Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Unitary Plan: Changes shock in wealthy suburbs

Robert Johnston says the zoning proposal will not contribute to affordability and will benefit mostly property developers. Picture / Dean Purcell
Robert Johnston says the zoning proposal will not contribute to affordability and will benefit mostly property developers. Picture / Dean Purcell

Residents in the wealthy suburbs along Tamaki Drive are gobsmacked at plans to rezone their traditional single-house properties for more intensive housing.

The latest maps for the new city rulebook show big zoning changes in suburbs such as Orakei and Glendowie, less than six months after a similar proposal was dumped by councillors following a public uproar.

The mansions in Paritai Dr, which sell for millions of dollars, have lost their single-house status and can be replaced with as many two-storey townhouses as developers can squeeze on to large sections.

It's a similar story along the northern slopes of St Heliers Bay Rd - provision for two- and three-storey apartments and townhouses where large and expensive houses fit comfortably in manicured gardens.

The hearings panel making final recommendations on the Unitary Plan has recommended a 22 per cent reduction in the single-house zone and a 42.6 per cent cut in the central isthmus, including the Orakei ward.

Orakei Local Board chairwoman Desley Simpson said people were feeling a bit shell-shocked and gobsmacked at the latest proposals.

"The wholesale removal of the single-house zone from our ward, especially for the likes of Glendowie where residents never had a chance to have a say, feels very undemocratic," said Simpson.

It showed the lack of democracy in the Unitary Plan process that put forward a proposed plan for feedback and residents were so removed from the final version, she said.

St Heliers-Glendowie Residents Association member Robert Johnston said the latest proposal would increase housing density but not contribute to affordability one iota because any development was going to be upmarket and expensive.

"The major beneficiaries will be property developers," he said.

Johnston said there was no provision for providing more schools and upgrading sewerage, roads, parks and public transport.

Instead of intensifying a comfortable, low-rise suburb such as Glendowie with no town centre or regular public transport to speak of, it made more sense to intensify Glen Innes, Panmure and Ellerslie where there is a rail corridor, Johnston said.

"The whole thing has been absolutely devoid of any democratic process," he said.

- NZ Herald

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