Big issues part of local elections
WHAT IS HAPPENING TO POST OFFICE BUILDING?
I was just wondering what was happening to the old Post Office building, in Serlby Place in the central city, bought by Porirua City Council for $580,000.
I thought the idea was to turn it into expensive apartments. Is this still the council’s plan?
I have heard that blue asbestos has been discovered inside the building and that each floor has now been vandalised. Is this true also?
I have also heard that the building was offered to Whitireia Polytech for $100,000.
I amnow paying $4000 in rates to the council.
It took the full year’s rates onmy property and those from 144 others to buy this building.
Where is the return to the ratepayer? Richard Franks Camborne For a change, matters of major substance will be in the frame at this year’s local body elections.
In each of New Zealand’s three biggest cities, voters will be casting their verdict on the sort of transformational issues that arise only once in a generation.
In Auckland, it will be the new housing plan for the city.
In Wellington, the campaign is likely to be dominated by the mooted extension to the airport runway.
In Christchurch the potential sale of council assets is likely to be at the forefront of voters’ minds.
None of these matters are likely to be finally, irrevocably decided - and safe from legal review - by election day on October 8th.
In Auckland, however, voters will be heading into the election booth knowing how each and every incumbent councillor voted on the latest version of Auckland’s Unitary Plan that was unveiled last week.
It’s not often that public disclosure and a democratic vote coincide quite so neatly.
For those living outside Auckland, one of the striking aspects of the revised housing plan was how daring the independent hearings panel had been on one hand, while retaining a degree of balance on the other.
Under their proposals, more of the city would be rendered open to intensification, as the city area zoned for single homes is allowed to shrink by up to 22 per cent.
To put that another way - housing of two or three storeys would be permitted in future in nearly 60 percent of Auckland.
As the economist and housing specialist Shamabeel Eaqub argues: ‘‘[The plan] rightly assumes that people can walk more than 200 metres to public transport and allows greater densification, on a larger radius, around bus stops and train stations. It allows for flexibility for minor dwellings of up to 65 square metres, which may bring back the granny [flat] to the backyard.’’
The rules requiring all houses built before 1944 to need a demolition consent would be scrapped. ‘‘Old, cold and mouldy,’’ as Eaqub says, ‘‘is not necessarily heritage.’’
At the same time, the panel opted to go outwards as well as upwards - with an up to 30 per cent increase in land use allowed beyond the current city boundaries.
Only Aucklanders probably need to be concerned about which 10 suburbs stand to see marked rises in their land values (and rates) as the intensification process unfolds.
Finally, one of the other surprising - and welcome - aspects of the Unitary Plan was that
‘‘In Auckland, however, voters will know how each and every incumbent councillor voted on the latest version of Auckland's Unitary Plan.’’
planning for the city’s future needs is not only seen as desirable, but possible.
Auckland has managed to devise a regulatory framework for its housing needs for the next 24 years, and for the 422,000 homes its projected growth is likely to require.
The plan isn’t perfect. The lack of a social/affordable housing ratio in major developments seems a major flaw, and Maori may well challenge the reduction in their rights to consultation.
Yet for decades, there was a been a sense of policy drift - in central government in particular - and a willingness to wait for whatever the market, or chance, throws up.
The Auckland exercise contradicts that fatalism.