13 Jun 2014

Adams seeks major changes to Unitary Plan

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Environment Minister Amy Adams.

Environment Minister Amy Adams.

Environment Minister Amy Adams is seeking major changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan, which she says will not provide enough houses and make housing even more unaffordable in its current form.

In a cabinet-approved submission on the new planning rulebook for the Super City, Ms Adams says failure to make changes could have far-reaching economic and social consequences for Auckland and New Zealand.

She said the original objectives for a quality compact and design-led approach had been “betrayed” by overly-complex policies, overlays and rules.

“I seek the removal or loosening of prescriptive provisions in the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan where they are not supported and justified by evidence and analysis,” she said.

Ms Adams highlighted a requirement for affordable housing in large-scale developments, the need for people to seek iwi approval on thousands of sites, a pre-144 heritage overlay and sustainable building requirements.

Proposals to control genetically modified organisms were also unduly and unnecessarily stringent, she said.

“Based on Auckland Council and independent market-based modelling, there appears to be a large gap between the likely development capacity provided by the proposed Auckland Unitary Plan and that required to meet the development objectives and projected population growth over the next 30 years.

“Some estimates have the gap at about half of that required. This is concerning irrespective of what growth and household formation projects are used.”

Ms Adams said in some market-attractive areas the rules were especially constraining and in some cases represented a down-zoning from existing plans.

Howls of protest to high-rise towers and intensification in “market-attractive” areas like the beach suburbs on the North Shore and eastern suburbs and Pakuranga/Howick led the original density and height proposals being reduced in the final draft of the Unitary Plan.

Unless the development controls and zoning were adjusted, Ms Adams said the percentage of new housing in greenfield areas may need to be increased from the current maximum of 40 per cent to 60 per cent to 70 per cent.

“The Auckland Council has to make hard decisions to meet the long-term planning needs of the entire Auckland region,” Ms Adams said.

The draft plan is being considered by an independent hearings panel chaired by Environment Court Judge David Kirkpatrick.

Ms Adams’ submission is one of 9400 submissions released this week on the council website.

Changes sought by Amy Adams
• Zoning, overlays, development controls and other rules adjusted to provide sufficient residential development capacity and land supply

• Removal or loosening of prescriptive provisions in the draft Unitary Plan where they are not well supported and justified by evidence and analysis

• Current inclusionary zoning requirements replaced with simpler provisions that enable and encourage higher densities of residential development


Published: The New Zealand Herald – 13 June 2014
Written by: Bernard Orsman

Photo: Stuart Munro