  11. Maintain amenity values using bulk & location standards
  12. Promote good quality residential development through assessment methods
  13. Provide for affordable housing choice with a mix of dwelling types, adaptation of existing housing stock and doubling of enabled supply
  14. Protect historic heritage places and retain special character areas
  15. Delete the pre-1944 building demolition control overlay
  16. Use the statutory notification provisions in the Resource Management Act as the standard tests.
  17. Ensure that assessment matters for restricted discretionary activities are in fact restricted
  18. Remove or reduce requirements for onsite parking
  19. Streamline network infrastructure provisions in one section
  20. Enable rural production activities & rural subdivision that supports rural production & the protection of biodiversity values
  21. Protect air, land, water & ecosystem resources from the adverse effects of population growth
  22. Protect identified natural, social & cultural values of significant ecological areas, outstanding natural landscapes & features, areas of outstanding & high natural character & views to & between the maunga
  23. Promote resilience to natural hazards
  24. Delete the schedule of sites of value to mana whenua until the evidential basis for it has been assembled
  25. Delete references to cultural impact assessments & design statements and rely on the standard requirements for assessment of effects on the environment
  26. Delete plan provisions where effects are better managed by other methods
  27. Promote evidence-based methods for ongoing assessment of urban capacity (for both residential & business activities) and for identifying significant resource values
  28. Do not use plan methods (zones, overlays & Auckland-wide provisions) to duplicate controls.

Enabling versus prevention

You will see from those points that the panel’s standpoint has been primarily to enable rather than prevent, in line with the thinking that resulted in the Resource Management Act being enacted in 1991. Application of the act in the intervening 25 years has primarily boiled down to the opposite – prevention instead of enabling.

Managing growth

The panel listed 12 points to manage use & development to provide for growth. 4 of those are particularly worth noting:

  • Supporting proposals at Warkworth, Redhills, Okura, Maraetai, Wainui East, Hobsonville West, Puhinui, Pararekau Island, Kingseat & Pukekohe for operative (rather than future urban) zonings on the edge of the existing urban area where the evidence demonstrated that appropriate structure planning had been undertaken and the availability of infrastructure was not a constraint
  • Supporting several proposals for new precincts as a place-based response to local planning issues and to enable greater development opportunities where that is appropriate
  • Supporting the council’s submission to remove density controls as a defining element of residential zones
  • Revising a number of the prescriptive residential bulk & location standards to enable additional capacity while maintaining residential amenity values.

Outcome-based criteria at forefront

A fifth, I think, will run into the old war zone of enable versus prevention, where prevention has mostly dominated, enable occasionally has and the many compromises have often been worse than leaning fully one way or the other. The fifth recommendation (No 8 on the list) reads: “Promoting better intensive residential development through outcome-based criteria for the assessment of resource consents.”

2 others make great sense, one to revise onsite parking requirements which have lifted the cost of developments when many of the tenants had no need for a car, or where alternative thinking would have enabled public transport improvements and the associated growth of rental transport. The second of these points is to improve the efficiency of network operators in the supply of their infrastructure.

The panel has recommended deleting material relating to those networks “better addressed by other means”, and has done the same in several other instances.

Shifting clutter out of plan

One of the others is to shift “information” distinct from rules & regulations, such as design guidelines, out of the plan so it can be dealt with better in other ways, such as under the Building Act or the council’s design guidelines.

The panel wants the council to give up the use of framework plans – “a voluntary resource consent that enables landowners to demonstrate & achieve integrated development”, according to the council definition. The panel saw insufficient reasons to retain this consenting method when applicants could supply a bundle of consents relating to site development & provision of infrastructure.

Bundling in the framework sense often comes down to an issue of control, so the consent authority can package what it sees as best, versus a developer’s view on the best way forward. Such confrontations are a good way to build resentment, but switching from a framework to a differently named package may not resolve anything.

The fight to retain heritage has often revolved around campaigners trying to keep what they themselves don’t own, but which may be a key feature of an environment’s character. Auckland City Council spent years trying to reduce the argument to simple rules, and age became an important facet, resulting in the “pre-1944” guideline on demolition.

The panel wrote that, on the evidence before it, “there was an insufficient basis to restrict the demolition of buildings based solely on their age. The argument that the unitary plan should, on an alleged precautionary basis, manage the demolition of buildings in areas that may have ‘unidentified significant historic heritage places or unidentified ‘special’ character areas’ was not supported by evidence of the likelihood that such values would be identified, or that the rate of demolition required such a restriction”.

