Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

City leader unnerved by PM's 'chilling' idea

'I think the Government is taking a very simplistic look at this', Ms Hulse said. Photo / Richard Robinson
'I think the Government is taking a very simplistic look at this', Ms Hulse said. Photo / Richard Robinson

Prime Minister John Key's talk of national standards for resource consents will not help communities or preserve heritage, says Auckland Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse.

She said the "slightly chilling undertone" from Mr Key's state of the nation speech on Friday was that if he did not like what councils were coming up with in their planning rules then the Government would impose standard rules.

"If there is a one-size-fits-all across the country," Ms Hulse said, "where does that leave things like the Grey Lynn plan that will require developers to give effect to that plan?

"Where does that leave a greater focus and protection of heritage.

"We are going to put hoops in front of developers for dealing with heritage and character buildings."

Ms Hulse said the Auckland Council agreed with the Government on the need to speed up the consent process and reduce costs so more houses could be built and housing made more affordable.

But the answer was for the Super City and Government to work together through the unitary plan process - an amalgamation of former district plans - to speed up processes by cutting red tape and simplifying processes.

"I think the Government is taking a very simplistic look at this," Ms Hulse said.

"They don't understand the fine-grained details and they certainly don't understand the passion which communities have for overseeing and being involved in the way their communities develop.

"They are simply seeing things from a developer's perspective," the deputy mayor said.

A spokeswoman for Mr Key said the Government's first preference was definitely to work with local authorities to find answers to some of these problems.

"However, there needs to be an appreciation that due to our small size, local decisions have significant effects on our national environment and economy, and as a result sometimes central government is going to need to ensure certain issues are being adequately addressed.

"The Government is looking to introduce greater flexibility into consenting processes and more consistent interpretation of the legislation by councils throughout the country," the spokeswoman said.

Communities such as Parnell, where Mr Key lives, and Grey Lynn have presented their own plans to the council as part of the unitary plan process.

Grey Lynn does not want to be a "McBrand" but to develop in a sustainable way in keeping with its alternative values and gritty edge.

The Parnell structure plan wants to focus on the community by returning roads to pedestrians and cyclists.

Several roads have been nominated to be used for housing and community uses.

The Auckland Council asked the Government to give the unitary plan legal affect when it is notified in September or October, but was turned down by Environment Minister Amy Adams. It will not have legal effect until 2016.

- NZ Herald

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