24 Oct 2012

Auckland housing development must improve

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Written by: Jenny Keown
Published by: Business Day | stuff.co.nz – 24 October 2012

The chief executive of Auckland Council concedes that a lot of the region’s intensified development is “rubbish” and wants to do better with any future infill housing.

Speaking at the Property Council’s residential property conference in Auckland today, Doug McKay talked about the council’s actions to help the city’s pressing housing shortage and affordability issues.

Some of the aims of the council’s 30-year Auckland plan were to increase housing supply, quality and affordability, and intensification was a key issue, he said.

Given Auckland’s rapid rise in population growth, it will need to house an extra million people over the next 30 years, and build a further 400,000 dwellings. About 300,000 of these could be accommodated within the current urban boundary and the rest in greenfield sites.

“This will require density done well … we already have a lot of intensification in Auckland and we know a lot of it is rubbish which the current development regime has delivered,” said McKay.

He believes the draft unitary plan will be key to improving the intensification development.

The plan could be described as the region’s rule book for planning in that it aimed to create simple rules about where development can happen, and help deliver the Auckland Plan, he said.

However, the unitary plan has recently become the focus of community concern.

The Government is making a legislative change to allow for the plan to be publicly notified (for submissions) in three years rather than six to 10 years.

McKay said there was a perception that appeal rights had been removed, but he claimed safeguards were still in place.

The Government has mandated that a hearings panel be appointed, without council nominees, and a board chosen by the ministers of environment and conservation.

“On any matters that the hearing panel recommend but the council disagree with – then appeals can still go through the traditional appeal process,” said McKay.

Essentia Consulting director Martin Udale, who has more than 30 years of experience in residential and commercial property development, warned that the unitary plan process was critical.

If the plan didn’t make good development easy and increase the height of developments around town centres, then the Auckland plan would lose its relevance, he said.

“Developers are not the enemy. We don’t wake up every morning and say ‘what communities can I rape and pillage?'” he said.

However, Udale admitted developers needed to rebuild the trust of the community otherwise the industry wouldn’t get a license to operate.

“It’s probably a fair representation to say that the development industry hasn’t delivered as well as it could.”


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