Likewise, the panel recommended the schedule of sites of value to mana whenua be deleted. At a late stage in the hearings, the council withdrew items that were on privately owned land, but the panel said ownership wasn’t an appropriate basis for applying such a control.

The panel has looked at effective process rather than just deleting rules that have taken time to create, advocating a 2-tier process relating to both historic heritage & protection of sites of value to mana whenua, identifying, evaluating & scheduling them through the policy framework in the regional policy statement.

Finally, for today’s story, the panel made a point about the submission process as “a very important part of the planning process [but] not the only part”. Councils often turn a large volume of support for a particular cause into “one”; the panel, in its overview, has included future generations among those it needs to care about.

Attribution: Panel recommendations.

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Attempt to scuttle Maori vote on unitary plan fails

The “unelected”, who will be “sitting in judgment” on Auckland Council’s unitary plan. Members of the Independent Maori Statutory Board, who are appointed to council committees by their board, were again the target of a bitter minority attack at the council governing body’s monthly meeting yesterday.

The debate – and the aspersions – arose as the council’s governing body decided whether to run a one-tier (governing body only) or 2-tier (through the Auckland development committee, then finally up to the governing body) process to consider the recommendations of the hearing panel on the unitary plan.

Either way, it needs to be done by 19 August, so the council can post its decisions on Friday 20 August, and in the end the decision was clearcut – 13-8 in favour of a 2-tier process (with no Maori board participation in that vote).

More importantly, in a close vote, the 2 Maori board members of the development committee have generally supported mayor Len Brown & deputy mayor Penny Hulse’s position. Those Maori board members sit on committees, but not on the governing body, so at the highest level the mayor loses that occasionally crucial support.

The mayor said councillors also had much more scope to debate at committee level: “On the governing body you have one right to speak & limited questions.”


The “unelected” arrive on the Maori board via contested processes at their mana whenua groups, and they are as elected as half the members of Parliament, who arrive in the House of Representatives through electors’ votes for party lists of MPs after party chiefs decide who will be top & who bottom of those lists.

While swatting off the many personal barbs delivered at them, what the Maori board members of the council’s Auckland development committee have achieved – apart from choosing to speak sense & briefly, which are rare attributes in the council chamber – is firm up the mayor’s majority in votes on the unitary plan.

At odds with the mayor’s stance, Orakei councillor Cameron Brewer has supported measures making it harder to intensify the wealthy eastern suburbs of the isthmus, where the soaring house prices – matched with limited supply & limited opportunity to increase supply – have led the escalation in prices nationally.

The other leading opponent of the mayor’s position that favours intensifying, Cllr Dick Quax, has constantly questioned the compact-city concept and favoured enabling more greenfield development.

Potential conflicts the means of attack

The attack this time was through the potential for conflicts of interest, as Maori groups that statutory board members are associated with have submitted on the unitary plan. In the other direction, Cllr Cathy Casey raised a potential conflict for Cllr Sharon Stewart (a Howick ward councillor who almost always supports fellow Howick representative Cllr Quax’s stance). Cllr Casey said Cllr Stewart had made disparaging remarks about mana whenua and made allegations of corruption.

The mayor & councillors are taking legal advice on possible conflicts, and Mr Brown said he wouldn’t know of anybody’s position on this until the first decision-making meeting on the unitary plan on 10 August, when it would up to individuals to declare any conflict.

Cllr Alf Filipaina commented: “The question for me is, why is it important for the Independent Maori Statutory Board to be out of the process? They were appointed to make this council accountable under the Treaty of Waitangi. The board has been part of the design of the plan. They have been here from the outset.”

Cllr Chris Darby: High praise for Maori board member Ngamene’s commitment.

Cllr Chris Darby: High praise for Maori board member Ngamene’s commitment.

One Maori board member, Liane Ngamane, won high praise from one councillor, Chris Darby, who is deputy chair of the development committee and also chaired a mediation group which dealt with urgent responses to the panel that heard submissions on the unitary plan.

Cllrs Darby & Callum Penrose noted that this group frequently had trouble raising or maintaining a quorum for its after-hours meetings, but Ms Ngamene made it her business to be there or, because she had family commitments in the Coromandel, would conference call from the side of the road to deal with urgent matters that had to be turned around the next day, on all manner of topics: “It was phenomenal commitment,” Cllr Darby said.


