The Government clearly wants to wipe out Auckland's historic suburbs, with two ministers recently declaring the city's special character areas must be intensified.
Housing Minister Megan Woods and Environment Minister David Parker have warned Auckland Council against even trying to protect our oldest areas from the medium-density housing that the Government is foisting on Auckland.
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This is despite there being discretion in the legislation for the council to do just that.
Auckland Council opposed the Government's legislation that will allow three-storey developments, with the barest of design requirements, to be built within a metre of boundaries on every site in our main cities, without resource consent.
The Government reluctantly allowed councils to exempt some areas due to infrastructure constraints or special character but now the ministers oppose the Auckland Council using this exemption.
The Government, with National's support, rushed this poorly considered legislation through Parliament and now opposes Auckland Council following its own democratic process.
The council had dared to ask Aucklanders for their feedback on the issue and a strong majority were in favour of retaining special character areas. This has obviously unsettled the ministers who clearly don't give a toss about what residents actually want for their city.
They are intent on forcing through their vision despite the dire implications for our country's main cities.
This is all in the name of solving the housing crisis but ignores the reality that Auckland is already building a record number of homes every year and consents for new apartments are skyrocketing. Aucklanders only have to look around them to see intensification is happening at speed.
The council's Unitary Plan contains years of growth capacity with zoning that allows for over 900,000 more homes. But the ministers' doctrinaire approach has led them to ignore this fact and has blinded them to the real issues that are slowing down building much-needed homes – the shortage of building supplies and labour.
Instead, the ministers are falling back on the politics of envy by suggesting that wealthy people in older suburbs are responsible for preventing young people from buying houses.
They stubbornly overlook that land values in wealthy historic suburbs are so high that any new builds there will be top quality apartments for the rich and not provide anything remotely affordable. Some property owners in these areas will be rubbing their hands at the thought of the financial gains to be had by selling their houses for up-market apartments.
The reality of this legislation will be to scatter bad housing randomly across the city, wrecking the existing homes of many Aucklanders in the process. Young homeowners will find their backyard with its barbecue area and kids' sandpit shaded by 12m housing blocks.
The Government is so wedded to its plan it is prepared to override the democratic rights of council whose job it is to create the best living conditions for residents. Ministers are now warning Auckland Council to enact the legislation or look out. If council fails to follow orders, Environment Minister David Parker has the final say and can overrule local democratic decisions.
The Government's Three Waters reform is nothing compared to central government's unprecedented interference with a council's right to plan, enhance and create liveable cities.
Ministers are intent on appearing to be doing something about the housing problem without any regard for the consequences for our cities.
But it's the job of Auckland councillors to care, and to work to ensure Auckland is a great city. Most acknowledge it's the historic areas that give the city its character and identity.
Without our streets of native timbered villas, cottages and bungalows, Auckland would be a dull, soulless place, a bland copy of any other world city.
It is not enough as Minister Parker suggests, to keep just a few historic houses and allow the rest to be bowled.
Auckland Council knows this will lead to old homes being squeezed between apartment blocks and will destroy the connectivity of character areas that need to be protected on mass if they are to have any merit.
At a June 30 council meeting, councillors will vote on the planning changes that are needed to enact the government's legislation.
It will be up to them to decide whether they will stand up for their city's identity, history and liveability or cave in to the threats from central government.
• Margot McRae is chair of Devonport Heritage and a long-standing campaigner for heritage protection.