02 Sep 2013

Auckland planners lose ‘no density limits’ battle

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Written by Bernard Orsman
Photo by Paul Estcourt
Published in the New Zealand Herald – 02 September 2013

20130902 Auckland planners lose 'no density limits' battleAuckland Council planners have lost the battle to have “no density limits” in suburbs across the City.

Mayor Len Brown today withdrew a compromise on the controversial issues of density controls in the suburbs after sensing strong opposition from councillors and local board chairpeople.

The issue of density in the mixed housing suburban zone has been the most controversial issue at a four-day meeting to wrap up the draft Unitary Plan for formal notification.

Officers have argued strongly against plans to scrap ‘no density limits’ in the zone, which covers 40 per cent of residential Auckland, on the grounds it will provide for better design and housing choice.

The Auckland Plan committee put the issue off twice last week after councillor Ann Hartley sought to scrap the ‘no density limit’ and have a minimum density control of one house her 250sq m on sites greater than 1200sq m with a 20m street frontage.

This resulted in another compromise being put forward by Mr Brown for a 200sq m minimum house sites greater than 1200sq m, and no density limits on sites greater than 2500sq m.

At today’s meeting, council officers came back with a 2000sq m site triggering no density limits.

They also changed the language to describe density controls. They went from “no density controls” in the draft Unitary Plan to “flexible density”.

Mr Brown said he did not sense support from councillors and unease from Local Board chairs for no density controls and withdrew his amendment.

Manurewa Local Board chairwoman Angela Dalton said the density controls were appalling.

Plans for reduced outdoor living and density were not going to work in South Auckland, she said, where the average family size was 6.5 people.

“The writing is on the wall,” Ms Dalton said.

She said she was happy with the mixed housing suburban before Mr Brown introduced the 200sq m minimum dwelling size.

“I will now be advocating for the single house zone in suburbs like Wattle Downs and Weymouth,” she said.

Councillor Sandra Coney said there were good examples of big scale, good quality developments, such as Beaumont Quarter in Freemans Bay with facilities like a gym and swimming pool, but could not wear no density for small developments.

Taking small sites and stuffing houses on them would create ghettos of the future, she said.

Councillor George Wood, who surprised colleagues by voting against Mrs Hartley’s amendment on Thursday, was not present for today’s debate.

The North Shore councillor, who has been a staunch opponent of intensification for the Shore, voted for Mr Brown’s amendment of one dwelling per 200sq m.

He said he did not support Mrs Hartley’s amendment after satisfying himself that density in the suburbs could be taken care of through design controls providing a good mix.


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