The question of the Maori board members’ existence at the council has been the subject of vituperative comment from Cllr Mike Lee, who this time voted to support the 2-tier process to consider the hearing panel’s recommendations on the unitary plan, which will take the debate through the development committee before a final wrap-up at the governing body.

Cllr Mike Lee: Switched his vote this time.

Cllr Mike Lee: Switched his vote this time.

Cllr Lee thought Maori board members (and anybody else) who’d submitted on the unitary plan, or been involved in preparing submissions, ought to disqualify themselves from participating in the final decision-making, and wanted assurance that the governing body debate wouldn’t be “a rush-through job” after more careful deliberation at committee level.

Cllr Lee, more than any other member of the council, has had a longer & more potent role in the history leading to the unitary plan, dating back to his time chairing the Auckland Regional Council, which staunchly fought territorial councils’ attempts to open up land for housing development. He was firmly opposed to growth, or providing for growth.

But the lead role in opposing Maori board members’ participation in the unitary plan decision-making process fell to Cllrs Brewer & Quax.

Quax: It defies democracy

Cllr Dick Quax, espousing why the Maori board shouldn’t participate.

Cllr Dick Quax, espousing why the Maori board shouldn’t participate.

Cllr Quax said: “I think now the expectation is that the decisions will be made, and the deliberations will be made, by the governing body – the 20 members who are elected by their communities & the mayor, elected at large to lead the city. And so that is the expectation of the community, and I don’t think that having it delegated to a committee is what the public would expect.

“The decision needs the gravitas & the consideration of the governing body. The conflict I have, apart from the conflicted position that the Independent Maori Statutory Board have, is that it defies democracy to have people who are unelected, who are not accountable, sitting in judgment on the plan which is of huge importance to Auckland. It just doesn’t make sense to have people who are unelected and who are unaccountable to the community – we [the councillors] are all accountable….

“It’s wrong to say that the Independent Maori Statutory Board have not been involved in this process. They have been involved in this process right from the outset, through the Auckland development committee, through the unitary plan committee, they have been involved in this process. We have discharged our obligation under the legislation because the legislation calls on the Independent Maori board to advise council – not to make decisions but to advise council on matters of physical & natural resources.

“So to say that, oh well, this is the decision we made around financial, in fact is quite vexatious because they don’t need – they shouldn’t even be on that particular committee. It’s quite wrong and, in fact, the Government in 2010 sent a letter to the mayor expressing surprise that the mayor had put the Independent Maori Statutory Board members on every committee of this council. They said that that was not their expectation, and it certainly wasn’t their expectation that they [board members] would be sitting here on judgment of the most important plan and making decisions.

“So the 2-tier process that is being proposed here is going to provide a more cumbersome process.”

Issues where there is a close vote at committee level would be relitigated at the governing body, he said.

“If we had wanted to have this passed by a group that was unelected, we should have just said to the independent hearings panel, ‘This is your decision to make, we won’t take any part in the final debate’.

“I won’t be supporting the 2-tier process. I think it is cumbersome, expensive, and I think it is actually a disgrace on democracy to have unelected people sitting in judgment of a plan on which they also submitted.”

[The legislation allows the council to appoint board members to any committees, and says nothing about whether board members should have a vote or not.]

Casey: Attack is insult to people who’ve inspired

Cllr Cathy Casey, holding up the Maori board’s annual report: An insult to say no now.

Cllr Cathy Casey, holding up the Maori board’s annual report: An insult to say no now.

Cllr Cathy Casey, responding, said: “If it is the most important decision we make (Fletcher said), which it, who are we to say Maori shouldn’t have a voice. And I think that’s what this is all about. It’s either you have the Independent Maori Statutory Board, which is our only Maori voice because we have no Maori seats.

“This is about what councillors perceive as the legitimacy of the Independent Maori Statutory Board. That is not what I would want, I would want elected members round this table, but that is what we’ve got…. To say at this late stage you cannot take part is not judgment, Cllr Quax… We’re not inviting them to sit in judgment, we’re inviting them to continue the process of looking at the recommendations. It’s we [councillors] who sit in judgment, and that’s a 2-stage process, which you didn’t have a problem with back in April, when you were at this [governing body] meeting where it was discussed….

