Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Stop the spin and listen, residents tell council

A presentation by Auckland 2040's Richard Burton showed three-storey apartments would appear in almost half of residential Auckland.  Photo / Brett Phibbs
A presentation by Auckland 2040's Richard Burton showed three-storey apartments would appear in almost half of residential Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs

A public meeting of about 500 people has told the Auckland Council to rethink its intensification plans for the city, start listening to communities and stop spinning.

The biggest display of opposition to the council's plans saw hundreds of people fill the Takapuna Grammar School hall yesterday calling for a rethink on a new planning rulebook for the city - or Unitary Plan.

They came out in response to a new "grassroots" organisation, Auckland 2040, which revealed that half of residential urban land could be built up with three-storey apartments and residents will have no say.

After nine weeks of telling Aucklanders the maximum height of "small-scale apartments" in neighbourhoods was two storeys, the council admitted to the Herald on Friday the height limit was three storeys.

"The Unitary Plan as proposed is the most fundamental change to Auckland's urban fabric you will ever see," Auckland 2040 co-leader and former planner Richard Burton said.

His co-leader, businessman Guy Haddleton, called for an informed review of the plan without the spin, citing a council flyer handed out at the meeting which stated apartments would not appear in every neighbourhood.

A presentation from Mr Burton said three-storey apartments would appear in 49 per cent of residential Auckland and four, five and six-storey apartments in a further 7 per cent.

"We accept there has to be intensification in Auckland.

"The real issue is how and where," he said.

The meeting unanimously passed a resolution to rethink the Unitary Plan in order to balance intensification with infrastructure capability and urban character.

Other resolutions called on the council to rethink the apartment zones in residential areas, give people a say on apartment developments, undertake local plans with communities, and conduct assessments of heritage buildings and areas before intensification occurs.

The Character Coalition - an umbrella group of 58 heritage and community groups - announced at the meeting it was joining forces with Auckland 2040.

Spokeswoman Sally Hughes said it shared the same concerns about the future of the city's neighbourhoods.

Last night, Auckland Mayor Len Brown refused to address the specific resolutions passed at the meeting, but in a statement said the city needed a balanced approach to development over the next 30 years and encouraged as many people as possible to have a say in the final two weeks of engagement on the draft unitary plan.

Submissions close on May 31.

Read more at shapeauckland.co.nz

No 'vested interests' in plan

Takapuna neighbours Richard Burton and Guy Haddleton are the figures behind the Auckland 2040 movement calling on the Auckland Council to rethink apartments haphazardly scattered throughout Auckland.

Mr Burton is a retired planner who worked for corporates and multi-national companies and Mr Haddleton is a successful IT businessman who sold his US-based software company for US$160 million in 2004.

Both men said they had no vested interests in the new council rulebook - or Unitary Plan - that asks Aucklanders to adapt to more intensification of the traditional suburban lifestyle.

Mr Burton said he went from having a bit of a look at how the draft Unitary Plan affected him to thinking it was going to have significant implications for the built form of Auckland. He said he had been retired for about eight years.

Auckland-born Mr Haddleton - a former SAS captain - returned to the city last year after spending 25 years overseas. He said he did not own property related to "this little project".

Mr Haddleton said "under the changes in the plan, Auckland will change fundamentally. It won't be the Auckland we recognise in 25 years' time ..."

- NZ Herald

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