Whangārei residents are being warned about the future of their city in the wake of huge potential housing changes announced by the Government.
Puriri Park Rd development opponent Trevor Reader said the look and feel of the city would potentially be forever lost as the Government moves to bring in the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Bill. The changes focus on housing intensification aimed improving housing supply.
"This might be what the Government wants, but the cost is going to be to Mr and Mrs Ratepayer across New Zealand," said Reader, who also chairs Maunu Residents Inc.
Maunu residents objected to the Puriri Park Rd Kāinga Ora development, which is now going ahead, as they said it would irrevocably change the look and feel of their suburb.
Reader said the proposed intensification changes were simply the much larger-scale national version of what his group had fought in its four-year battle to stop social housing going ahead in the Puriri Park Rd suburban green space.
He said house section sizes in the Puriri Park Rd development were as small as 80 square metres, in contrast with the minimum house section size for the surrounding neighbourhood being 500 square metres.
Residents and ratepayers should let their local Whangārei District Council (WDC) councillors know their thoughts, which would help inform any submission the council might make on the Bill, Reader said.
Fourteen tier-one councils across five urban areas - Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch – would have until August next year to get intensification planning processes and proposed new national standards for medium-density residential areas in place.
WDC is among 10 smaller tier two councils across eight smaller urban areas – the others are Rotorua, New Plymouth, Napier/Hastings, Palmerston North. Nelson/Tasman, Queenstown and Dunedin - which are potentially also in the Government's line of sight for similar treatment.
The new potential legislation would mean a loss of certainty for Whangārei homeowners, said Reader.
"You might think you've bought yourself a nice new house in the city. Then your next-door neighbour's house sells. You're not going to know that a three-storey house is (potentially) going to be built next to you," Reader said.
There would be little that ratepayers could do to influence this.
The new legislation would remove the ability of ratepayers to appeal against decisions made about housing intensification.
"It would be a shift from regulated density in particular suburbs to wholesale high density across the district," Reader said.
WDC manager District Plan Robert Burgoyne said the proposed changes did not apply to Whangārei because it was a tier two urban area.
Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai said her council had already made changes which dealt with matters that the Government was looking to address regarding the tier one urban areas. The WDC changes had been done through a new chapter in Whangārei's District Plan facilitating urban intensification and a separate new district growth strategy.
Housing and development was already happening apace across the district already.
"There are subdivisions and construction going on at a frenzied pace," Mai said.