“There is a barrier between some councillors & the IMSB, but it’s being dressed up differently. But it’s about whether you think Maori should have a voice on the discussions of the independent hearings panel proposals or not, and I think if you say ‘No’ you’re not just insulting the Independent Maori Statutory Board – whose members we have sat with for the last 6 years, and I welcomed them to my committee, and they’ve been an enormous source of inspiration for me – and now you’re saying ‘Actually, no’. For whatever reason, and there’s a whole host of reasons being given. The reason you need to have them here, as David [Taupiri] says in his chairman’s introduction: ‘We sit on the panels to ensure Maori perspectives are heard within a wide range of decision-making process.

“If you say to the Independent Maori Statutory Board you’re effectively saying no to the Maori perspective being heard.”

Wood: It’s not about the Maori board

Cllr George Wood said: “It’s not about the IMSB, it’s about the process. The act says the only organisation that can approve the unitary plan is the governing body… To have the matter dealt with by 2 groups of this council is unfair, we’ve got no idea how this matter’s going to play out whe it comes to committees or the governing body, and to have it dealt with twice, I believe it will be a cut-down version when it gets to the governing body…..

“The Independent Maori Statutory Board, I don’t know how they work but I believe they get their riding instructions before they get here. We’ve been told it’s got to be independent decisions by ourselves and we make the decisions without fear or favour… It’s the biggest decision this council will ever make and I don’t believe it should be done by the 2-tier process that the mayor has put forward.”

The vote

Councillors for handling the whole unitary plan process at the governing body: Brewer, Fletcher, Krum, Quax, Stewart, Wayne Walker, Watson, Wood.

Councillors wanting it to go through development committee then governing body: Anae, Casey, Cashmore, Clow, Cooper, Darby, Filipaina, Hulse, Lee, Penrose, Sir John Walker, Webster, and the mayor.

Court of Appeal judgment 15 September 2015
Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009

Earlier stories:
21 October 2015: Mataawaka representation on Auckland Council still unresolved
22 November 2014: Willie Jackson forces re-election for Maori statutory board seat

Attribution: Council meeting.

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Hearing panel cleans up the unitary plan

The independent panel called to make recommendations on Auckland Council’s proposed unitary plan took a scalpel to a large swathe of the document – called “information” – saying the plan should just have rules & regulations. It focused on intensification, reinforced the need for urban boundaries, and believes it has provided sufficient capacity for growth over the next 30 years.

Among its more controversial recommendations, it’s advocated removing density controls in residential zones, moved quality control out of the plan because it’s dealt with through other documents, and said the pre-1944 building demolition control overlay should be deleted.

Auckland Council published the panel’s unitary plan recommendations yesterday afternoon.

The council notified its proposed plan in September 2013, and the panel has heard evidence on it for the last 2 years.

The council will make decisions on the recommendations in meetings open to the public from 10-18 August, and publicly notified those decisions on Friday 19 August.

I’ll go through the recommendations in more detail later today. In the meantime, some pointers on what to look for:

The panel has provided an overview of what it’s set about trying to achieve. That in itself is comprehensive, running to 122 pages. It’s also provided maps. You can get to the whole of the panel’s recommendations through the links below.

Links: Unitary plan

Independent hearings panel reports & recommendations 

Attribution: Council briefing, panel overview.

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Opinions aplenty on unitary plan recommendations

The independent panel that heard submissions on Auckland’s proposed unitary plan delivered its recommendations to the council on Friday and the package was unveiled to councillors and publicly yesterday.

The council decides this morning whether to deliberate as the governing body, thus excluding input from members of the Independent Maori Statutory Board, or to hold the deliberations at the Auckland development committee, with a final decision made by the governing body.

The committee is a committee of the whole – all councillors – and Maori board members are also members of that committee.

The council has 20 working days to consider the panel’s recommendations of the IHP and has to publicly notify its decisions by Friday 19 August. It will begin consideration of the recommendations on Wednesday 10 August.

While the council isn’t commenting until then, plenty of other people had instant opinions. Below are those I collected yesterday.

Housing Minister Nick Smith will give council clear air to decide

Building, Housing & Environment Minister Nick Smith said the new plan was crucial to Auckland’s future: “Auckland’s current planning rules date back to the 1990s, 7 different councils & 400,000 fewer people. The independent hearings panel has done a good job of addressing the complex issues and balancing the competing interests.

