Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

'Generation Rent': Property Council fires up at Auckland councillors

Photo / Michael Craig
Photo / Michael Craig

The Property Council has hit out at Auckland councillors who want to overturn plans to rezone thousands of properties for more intensive housing and apartments.

Auckland Branch President Phil Eaton said soaring house prices are creating systemic social injustice, inequity and major economic risk.

"Let's be absolutely clear about this. The councillors who have withdrawn their support to rezone and upzone suburbs to allow for more houses have done so at the expense of Aucklanders, because they want to come back after the local elections.

"Now, Baby Boomers have essentially locked an entire generation out of their own homes. Young people and families will never be able to work and live in Auckland, and 'Generation Rent' is the legacy these councillors will leave behind," he said.

A majority of councillors want to withdraw "out of scope" changes to zoning, meaning no residents asked for them in the Unitary Plan and there is no formal right of reply for affected property owners.

The changes were made behind closed doors with no public consultation and included in the council's latest submission to the independent hearings panel considering the Unitary Plan.

The panel is expected to make recommendations to the council in July/August for final decisions on the Unitary Plan, a new planning rulebook for the city.

The Property Council said the Auckland Plan sets out a 400,000 housing target over the next 30 years. Currently, there is a shortage of between 20,000-30,000 houses, and 13,000 new dwellings every year over this period.

The current version of the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (PAUP) only allows for about 95,000 of the required 400,000.

"We have always supported the Auckland Plan, which brought the vision," Mr Eaton said.

"But a lack of leadership is rendering this plan redundant as from the beginning, we raised concerns that the proposed Unitary Plan did not support its targets and now councillors are not either."

Recent detailed analysis by independent experts demonstrated the PAUP falling short of providing adequate supply of new dwellings and likely to only yield less than 30 per cent. This is a stark shortfall that will leave us with continued house-price escalation.

"We desperately need to open up supply. The market tells us we are not building what customers want. We need a wider range of housing choices to suit the changing demographic profile of Auckland over the next 15-20 years, including smaller homes in existing areas for both older and younger people."

Local politicians must ditch their 'not in my election year' mentality and do what is right by all Aucklanders, not just some."

He said scaremongering by local politicians had residents believing their suburbs will be covered in high-rise apartments, when realistically less than 6 per cent of suburbs will have apartments with more than three storeys: up just 1 per cent from the previous version of the PAUP.

Meanwhile, Richard Burton, spokesman for the Auckland 2040 community group, has responded to a "fact sheet" issued by Unitary Plan committee chairman Alf Filipaina on the out-of-scope changes.

He said the issue is about the process of how council has introduced the zoning changes, not the merits of any specific zoning proposal."

My concern, and that of many thousands of Aucklanders, is that council, by introducing wholesale out-of-scope zoning changes, has deprived affected property owners of the right of submission and hearing on the changes.

This is undemocratic, contrary to natural justice and an abuse of process, particularly when one has regard to the many opportunities for public participation in the PAUP process to date," Mr Burton said.

He said expert evidence from Dr Doug Fairgrey to the panel concluded there was ample capacity for new houses under the proposed Unitary Plan.

- NZ Herald

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