Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Rural towns key to city's big growth in housing

The Auckland Council is rewriting the metropolitan urban limit to include the extra 160,000 new homes. Photo / Brett Phibbs
The Auckland Council is rewriting the metropolitan urban limit to include the extra 160,000 new homes. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The towns of Pukekohe and Warkworth and communities served by the Northwestern Motorway, such as Kumeu and Brigham Creek, are among rural areas earmarked to contribute to Auckland's population.

While a new planning rulebook sets out more high-rise and small-size apartments in urban Auckland for another one million residents, there are plans to build 160,000 new homes outside the existing urban boundary.

About 90,000 of these homes will be on new land at Warkworth, Silverdale, Whenuapai, Kumeu and Huapai in the north/northwest and Pukekohe, Paerata, Drury and Karaka in the south.

The other 70,000 homes will be within the existing big towns of Warkworth and Pukekohe, and rural and coastal towns and villages such as Beachlands, Bombay, Snells Beach, Piha, Wellsford and Whitford. The 70,000 figure includes developments under way outside the urban limit at Hobsonville and Hingaia.

The 160,000 homes are all outside the existing "metropolitan urban limit" - an urban boundary set up in the late 1990s to contain urban sprawl.

The Auckland Council is rewriting the metropolitan urban limit to include the extra 160,000 new homes.

The new boundary is called the "rural urban boundary".

Yesterday, the council's chief planning officer, Dr Roger Blakeley, acknowledged that freeing up farmland and other rural land for housing was a sensitive issue.

"One of the lifestyle attractions of Auckland is you don't have to go far out to be in an attractive countryside and rural setting," he said.

Dr Blakeley said there had been a lot of work, first with the Auckland Plan - a 30-year blueprint for the Super City - and secondly, in early discussions on the new rulebook to implement the Auckland Plan, on areas of greatest opportunity for new housing in rural areas.

Aucklanders, he said, had the chance to express their views "forthrightly" on the new planning rulebook - or draft unitary plan - which replaces the existing 14 district and regional plans.

Andrew Baker, chairman of the Franklin Local Board, said there was a lot of enthusiasm for some growth based around Pukekohe, within the township and north and northeast on "pretty much rubbish land".

Farmers were keen to preserve the fertile horticultural land, east of the township, he said.

Bob Howard, chairman of the Rodney Local Board, said when you had a motorway on your doorstep - State Highway 1 and the Northwestern Motorway run through Rodney - there would always be growth. He said there were 1250 sections consented in Riverhead South and Huapai North close to the Northwestern Motorway and once State Highway 1 was extended past Puhoi growth would occur at Warkworth.

Mr Howard said there were vocal groups opposed to what was planned in Rodney, but believed the silent majority supported growth.

Freeing up more rural land for housing is creating tension between the council and Wellington, with Housing Minister Nick Smith and Environment Minister Amy Adams vowing to break the "stranglehold" of the urban boundary and talk of a Crown agency to free up more land.

Mayor Len Brown has hit back, saying the talk would drive Auckland down the flawed Los Angeles model of urban sprawl.

Bulging population

280,000 new dwellings in urban Auckland
160,000 new dwellings in rural Auckland

- NZ Herald

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