Delaying housing raises concerns
How to solve Auckland’s housing shortage continues to create tension between the Government and Auckland Council.
Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse this week tried to convince a select committee of MPs that the proposed Unitary Plan – a rule book for how the city will develop over the next 30 years – should come into force from September.
‘‘We need to enable flexible housing choices. That’s at the heart of the plan,’’ Mrs Hulse told the Local Government and Environment Select Committee at a meeting at the Novotel Hotel at Auckland Airport .
The plan advocates for more apartments and terraced housing in existing suburbs and developing more properties on greenfields land.
But the MPs and a growing number of councillors want more time to consider the plan with the Government setting up a hearings panel to look at it over the next three years.
But growing angst about the plan became obvious during the presentations.
Mrs Hulse was forced to watch as representatives from the Manurewa and Orakei local boards presented to the committee, agreeing with the Gov- ernment’s three-year delay.
And right-leaning councillor Christine Fletcher circulated a letter written to Prime Minister John Key on behalf of 10 Auckland councillors expressing concern at the speed the council was moving.
‘‘The draft plan is meeting fierce community opposition as people begin to come to grips with the detail of the proposed development,’’ the letter says. Council regional and local planning manager Penny Pirrit says delaying the building side of the plan until 2016 could cause inconsistencies with rules around air, water and land coming in from September.
Mrs Hulse says it would be very difficult to make that situation work.
‘‘You can’t have the situation where some of the plan is given immediate effect . . . but rules that focus on the built environment will have to wait.’’
National list MP Paul Goldsmith told the committee he is worried that rushing the plan through might cause a series of unintended problems.
The council has also asked the Government to let it help decide who the hearing commissioners will be.
‘‘Our communities want decisions that affect Aucklanders made by Aucklanders, not by Wellington,’’ Mrs Hulse says.
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