Cameron Brewer: Broken zoning promises will hurt at polls

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Auckland eastern suburbs have been hit hard by the rezoning. Photo / Chris Skelton
Auckland eastern suburbs have been hit hard by the rezoning. Photo / Chris Skelton

The Auckland Council has released its revisions to the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan. The eastern suburbs have been hit hard by the rezoning, which is upsetting many locals following huge public meetings and outrage early in 2013 when they thought they'd been listened to.

Back then the mayor and councillors agreed to water down the intensification plans after significant public outcry. I worked closely with the Orakei Local Board and community groups to secure some provisions which would protect the special character of our surrounding neighbourhoods.

Now much of that watering down has been strengthened up again in secret and without any public mandate. Glendowie in particular has been hit hard by intensification measures. Roughly 70 per cent of the suburb has been rezoned from "single house" to "mixed housing suburban" and up to 15 per cent is now classed as "mixed housing urban" where before there was zero.

This proposed intensification comes at the same time residents are worried that Auckland Transport is set to take away bus services for the eastern suburbs.

While the push to stop high-rise apartments being built along Kohimarama beachfront may have been successful, up to 50 per cent of Kohimarama has undergone some form of intensification with large swathes of mixed housing suburban being upzoned as urban which strips these areas of any meaningful density controls.

Large areas to the south of and surrounding Remuera's village have been upzoned to allow for more terraced housing and apartment buildings while, alarmingly, almost a quarter of the single house zones on Remuera's northern side have been reclassified as mixed housing suburban.

St Heliers has also seen several areas intensified with housing around Glover Park being rezoned as mixed housing suburban and terraced housing and apartment buildings continuing down St Heliers Bay Rd to St Heliers School and Riddell Rd.

The suburb of Orakei has also been upzoned considerably.

It's not just height, it's density. In the widespread mixed housing suburban zones all a developer now needs to secure is a quarter of an acre. By combining the likes of two neighbouring sections and securing 1000sq m he can then put in a low-rise apartment complex with no density restrictions whatsoever right next to you in your quiet leafy suburb.

That's a serious backtrack to what the public was promised in 2013.

I was pleased to sign Councillor Dick Quax's notice of motion recently to push the issues back to the public to allow for people's views on these changes to be heard. Sadly Mayor Len Brown threw out that notice of motion at the last council meeting of 2015. For the nine councillors who supported the failed notice of motion these changes are dramatic and completely undemocratic.

At least the public can now see exactly what's going on and can really lean on the councillors ahead of us passing the final Unitary Plan this year " unfortunately that is the best and next chance to secure any significant change.

Just as it was in 2013, this will be a huge local body election issue in 2016, and there'll be many political casualties if Auckland's concerned voices are not heard.

Cameron Brewer is an Auckland Councillor for Orakei.

- NZ Herald

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