Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Councillors at odds on housing plan

Brewer and Coney lead opposition to fast-tracking high and low-rise apartments.

Mayor Len Brown led the majority view to move quickly on the plan. Photo / NZPA
Mayor Len Brown led the majority view to move quickly on the plan. Photo / NZPA

Concerns about "pop-up" intensification and neighbours having no say about apartments were raised at yesterday's first public council meeting on changes to Auckland's Unitary Plan.

An 11-7 vote by councillors to agree to "interim directions" drawn up at two closed workshops highlighted divisions in the council on the process since submissions closed in May.

Mayor Len Brown led the majority view to move quickly on the plan, which asks Aucklanders to adapt to a new way of life that includes high-rise and small-rise apartments to cope with squeezing another one million residents into the city.

A sizeable minority is calling for the council to slow the process, at least until they have full access to 22,700 public submissions, and to adopt staged intensification instead of "taking the lid off all at once".

Councillor Des Morrison said the council needed to get on and implement the city's new planning rulebook. Another supporter of moving on, Arthur Anae, said nothing had been finalised and the interim directions were flexible.

But councillor Cameron Brewer said approving the "direction setting" at the workshop was a euphemism for making a decision - although he got a motion passed for the interim directions to be "noted" and sent to local boards for feedback.

Mr Brewer was unhappy with the interim direction to split the mixed housing zone in two subzones - a 10m (3-storey) height limit close to town centres and major transport routes and an 8m (2-storey) height limit in the suburbs.

"Now there's a chance if you live close to a town centre ... your neighbours could apply to go up to 11m, 12m or 13m and in most cases 'silent on notification', which means non-notified," he said.

Sandra Coney said being asked to agree to the interim directions without seeing the submissions or an analysis of the themes was a travesty of democracy.

She said she had been a constant voice for staging intensification in the Unitary Plan to work with the private sector and developers and not have "pop-up" intensification of a bit here and a bit there.

The interim directions the council agreed to relate to building heights around centres and the terrace housing and apartment zone, the principles for volcanic viewshafts, design quality, splitting the mixed housing zone in two, minimum dwelling sizes - the minimum is 30sq m (plus a balcony) in the draft plan - and notification rules. Officers will work on these issues before a final decision.

Divided council

*Mayor Len Brown leads majority call to move quickly on Unitary Plan.
*Minority want to see submissions on plan first and staged intensification.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf01 at 20 Dec 2014 12:12:09 Processing Time: 1673ms