National should urgently legislate to make the Unitary Plan operative while a court challenge make its way through the legal process, says Labour's Auckland Issues spokesman Phil Twyford.

He said a High Court appeal by the Character Coalition and Auckland 2040 against provisions for greater intensification could stall implementation of the plan for up to a year.

"Auckland urgently needs the Unitary Plan to be able to build the number of homes required to meet demand," Twyford said.

"National must urgently legislate to make the Unitary Plan operative now, rather than after the lengthy legal process is finished," Twyford said.

That way, he said, any alterations ordered by the courts can be made at the conclusion of the process.


Twyford called on the Government to make resources available to expedite appeals, of which 106 have been made in the Environment and High Courts.

"For too long, restrictive planning rules have choked off Auckland's development. Unless we can build more and build better, we can never make room for the city's growing population.

"We can't fix the housing crisis and ensure our children are able to afford to buy homes in Auckland in the future unless we get cracking on this," Twyford said.

"Seven years after the advent of the Super City, we urgently need implementation of the Unitary Plan. Nick Smith needs to get off the sideline and ensure we can get moving right away on fixing the housing crisis."

A spokesman for Minister for Housing Nick Smith said the minister was in Paris and not in a position to comment at this stage.

Today, Auckland councillors were taken through the process for the appeals by regulatory services director Penny Pirrit.

She has said the appeal by Auckland 2040 and the Character Coalition was broad in scope and has the potential to impact residential development across Auckland.

Because the appeal challenges certain zoning decisions, the zoning maps cannot become operative until the appeals is resolved.

"Until all appeals are resolved, Auckland Council is required to assess all resource consent applications against parts of both the old and new plans," Pirrit said.