Matthew Backhouse

Matthew Backhouse is an APNZ news reporter based in Wellington.

Next step for Unitary plan could be 'after elections'

Mayor Len Brown. Photo / APN
Mayor Len Brown. Photo / APN

Notification of changes to Auckland's controversial unitary plan could be put off until October, after the council's elections, Mayor Len Brown says.

Changes to Auckland Council's proposed unitary plan were expected to be notified in September - three months after public submissions on the draft plan closed on Friday.

But on TVNZ's Q+A programme this morning, Mr Brown said the council would decide in the next few months whether the draft plan was ready for notification and it was possible it could be put off until after the Auckland Council election on October 12.

Asked if that would be better for his re-election chances, Mr Brown said: "Look, to tell you the truth, I'm not contemplating that. I'm looking at what's best for Auckland."

Mr Brown said his primary focus was on ensuring the unitary plan was in place.

"I genuinely want to ensure that this plan is in place and in a good space with our community, and we've got as many of our community on board as possible in terms of how we go forward, and that is my primary focus."

Mr Brown acknowledged the draft plan had provoked "a high level of emotion" but most of the feedback at public meetings had been thoughtful and constructive.

"We think there's an overall consensus around the way to go forward, but we will need to make some changes around some of the aspects of the plan thus far."

The changes were likely to include lower building height restrictions for coastal properties.

"We will be looking to some moderation, but not to compromise the overarching desire for us to build a little up and a little out."

Mr Brown said the council's relationship with the Government - which has been pushing for more land to be freed up for housing - had become much more constructive in the last two months.

The proposed Auckland housing accord was about central and local government working together to deal with the issue of affordable housing and housing availability, he said.

But Mr Brown disagreed with legislation allowing the Government to step in and issue building consents if it did not think councils were acting fast enough.

"I do not think that's a good move. I think that it's important for central and local government, under the accords that we now have, to actually collaborate, and I think that's the way for us to go forward."

- APNZ

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