Cambridge Edition

Goodbye to ‘village’

Mayor’s warning over housing plans


‘‘I don’t know where these guys are coming from in Wellington. ’’

Jim Mylchreest

Waipā District mayor

Worries about new ‘‘three and three’’ Government housing intensific­ation rules changing the streetscap­e of some of Waikato’s most picturesqu­e towns are deepening, with Waipā the latest to join Hamilton in expressing deep concern.

As high-growth areas, Cambridge, Te Awamutu and Kihikihi in Waipā join major centres in being caught up in the new laws. They provide for up to three homes of three storeys on a section without the need for a resource consent.

Waipā district said councillor­s had reluctantl­y agreed Tuesday to notify a district plan change for public consultati­on to give effect to the new rules, supported by Labour and National. In an interview, mayor Jim Mylchreest said that people in the district, particular­ly Cambridge, were worried a ‘‘village feel’’ to their areas could be destroyed by a proliferat­ion of such developmen­ts in existing housing areas.

‘‘It’s just not what we believe the community wants,’’ Mylchreest said.

Mylchreest was also concerned about the costs of ‘‘retrofitti­ng’’ existing ‘‘brownfield’’ areas to cope with the intensific­ation that the new policies will bring, including their impact on water supply, sewage networks and the need for parking facilities.

‘‘There’s nowhere within these existing areas that could cope with the potential intensific­ation.’’

To retrofit existing communitie­s ‘‘is really challengin­g’’, he said.

Mylchreest believed the sorts of costs involved could be ‘‘huge’’.

He agreed with the idea of more medium-density, affordable housing but thought greenfield sites would be more appropriat­e.

The suggested ‘‘three and three’’ approach and bumping up rates to pay for the added infrastruc­ture ‘‘is just not logical’’.

‘‘I don’t know where these guys are coming from in Wellington.’’

While the Government could say that intensific­ation may not happen quickly, councils would still need to juggle how far to go with infrastruc­ture upgrades to cope with what could happen.

‘‘It could happen but where it’s going to happen is the issue,’’ said Mylchreest.

Because ‘‘it’s a blanket rule’’ it could happen anywhere, he added, and the Government should talk more to local govern

ment about ways to tackle the housing crisis.

Group planning manager district growth and regulatory services Wayne Allan echoed Mylchreest’s concerns in a statement, saying that Cambridge is not Auckland and Te Awamutu is not Hamilton.

‘‘Our residents are not used to multi-storey dwellings going up next door, that’s not why they live here. This legislatio­n is a complete misfit for our district.’’

Allan said he had never seen such a heavy-handed approach to planning issues.

‘‘Essentiall­y we have been told that any submission­s which seek to amend or delete the new density standards will be considered out of scope. That is highly unusual and means our towns are in for fundamenta­l changes to how they look and feel,

‘‘This change lumps Cambridge, Te Awamutu and Kihikihi in with huge cities like Auckland; it’s simply nonsensica­l.’’

He also said fundamenta­l issues had been overlooked in the rush to change planning rules.

‘‘Initial reports indicate Waipā’s infrastruc­ture – our roads and pipes and so on – may not have the capacity to cope with a huge and fast increase in housing. If that’s the case, resource consents will still be required and developers may have to front up with money for infrastruc­ture improvemen­ts before anything can progress.’’

In Hamilton, the district plan committee last week signed off on Plan Change 12 to give effect to the new Government rules, despite a range of reservatio­ns from councillor­s keenly aware of the potential for ratepayers being unhappy about the impact of the new rules on them.

One councillor went so far as to express fears the changes could help turn parts of Hamilton into a ‘‘dump’’, while the city planning manager was worried the new legislatio­n risked a cluttered city and ‘‘poor quality urban design outcomes’’.

 ?? CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF ?? Waipā’s mayor fears ratepayers will have to fund ‘‘huge’’ costs for infrastruc­ture upgrades in towns like Cambridge to help pave the way for new housing intensific­ation rules.
CHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF Waipā’s mayor fears ratepayers will have to fund ‘‘huge’’ costs for infrastruc­ture upgrades in towns like Cambridge to help pave the way for new housing intensific­ation rules.
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