“The new plan is by its nature a complex document as it affects the development rules on more than 550,000 property titles, as well as the issues of water management, air quality & the marine environment. I am encouraged by the high-level briefing on the plan’s content received from officials today. The new plan appears to meet many of the housing objectives for Auckland. It will take time for both ministers & government agencies to comprehend the full detail.

“We acknowledge the reported-back unitary plan poses a major challenge for the council. Auckland previously could not resolve the tension between the old regional council wanting a tight metropolitan urban limit and the district & city councils wanting more growth outwards. This confusion resulted in too little provision for growth and the current housing challenges. The strength of a single Auckland Council is that this issue will be resolved.

“The Government has confidence that Mayor Len Brown & the council understand how important the new plan is to Auckland’s future. We will be giving the council clear air to make a considered decision. We also have officials working to ensure a smooth transition from the special housing areas to the new unitary plan, to maintain the momentum we have achieved in new home construction.”

Barnett wants adoption of plan as package

Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett urged the council to adopt the unitary plan as a package: “Councillors cherrypicking recommendations would be unhelpful,” he said.

“If there are wrinkles in the new plan that need sorting, these can be addressed as plan changes to what by then would be the new, single plan.”

Noting that the panel had stressed that its recommendations were integrated & consistent, and any changes could have consequential changes elsewhere in the document, he said: “Councillors need to be careful not to expose the council to appeals, resulting in more delay, confusion & expense.

“Auckland is at a stage where we have to move forward and get past the patch protection mentality. We all know many more houses are needed immediately. This plan provides a clear pathway for faster action.

“My sense is that the business community wants the plan adopted as a package, so we can move on with greater speed & certainty.”

However, he indicated concern that the panel appeared to have concentrated on existing corridors & central suburbs with provision for 270,000 of the 422,000 dwellings it wants built by 2030: “Will we be able to make the huge investment in transport infrastructure that will be required – my sense is ‘no’.”

McMahon says recommendations will alleviate pressures

Colliers’ national director of research & consulting, Alan McMahon, believes the panel’s key recommendations will encourage & accommodate growth and urges the council to adopt them.

He said it was pleasing to see a recognition of the importance of allowing land for business developments to occur, which was a major employment-generating component of cities.

“We are in a time of strong growth in demand for office & industrial property, and as a result need land to accommodate this growth. Office vacancy is at an all-time low, with only enough empty office space to accommodate around 10,000 more workers – 3-4 years’ supply.

“Industrial land is currently being taken up at a record rate, with more than 70ha developed in 2015 and very little available for sale.

“The panel’s recommendations to focus urban growth on centres, transport nodes & corridors, and to enable doubling of residential capacity to more than 400,000 dwellings in the next 30 years, not only accelerates residential growth but helps protect land for business growth.

“We welcome the recommendations for increased clarity in zones with multiple potential uses. For example, changing some future urban-zoned land to light industry, and increasing the amount of land zoned for heavy industry, will provide more reliable guidance as to likely acceptable uses for these employment-generating areas.”

Mr McMahon also welcomed the recommendation to expand the rural:urban boundary (RUB) by 30%, but noted that many greenfield sites within the RUB haven’t yet been developed.

“While the unitary plan will be a key facilitator of development, which we urgently need, it is only one plank. The other key to successful residential development is infrastructure provision.

“Supply acceleration needs to be dramatic if it is to catch up with demand. Improved affordability won’t happen with anything less. Infrastructure delivery at speed & scale is required to service increased housing supply.

“Infrastructure bonds are one way of facilitating this. Council, developers & first-homebuyers all benefit from spreading the burden of infrastructure over time.”

Recommendations to remove density controls in more intensive residential zones, and reduce on-site parking will also alleviate housing pressures and improve development viability.

“We support the recommendation for less single house zone and more terraced housing & apartments, and more mixed housing urban-zoned land.

“In locations where existing amenity, transport & overall convenience are already of a good standard, this will stimulate demand from a whole range of buyers, or renters, across many typologies & price point, and encourage development.”

Eaton says councillors need to think to future, not dwell on present

Property Council Auckland branch president Phil Eaton congratulated the hearings panel on delivering a set of forward-thinking unitary plan recommendations that set a clear & considered path for Auckland to follow as it transforms into the world’s most liveable city. However, he said these recommendations had a long way to go.

“Proposed zoning & rule changes will enable substantial transformation of existing communities. Some will view the changes negatively, many will be positive about the opportunities it creates for them. This is about building a city that is inclusive. To be inclusive, we need to deliver many diverse housing typologies in places where people want to live.

