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Auckland Unitary Plan Current Issues Media Coverage

Council approach ‘haphazard’

Rethink the plan or rethink the council.

This was the unanimous message from 500 Aucklanders gathered at Takapuna Grammar School last night to discuss Auckland Council’s intensification plans.

The meeting was organised by resident-led group Auckland 2040 whose goal is to encourage 50,000 people to give feedback to the council on what they believe is a “haphazard, scatter-gun” approach to intensification.

Founders Richard Burton, a resource management consultant, and Guy Haddleton

argued that, contrary to what the council is claiming, 56 per cent of the residential area in Auckland will be zoned to allow apartments.

Following a city-wide resident revolt over the last fortnight Mayor Len Brown has already announced that four areas of the plan would be revised.

But those present at the meeting were unanimous in calling for the entire plan to be revisited and looked at from the “ground up”.

This would include investigating what areas are appropriate for intensification in terms of infrastructure and character.

“We have got to keep holding the mayor’s feet to the fire,” said Mr Haddleton.

“We need to slow this process down until we get it right.”

The lone voice in support of the plan, councillor Ann Hartley, was shut down by angry residents who booed her claims that council is willing and ready to listen to public feedback.

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Auckland Unitary Plan Current Issues Media Coverage

Call for plan rethink

A campaign to get 50,000 Aucklanders to tell the council to rethink its intensification plans is underway.

The coalition behind the campaign, Auckland 2040, is concerned that without a united voice residents will lose the chance to have a say on the future of their city.

The council has set a May 31 deadline for community feedback to the draft Unitary Plan, which proposes intensification through rezoning much of the city for apartment and terraced housing.

Richard Burton, a Resource Management Act consultant with 30 years experience, says the first concern is that most people are still unaware how the Unitary Plan will affect properties and neighbourhoods.

“This is the most fundamental decision Auckland will make in the next 100 years,” he says. “Apathy is our enemy and there’s a real sense of urgency. In council’s eyes not putting in feedback is tantamount to agreeing with the plan.”

Mr Burton also says he’s horrified by aspects of the plan that the council is not making clear to the public.

“People are already concerned about the height limits without even realising that the council will have the ability to allow increased height without public notification. Developers will do whatever they can to persuade the council to allow them extra height and other dispensations and I say council because residents will have no say.”

Another major concern, he says, is the lack of investigation the council has undertaken on the impact of intensification on roading, schools, sewerage, hospitals, and reserves.

Guy Haddleton, who along with Mr. Burton is driving the Auckland 2040 campaign, says community-run meetings have been a real eye-opener.

“People are not against an intensification plan for Auckland,” Mr. Haddleton says. “What they’re saying is that council needs to rethink the plan and identify appropriate locations for intensification based on infrastructure and community feedback.”

Auckland 2040 will be holding public meetings where people can submit their feedback on the plan to council.

■ May 19, 4.30pm, Takapuna Grammar School

■ May 26, 5 pm, Northcote Senior Citizens Hall.

Visit auckland2040.org.nz for more information.

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Auckland Unitary Plan Current Issues Media Coverage

High-rise plans horrify

George Gardner was shaking with disbelief when he found out apartment blocks up to six storeys are being proposed for his suburban Browns Bay neighbourhood.

He is so concerned about the effect on his suburb he printed out his own leaflets and dropped them at 45 houses in the area around Stapleford Cres.

Auckland Council’s draft unitary plan proposes zoning the area around Sherwood Reserve for apartments and terraced housing, encouraging developments between four and six storeys.

Since then Mr Gardner has had neighbours phoning him up almost in tears, he says.

“They thought like I did, that all the apartments were going to be near the businesses in Browns Bay not in the residential streets,” he says.

“People had no idea and they’re really concerned about what it will do to their land value, their views and about increases in traffic and pressure on infrastructure.”

Mr Gardner says Auckland Council should be giving the plans more publicity.

