‘Cambridge is not Christchurch’
Mayor backs National’s housing U-turn
Waipā’s mayor is happy with National’s change of heart on housing intensification, saying the idea of ‘‘unbridled development’’ concerned residents.
Susan O’Regan said that rules targeting larger urban areas are inappropriate for her district.
‘‘Kihikihi is not Auckland and Cambridge is not Christchurch.’’
‘‘We welcome a reconsideration of the support they [National] provided to that legislation.’’
The legislation was announced in 2021 by the Government and National, and would allow buildings of up to three storeys on sites in growth areas without the need for resource consent.
National leader Christopher Luxon this week told a crowd in Auckland that National had got it ‘‘wrong’’ with the mediumdensity push.
The party’s new housing growth plan includes options to opt out and provisions for greater greenfield development than infill.
But the previously announced intensification rules and how Waipā plans to give effect to them are the subject of joint hearings before commissioners – alongside Hamilton and Waikato district councils, which are also affected.
O’Regan hopes the commissioners will have some sympathy for her council’s views, and said Waipā had already done a lot of work of recent years to facilitate development.
She didn’t have a problem with more intensification but objected to the ‘‘unbridled development’’ the rules could facilitate.
The regime included the right to build three homes of three storeys on sections.
There was widespread support in the district for the council’s objections, and O’Regan said the rules needed to allow for local choice.
She expected political parties’ proposed housing rules could become a ‘‘defining’’ issue at the general election.
Besides councils being able to opt out of the ‘‘three and three’’ rules, National’s newly hatched housing growth plan contains provision for greater greenfield development rather than infill.
Hamilton mayor Paula Southgate said a potential positive about National’s plan was greater flexibility on how council applied new rules but said ‘‘the detail needs to be known’’.
More flexibility could give Hamilton greater freedom to develop in a way that suited a plethora of high-level Waikatospecific plans developed locally.
Waikato District mayor Jacqui Church said her council needed ‘‘viable and flexible’’ options and Government support to finance the growth of increased housing ‘‘whatever the planning rules.’’