Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Groups mobilise to stop developers going higher

Developers are pushing for higher and denser housing.
Developers are pushing for higher and denser housing.

Fears that developers are gaining the upper hand for higher density housing in suburban Auckland are causing a community-group backlash.

A public meeting has been called today in Takapuna to fight alleged increases in the height limits for buildings on Lake Rd. This followed a meeting on Monday of several community groups opposed to a seven-storey apartment building in a four-storey zone on Great North Rd in Grey Lynn.

Richard Burton, who established Auckland 2040 last year in response to high-density plans in the council's draft Unitary Plan, says Aucklanders need to wake up to what is happening.

After researching submissions from developers to the proposed Unitary Plan, Mr Burton said it was scary what they are asking for.

"Developers are seeking the total relaxation of residential controls, allowing far higher, more intensive development than was even contemplated under the first draft of the Unitary Plan," he said.

In its submission, the Property Council said the council needs to increase intensification in every neighbourhood by at least 250 per cent to 400 per cent to build enough houses for another one million residents.

"Auckland could end up around 130,000 dwellings short of the targeted 280,000 dwellings which the Auckland Plan envisaged being developed inside the rural urban boundary," the Property Council submission said.

Housing New Zealand and youth lobby group Generation Zero are others pushing for greater intensification than what councillors settled for last September in response to a public backlash. Generation Zero wants Auckland to achieve a low carbon urban form that is attractive to young people with dense neighbourhoods close to the city providing a variety of activities and attractions.

Mr Burton believes the hearings stage of the Unitary Plan is starting with a stacked deck. "Joe Bloggs public doesn't have a clue and absolutely no idea what is going on," he said.

Today's meeting in Takapuna is in response to what Mr Burton claims were unilateral moves by council planners to increase the height along Lake Rd from four storeys to six- to seven-storeys. The Grey Lynn Business Association called a meeting on Monday attended by four community groups who want the council to stick to the rules for the planned apartment building on Great North Rd.

The developer, Greer Stephens, said council officers indicated they would look favourably on a seven-storey apartment building in the four-storey zone. Yesterday, the council said it could find no record of an officer saying that.


Intensification fight

• Developers pushing for higher and denser housing.
• Unitary Plan pitting developers against community groups.
• Seven-storey apartment block planned for four-storey zone in Grey Lynn.
• Stick to the rules, groups tell council.

- NZ Herald

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