“It’s important to remember that cities are organic and in a constant state of flux. We need councillors to think not about now, but how Auckland will develop & evolve in the future. The very consultative & robust approach the panel have taken provides this direction.

“On the face of it, if these recommendations are accepted, they will go a long way to achieving the housing density Auckland desperately needs. It is extremely positive to see greater zoning for townhouses, apartments & mixed-housing.

“The panel’s focus on providing feasible development capacity for housing is a substantial win for the Property Council & its members. For nearly 4 years we have consistently advocated that the previous versions of the unitary plan did not provide the feasible development capacity for housing that Auckland desperately needed. We see the identified housing capacity of 422,000 as a substantial advocacy win. The panel has clearly listened to us & our members.

“The panel also clearly understands the need to provide housing density around town centres & the public transport network. Providing access to housing, jobs & amenities is crucial to the future economic & social prosperity of Auckland.

“Auckland also needs to grow out as well as up. We are living with the failure of the old Auckland Regional Council to move the urban growth boundary out. Through this inaction, they choked land supply, which has contributed to the skyrocketing cost of land.

“The Property Council is pleased to see that the urban growth boundary will be flexible & fluid, in that it will be able to be relocated by way of a plan change. It’s a positive to see new developments can occur outside the existing boundaries, Auckland needs this flexible approach to meet the challenges of the existing housing supply shortage. On top of this they have recommended the rezoning of another 1000ha of land as urban and acknowledged the importance of infrastructure in providing housing supply.

“Today is a huge win for those who believe in an Auckland that caters for its current & future residents. Not only Aucklanders, but all of New Zealand needs an Auckland that will grow in a dynamic & positive way. The panel’s recommendations are a huge step forward in making this a reality.”

Harcourts chief welcomes the new blueprint

Harcourts chief executive Chris Kennedy said “In a city screaming out for more housing, the bold new blueprints for Auckland, at first glance, look exactly like what we need for our small, international city to realise its potential.

“The lack of housing supply in Auckland has driven prices up significantly over the last several years.

“Increased migration has enabled our economy to thrive. However, it has also left our biggest city unable to house everyone who wants to live here.

“We are not going to stop immigration. Realistically, we are not going to be able to stop people buying investment properties.

“We need more houses. Intensification is necessary, and is nothing to be feared as long as it’s done well.

“All the major cities of the world have large chunks of mid-density & high density housing.”

“Auckland’s house prices have risen furiously over recent years. In June, the average house sold for

$909,733, a huge 10% jump on the previous year. Total new listings, by comparison, dropped by 5%.

“This trend of ever-diminishing supply & resulting price hikes has led to our current housing crisis, and ‘band aids’ like loan:valuation ratio restrictions have not been able to buck the trend.

“Today’s recommendation that 422,000 new dwellings be provided for over the next 30 years, with expansion of the urban boundary & more intensification, is – at first sight – good news.

“Change can be scary. But we have to accept the fact that Auckland is changing. We can either be prepared for it, or continue to flounder.

“And while the full consequences have yet to become apparent, this is a bold move that looks just like what Auckland needs. Let’s embrace the change.

“We must hope that Auckland Council is bold in its approach to these proposed plans and we can start working towards a more successful city.”

Property Institute chief says effects on heritage & mana whenua sites “bizarre & divisive”

Property Institute chief executive Ashley Church said a range of very positive recommendations in the panel’s report “have been completely overshadowed by a number of bizarre & divisive recommendations which must be resisted at all costs”.

Mr Church applauded widely anticipated recommendations around intensification and a revised target of 400,000 new dwellings over the next 30 years, a greater focus on metropolitan centres as a counter to the growing importance of the cbd, and the extension of urban growth boundaries to cater for this growth.

He said these proposals were worthwhile and would be strongly supported in many quarters. But he added that, having made these recommendations, “the panel then seems to have gone out of its way to offend as many people & groups as possible.

“I think most reasonable people knew that the document would outline the necessity of much greater intensification – but expected that to be balanced by a strong commitment to the protection of heritage & culture, requirements to maintain & enhance lifestyle facilities & amenities, and a very strong focus on the need to maintain quality & standards at all levels.

“Instead, we have a document that appears to be so obsessed with the development of new dwellings that it is prepared to forgo the things which have made Auckland into the world’s 3rd most liveable city.”

