Auckland Mayor Len Brown has gone down "fighting like a shark" to keep provisions for affordable housing in the new blueprint for Auckland.
In an emotional plea yesterday, Brown urged colleagues to reinstate an originally proposed requirement for 10 per cent of homes in developments of more than 15 new dwellings to be affordable.
"Aucklanders are looking at us to make one or two clear directions here in the limited way we can," the mayor said.
But like many provisions in the blueprint, or Unitary Plan, councillors were divided on the issue. Brown's deputy, Penny Hulse, choked on her words at one point.
"To have to vote on something I fundamentally believe in ... that can be construed as not supporting affordability in this city is the hardest thing that I will need to do. On the other hand, I do not believe in populist politics ... and I don't believe in making promises to people we can't deliver on."
Hulse voted with 12 other councillors to delete the provision for affordable housing. Brown and six councillors supported affordable measures.
The impact of affordable provisions was, at best, token and has not stood the test of scrutiny, said councillor Cameron Brewer.
John Watson said in his ward of Albany, townhouses were selling from $900,000 and apartments from $550,000 to $600,000.
"One of the main selling points of the Unitary Plan is affordability. Generation Zero are saying greater intensification and choice of housing types will deliver affordability. Making 10 per cent of homes in developments of 15 or more to be affordable might be it when it comes to affordability," Watson said.
Councillor Arthur Anae was even less optimistic about affordability, saying Auckland was becoming like New York, where people rent because they cannot afford to buy.
An independent hearings panel recommended the plan should "provide for affordable housing choice with a mix of dwelling types, adaptation of existing housing stock and doubling of enabled supply".
On the second day of a governing body meeting to make final decisions on the plan, councillors rejected a recommendation for no minimum dwelling size, or a return to the days of "shoe box" apartments.
The plan will have a minimum size of 35sq m for a studio apartment in the central city and business zones, or 30sq m plus a 5sq m balcony.
Councillors also decided to relax the rule around the rural urban boundary (RUB), allowing developers to apply to move the boundary through a private plan change.
At present, only the council or Minister for the Environment can move the boundary.
Regulatory services director Penny Pirrit said the objectives, policies and methods in the plan would enable a thorough assessment of private plan changes.
Main points from yesterday
• No provision for affordable housing in the Unitary Plan.
• Councillors reject "shoe box" apartments and impose minimum sizes.
• Developers can apply to move the rural urban boundary.
• Resource consent needed to remove mangroves. Seedlings can be removed without a consent.