Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Public meeting to discuss Auckland Council's rezoning plan

Big turnout to public gathering on proposed changes to increase density in suburbs.

Dramatic plans to rezone thousands of properties for more intensive housing face a rocky ride after a public meeting drew a crowd of 660 in Auckland last night.

The Herald understands as many as 10 of Auckland Council's 21 councillors and mayor want to overturn the latest zoning changes, and may put the issue to a fresh vote.

In December, the council announced large swathes of suburban Auckland could be rezoned for multi-storey buildings, terraced housing and apartments in revisions to the proposed Unitary Plan, a new planning rulebook for the city.

The latest changes were made and voted on behind closed doors, property owners were not consulted and have no formal right of reply.

Last night members of the Auckland 2040 community group accused the council of being "devious" and "hijacking the democratic process", which several residents and ratepayers groups said would change the character of their suburbs.

Council chief of strategy Jim Quinn said no final decisions have been made on zoning for the Unitary Plan.

"At this stage an independent hearings panel is reviewing the proposed plan and council and other submitters are having input to that. This is part of a two-year statutory process that has involved extensive public consultation, and there will be further deliberation by councillors ahead of decisions later this year."

Hundreds of mostly eastern suburbs residents gathered at the ASB Stadium in Kohimarama to hear what changes could be in store.

There was loud applause for a call to reverse the proposed changes. People pored over maps showing before and after changes.

Mike Walsh, of the St Heliers/Glendowie Residents Association, said the area faced "radical" 50 per cent to 100 per cent population change putting huge pressure on roads, water and schools.

"It is going to be a different type of place to live in," he said.

One speaker said the changes meant an rise in density of 58 per cent in Mission Bay. Westmere, Onehunga and the North Shore were also hard hit, the meeting heard.

"This whole thing sucks," said Guy Haddleton, a founding member of Auckland 2040, which has fought to balance the need for intensification with protecting the character of residential areas.

Five councillors were at the meeting - Cameron Brewer, Denise Krum, George Wood, Sharon Stewart and Dick Quax - all of whom are opposed to the latest zoning changes.

National's MP for Tamaki, Simon O'Connor, said the Government set the ballpark for the Unitary Plan process.

"But I'm not happy with the way council have acted and overstepped the mark with the lack of consultation," he said.

Auckland mayoral candidate and Orakei Local Board member Mark Thomas said the meeting was not just an eastern suburbs issue and it showed the Unitary Plan was failing.

- NZ Herald

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