Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Brown all alone in action on plan

Mayoral candidate Palino says blueprint should not be publicly notified until infrastructure and other studies done.

Candidate John Palino says the plan will make Auckland look like Los Angeles. Photo / Richard Robinson
Candidate John Palino says the plan will make Auckland look like Los Angeles. Photo / Richard Robinson

Len Brown was the only candidate last night to support putting the Unitary Plan out for formal notification to cries of "no, no, no" at a mayoral debate in the city's eastern suburbs.

"I think we have ended up at a reasonable balanced position," Mr Brown told more than 100 people at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club on Tamaki Drive.

The mayor said he was going to support the plan being notified this month at an extraordinary meeting of the council today following more than 200 meetings on a draft of the plan, more than 22,000 submissions and the last two weeks finalising the planning rulebook for the city.

Mr Brown's main opponent, John Palino, drew loud applause when he said the plan should not go through before infrastructure and other studies were done on the plan, which asks Aucklanders to adapt to a new, more intensified way of life.

"Nowhere in the world do they knock down large areas of homes to intensify," the American-born businessman said.

"The Unitary Plan will make us look exactly like Los Angeles."

Emmett Hussey, a little-known contender, called the plan "stark raving mad" by not providing for infrastructure, schools, hospitals and parks.

"This will become known as Len Brown's folly," he said.

The other candidates felt likewise at the debate, hosted by the Mission Bay-Kohimarama Residents Association.

The debate was held in the Orakei ward, which has the highest rates per capita in Auckland.

This year, residential rates rose in Orakei by an average of 5.7 per cent and nearly half of households paid the maximum capped increase of 10 per cent. The average household rates bill is $3456, compared to the regional average of $2241.

Mayor Brown was quizzed about a decision last year to set the fixed annual charge at $350 when officers had recommended a higher figure of $450.

He acknowledged the $350 charge was not the answer for Orakei, saying it was set at the fairest point for the wider community, but he would not rule out raising it at some point in the future.

A low annual charge penalises high-value properties and a high charge penalises low-value properties.

Mr Palino said he would raise the annual charge to the officers' recommended level of $450 and hold rates at the level of inflation of 0.9 per cent, not the 2.9 per cent overall increase set by Mr Brown.

Stephen Berry, leader of the right-wing Affordable Auckland ticket, promised to "reduce rates", eliminate borrowing within three years and scrap spending on projects like a new theatre on the waterfront and a white water rafting facility at Manukau.

Candidates' opposition to new rulebook

Should the Unitary Plan be notified in September?
John Minto: No. The Unitary Plan is a blueprint for developers rather than community development.
Uesifili Unasa: No. One of the problems with the Unitary Plan has to do with the more disadvantaged groups in the community.
Stephen Berry: No. I support a plan where planning is as flexible as possible.
Penny Bright: No. It is not commonsense planning. What we need is a population, migration and growth strategy.
Emmett Hussey: No. If I had my way I would just flush it down the toilet.
John Palino: No. We don't want to change our character, our lifestyle and be told how we have to build a house and be left only with the colour we can paint the toilet.

- NZ Herald

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