Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Landscape of Super City shaping up

Council officials put finishing touches to draft Unitary Plan to accommodate expanding region

Penny Hulse has termed the plan, "a little up and a little out". Photo / Richard Robinson
Penny Hulse has termed the plan, "a little up and a little out". Photo / Richard Robinson

A new planning rulebook for the Super City has wrapped up after traversing a bumpy ride from leafy suburbia to the fertile paddocks around Pukekohe.

After five days of meetings, Auckland councillors and local board chairs yesterday put the finishing touches to the rulebook, or Unitary Plan, that will shape the city landscape for the next 30 years.

The Unitary Plan sets out to balance the traditional suburban lifestyle with intensification, a growing population, changing housing patterns and a desire to preserve rural and coastal environments.

Most controversially, it has asked Aucklanders to adapt to a new way of life that includes having more high-rise and small-size apartments to cope with squeezing a further one million residents into the city.

While the first four days focused on scaling back intensification plans in residential suburbs, it was the turn yesterday of rural politicians to have their say and nail down the areas to build 160,000 new homes outside the existing urban boundary.

In what Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse has termed "a little up and a little out", the council has set out to build 280,000 new homes in urban Auckland and 160,000 in four main rural areas in and around Warkworth, Silverdale/Dairy Flat, Kumeu/Huapai/Red Hills/Brigham Creek, and Pukekohe.

Yesterday, Franklin Local Board chairman Andy Baker said farm paddocks were not there to sprout houses.

He and Rodney Local Board chairman Bob Howard criticised their city colleagues for watering down densities in urban areas at the expense of rural land.

Said Mr Howard: "What doesn't happen in the towns will happen in the country."

Council officers said 260ha of land in the southern "rural urban boundary" (RUB) was on class one land, or elite soils; and 4000ha was class two land, or prime land. The combined 4260ha of elite and prime land covered 90 per cent of the southern RUB.

Waitakere councillor Sandra Coney said Auckland was shooting itself in the foot by gobbling up elite and prime soils where a great deal of the city's food was grown for housing.

The Unitary Plan will be ratified by the council next Tuesday before being notified for a formal process at the end of the month. There will be 90 days for submissions before a Government-appointed panel of commissioners begin a three-year hearings process and make decisions.

What happens next

Yesterday: Auckland Plan committee wraps up changes to draft Unitary Plan.

September 10: Council confirms plan.

End of September: Plan formally notified.

October onwards: 90 days for submissions.

2014-2016: Government-appointed commissioners consider plan.

2016: Possible date for plan to become law and operative.

- NZ Herald

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