Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Len Brown defers housing intensification debate, calls for community input

Len Brown has postponed the housing intensification debate after recognising the need to take the views of the community on board. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Len Brown has postponed the housing intensification debate after recognising the need to take the views of the community on board. Photo / Sarah Ivey

Auckland Mayor Len Brown is deferring the controversial issue of rezoning thousands of homes for intensification until next Wednesday.

The issue was down to be debated at today's governing meeting, but after a delegation of five councillors met with Mr Brown last night the mayor decided to delay the issue.

Mr Brown said he recognised the need to reflect the views of the community and the need to be a "little bit flexible in this space".

"This is the most significant plan change this city has every seen, or likely to see," Mr Brown said.

Councillors are receiving a briefing on the Unitary Plan this afternoon, which will help inform what happens at next Wednesday's extraordinary governing body meeting.

Next week's meeting will allow for public input from groups such as Auckland 2040, which has accused the council of abandoning the consultative process in the Unitary Plan.

Writing in the Herald today, Auckland 2040 spokesman Richard Burton said the council was acting in an anti-democratic way by depriving residents of their right to have a say.

Richard Burton has accused the council of acting in an anti-democratic way by depriving residents of their right to have a say. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Richard Burton has accused the council of acting in an anti-democratic way by depriving residents of their right to have a say. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The "out of scope" changes meant no one asked for them and there is no opportunity under the Unitary Plan process for affected property owners to have a formal right of reply, he said.

Mr Burton said the changes sought by the council were radical and affected large areas in Glendowie, Kohimarama, St Heliers, Orakei, Westmere, Blockhouse Bay, Panmure and Takapuna.

The proposed changes have been included in a submission to the independent hearings panel considering the Unitary Plan.

The panel will make recommendations in July or August for the council to make final decisions on the plan, or new planning rule book for the city.

Councillor Chris Fletcher, one of 11 councillors on the 21-member council who want to rescind the changes, said there was a need for independent legal advice on whether the proposed changes could be withdrawn.

Also writing in the Herald today, Alex Johnston, deputy chairman of the council's youth advisory panel, said the outrage from a vocal group of homeowners was baffling.

He said there was nothing to suggest the horror of high-rise apartment blocks.

Only 6 per cent of Auckland outside the CBD was zoned for apartments of four or more storeys.

"The changes simply allow the demand for land in limited central areas to be reflected in the type of houses that could be built there," Mr Johnston said.

The 19-year-old law student said: "Let's embrace the changes proposed in the Unitary Plan for my generation and those to come to be able to enjoy the Auckland that we all know and love."

- NZ Herald

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