8 March 2013
Rt. Hon. John Key
Dear Prime Minister
I am writing to formally request that your government reconsider its decision not to facilitate the Auckland Unitary Plan (UP) taking effect, with greater weight, from notification.
You will recall that in November 2011 Auckland Council requested that the Government consider a package of measures designed to expedite the implementation of the new UP. This package included the Plan taking effect from notification.
In the Government's response to our request of 12 September 2012 (and again on 11 December), the Government announced a number of constructive and helpful initiatives to assist in speeding up the planning process. Unfortunately, the Government declined to align the UP taking effect on notification through the Resource Management Reform Bill 2012.
I listened with interest this morning to the comments of your new Minister of Housing, Hon Dr Nick Smith, in relation to land availability and the affordability of housing. Dr Smith expressed the view that it was the previously established Metropolitan Urban Limit (MUL) that was driving unaffordability. He noted further that while the Rural Urban Boundary (RUB) proposed in the Auckland Plan would act to alleviate this constraint, the Government was not prepared to wait for the time it would take for the UP to come into effect.
The position of the Minister is broadly similar to the view we have been expressing to the Government in relation to this issue. Adjusting the date on which the UP takes effect to the date of notification, rather than waiting for the plan to become operative in another three years will shorten the time it takes the UP to address the issue of housing supply and affordability .
I believe it is very positive that we now seem to have alignment with the Government over the importance of replacing the MUL with our proposed RUB. It is on this basis that I am writing to formally request that Cabinet reconsider its earlier decision in relation to the date from which the UP will have effect - and thereby deliver on the aspirations of Aucklanders and the Government.
In relation to this request, it is important to note that we do not believe that an approach through which elements of the UP are effectively 'cherry picked' for early implementation will be effective. A great deal of effort has gone into developing an integrated, internally consistent plan and for it to be truly effective it will need to be implemented on this basis.
As an Auckland MP you will understand the importance of this issue to Aucklanders, and I look forward to your response.
Mayor of Auckland