Mr Church pointed to recommendations to delete building demolition controls for pre-1944 houses and to delete the schedule of sites of value to mana whenua as ‘unnecessary acts of cultural vandalism’.

“These recommendations add nothing to the proposed document, and any perception that they might somehow speed up the development process is naïve & misplaced. Yet their application would progressively rip the soul out of the city on the altar of expediency.

“The recommendation that sites of value to mana whenua should be disregarded until the ‘evidential basis of their value has been assembled’ is particularly offensive and appears to pander to a small but vocal element rather than the wider interests of the city.”

Mr Church said Aucklanders had a right to expect that the plan setting out the growth of their city should be underpinned by a strong commitment to quality, liveability & respect for the past: “If it doesn’t achieve those things – what’s the point?”

Thomas says recommendations will disappoint those looking for balance

Mayoral candidate Mark Thomas said the panel’s recommendations “will disappoint many looking for a balanced growth plan for Auckland. The recommendations represent a massive upzoning of wide parts of Auckland, a 30% expansion of urban Auckland into rural areas and a reduction of character protection.

“The panel has added rocket fuel to the original proposed Auckland unitary plan. Very significant changes have been made, including adopting most of the earlier residential out-of-scope proposals that the council rejected in February and abandoning the pre-1944 character protection overlay with no replacement provision.

“The panel has additionally redefined the term ‘out-of-scope’, making it much harder for subsequent appeals if the recommendations are accepted by councillors.

“The panel recommends a 22% reduction in the single house zone, with central & west Auckland taking the biggest hits with over a 40% reduction.

“The panel proposes to expand the rural:urban boundary by 30%, which includes bringing forward 37,000 new dwellings in rural Auckland.

“The panel’s recommendations represent a ‘gangbusters’ approach to new housing, conceding that a future over-supply is preferable to what we have today.”

Mr Thomas said Auckland had an urgent housing crisis, but the council had been the biggest cause of slow progress by not funding new development adequately and being too slow to process consents.

“Based on my initial assessment, I don’t believe the panel has established the balance needed for growth in Auckland and I suspect many Aucklanders will be alarmed at what they see.”

Palino says Aucklanders don’t need this plan

Another mayoral candidate, John Palino, asked: “What do the panel’s recommendations say about you & your community? There must be a lot wrong with Auckland if this is the plan. I’m all over the city every day and I hear that people love their city, they value their community and they want to keep living in their neighbourhood.

“But apparently they’re wrong. An unelected panel has determined there is so much wrong with Auckland that there isn’t really worth anything keeping.

“Heritage – gone. Character – gone. Leafy suburbs – gone.  Backyards – gone. Schools with room for kids to run about – gone. It seems the only thing the panel has recommended we keep is congestion.

“Well I’m not afraid to say that I disagree. The unitary plan is supposed to deliver a better outcome for Auckland. Where is the evidence it does this? There is none.

“I commend the panel’s implicit acknowledgement that the council has constrained development so badly that we are confronted with both a housing crisis & financial disaster. I am also aware that this is the reason that they have allowed development anywhere & everywhere.

“But our elected representatives must not roll over and allow the worst possible outcome for Auckland. The people of Auckland must not allow their elected representatives to make this decision either.

“We absolutely have options, and to say otherwise is patently untrue. Auckland does not need this unitary plan. Auckland councilors must reject the panel’s urban intensification recommendations because alternate plans will deliver more housing faster & cheaper, and will relieve congestion and cost the council less.

“Urban infill is the most expensive & slowest means of delivering housing. It’s why supply is slow, it’s why rates are going up and it’s why congestion is worsening.

“Removing urban limits is the key to increasing housing supply, quickly & affordably. It allows developers to access large land holdings and achieve economies of scale.

“Zoning land for business provides jobs in new areas, taking pressure off congestion.

“Rolling out infrastructure through paddocks is one-10th the price of rolling out the same infrastructure in suburban areas. Plus, because housing & infrastructure can be integrated, costs are covered by development levies.

“The unitary plan before the council is the wrong plan for Auckland. Councillors must break the urban limits to allow fast, affordable housing and reject intensification.

“When I’m mayor, I’ll lead development with new cities in our north & south, combining jobs & homes, while protecting Auckland’s traditional suburban form. I don’t see this unitary plan delivering that.”

Attribution: Organisations’ releases.

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