“When I was walking my dog the other day I stopped 25 people Sherwood Reserve and Freyberg Park and asked them about the unitary plan and 23 of them didn’t know how the new zoning would affect them.

“The council is just relying on us not looking to get it through,” he says.

MEETING TO GO AHEAD

Meeting Anger at 24.5 metre building heights proposed for Browns Bay town centre has prompted residents to organise a meeting tonight.

Residents thought they could relax when the Environment Court set 12.5m maximum height limits in 2003, former Browns Bay Beachfront Action Committee chairman Kurt Marquart says.

Mr Marquart is among residents keen to raise awareness about the draft unitary plan provisions.

Shading in Browns Bay streets would be a major issue with cafe visitors missing out on the sun, he says.

Existing building like the 15m Bacchus in Bute Rd would pale in comparison to the heights proposed, Mr Marquart says.

He says it’s vital residents get up to speed and have their say before submissions to the draft unitary plan close on May 31. The meeting is in Browns Bay School at 8pm tonight.

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Auckland Unitary Plan Current Issues

The Auckland Unitary Plan

Auckland Council is developing New Zealand’s biggest single resource management plan, known as the Auckland Unitary Plan. A bold and transformational plan, it will become the council’s key tool to manage development on land and water. It will have a direct impact on the shape of the city and the quality of Auckland’s built and natural environment.

Providing consistency and simplified rules, it will replace the existing district and regional plans and policies of the former councils. The Auckland Unitary Plan will be the principal regulatory tool to implement the The Auckland Plan, the council’s overriding 30 year strategy to turn Auckland into the world’s most liveable city.

As part of an enhanced public engagement programme, a political working party and council officers will produce a discussion draft to release to the public for informal feedback from March to June 2013. After incorporating feedback, a proposed Unitary Plan will go to the council in September 2013 for a decision on notification and formal public consultation. Between now and then there will be opportunities for key stakeholders and Local Boards and their communities to become involved in the development of the discussion draft.

For more detailed information on the Auckland Unitary Plan go to the Character Coalition web site

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Auckland Unitary Plan

Bid to cut appeals draws fire

Auckland Council’s bid to fast-track the draft Auckland Unitary Plan by removing the public’s appeal rights to the Environment Court has drawn fire from heritage advocates and senior resource management lawyers.

The council fears a large number of appeals will slow implementation of the rule book for the Auckland Plan’s aims for supply and affordability of housing and economic growth.

Environment Minister Amy Adams said yesterday officials were looking at possible ways of streamlining the process to reduce cost and increase certainty but no decision on an alternative had been decided.

She said any changes must ensure the community had a full say in developing the Unitary Plan.

A court case relies on competing evidence from submitters, tested through lawyers’ cross examination. Appeals filed are put through mediation in an effort to solve them without needing a costly hearing.

Heritage advocate Allan Matson said his celebrated rescue of the 1855 Fitzroy Hotel from a council demolition order would not have been possible under the proposed no appeals system.

“If we trust the council to represent developers and the public that’s fine.

“But if the council and developers want to fiddle things about then we want the ability to hold them accountable. The appeal system is transparent,” he said.

Paul Cavanagh, QC, of the Herne Bay Residents’ Association, has asked the minister to scrap the idea of “stripping 1.5 million residents of their rights to question the plan”.

He said there was no justification for eliminating the rights of the region’s special interest groups, commercial interests which aided its economy and residents’ associations.

Leaving the planning to politicians and officials was a recipe for disaster.

“There is a very good reason for the planning process – it’s about having checks in place that test the robustness of the plan.”

The Property Council’s advisers say the Super City council should be improving its own procedures which caused delays and try for a two-year limit on the appeal process.

Lawyer Russell Bartlett said the Environment Court was the place to decide acceptable rules for high-density housing and the location of the rural urban boundary.

Auckland Council chief planning officer Dr Roger Blakeley said the council made no criticism of the court in seeking a tailor-made streamlined process for the biggest planning process in New Zealand history.

Credits

Written by Wayne Thompson
Published by: The New Zealand Herald