The Auckland Council is going back to the drawing board after a majority of councillors scuttled housing density proposals in the city's leafy suburbs on Wednesday.

The vote has exposed deep divisions within council and created uncertainty for the Unitary Plan, the planning rulebook to shape the future of the city.

The only official comment from council yesterday was "Auckland Council is currently examining the implications of yesterday's resolutions and an update will be provided to councillors and the public in the coming days".

Other players in the issue had more to say.


Bill English

Speaking to the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, the Finance Minister said the Government was addressing housing along the same lines of reforming electricity, telecommunications and financial markets.

English said there was no "quick fix" to Auckland's housing shortage but that the Government could spend money, if the need arose, to deal with the city's population growth.

"Lack of land supply, and hence higher prices, occur when the planning system isn't working properly," he said. "We want a planning system that recognises the consequences for all current and future residents, and for the country."

Penny Hulse

The deputy mayor took to Facebook to give her take on events.

"Some good people were captured by the wrong lobbying. The loud voices of some suburbs who had been wound up to believe they had been "hugely up zoned" won the day and young people, community housing providers, urban designers, social workers, families, sustainability advocates and ordinary Aucklanders were drowned out of the debate. I think it is a really bad decision made for political populist reasons (in an election year) and makes no sense for Auckland and also is dubious process promoted by councillors who have failed the leadership test.

Nick Smith

The Housing Minister told RNZ he was not completely surprised at the vote, saying Auckland had a history of strong objections against intensification from some and greenfields development from others.

He said the council's position of withdrawing its proposed zoning changes becomes something of a nonsense because the numbers no longer stack up.

The Government, he said, did not mind whether growth came from greenfields or brownfields, so long as the numbers stack up to take the heat out of house prices.

Independent Hearings Panel

The panel, which is considering submissions on the Unitary Plan and will make recommendations in July to the council for final decisions, said it has not received any formal advice from the council as yet. Until this happens, the panel will continue with its current schedule. The council believes it would no longer have a role in the hearings process on residential zoning. Richard Burton, of Auckland 2040, said that was incorrect and the council would continue playing a role.

Cameron Brewer

The outgoing Orakei councillor said the issue highlighted the politicisation of the organisation, saying he was out of favour and therefore not told about the changes affecting his ward.

"I can't get any information out of the organisation these days. I get blocked and flannelled every step of the way. It's a bit like George Orwell's 1984, where it's all about total control. But as we've just seen its now backfiring badly.

"The Brown/Hulse political leadership is in complete tatters. They'll blame us but they only have themselves to blame. Their political management is a complete failure. They cant even get the numbers and that meeting convinced no one," Brewer said.

Stephen Selwood

The New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development boss said the upside from the decision was an opportunity to rethink how Auckland accommodates the next million residents.

"The combination of poor projected transport outcomes and public disquiet over new development proposals necessitates a major rethink of how growth is distributed across the city and supported by transport and other infrastructure.

"Going higher in targeted locations, particularly around rail, provides the opportunity for urban regeneration in a way that is commercially viable and avoids the spread of medium density development across the city, which is the current focus of concern."

The Unitary Plan row

?The Unitary Plan is a new planning rulebook for the Super City
?It seeks to provide new housing to meet the city's rapid growth
?Extensive public consultation has occurred
?Council proposed last-minute high density changes without consultation