Auckland Council is getting the jitters about Government plans for special powers to take private land and public parks for large-scale housing developments.
The Urban Development Bill introduced to Parliament in December proposes removing restrictions for high-density housing projects by Kāinga Ora, the agency which replaced Housing NZ.
The powers for specified developments includes the ability to compulsorily acquire land, a shortened consent process, setting targeted rates and development contributions.
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Auckland councillors will tomorrow consider a draft submission on the bill after earlier giving in-principle support for an urban development agency.
A political working group on the bill still supports the concept but raised a number of areas of concern. The group comprised councillors, including planning committee chairman Chris Darby, Local Board members and Tau Henare of the Māori Statutory Board.
The group said decision-making is "far-reaching and removed from communities" and takes no real account of the Auckland Unitary Plan - the city's planning blueprint that took years and much angst to complete.
Consultation on big projects by Kāinga Ora is very tight and does not provide sufficient ability for input from communities and developers, says analysis on the bill in a report for council's planning committee.
The group was also concerned about the ability in the bill for Kāinga Ora to take some parkland - conservation and scenic reserves are excluded - for development with no requirement to replace it.
Kāinga Ora can also compulsorily acquire land and does not have to offer it back through the Public Works Act.
The council, Auckland Transport and Watercare also have a number of concerns about infrastructure, including no requirements in the bill to meet codes of practice, the impact on wider networks and being lumped with ongoing running costs.
Another concern is that final decisions on a "specified development project area" will be left to two ministers without the context or knowledge of the area and "do not seem to be required to consider any evidence in making their determination".
Darby said council generally supported the direction of the bill and offering constructive feedback to ensure it meets the needs of not just Auckland, but New Zealand.
Among the concerns council was flagging, he said, is the need to listen to communities to build sustainable communities.
"The way to achieve that can't be a top down instrument from Government," Darby said.
He was also concerned that Kāinga Ora is head-hunting council staff with reports of bigger salaries, saying to gut council resources will undermine its capability to deliver housing in other areas.
The council's financial strategy team supports Kāinga Ora funding new infrastructure through targeted rates and development contributions collected by council, saying it provides new investment without jeopardising council's financial stability.