20 Dec 2012

Call to learn about housing plans

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Written by: Liz Willis
Published: Auckland Now / North Shore Times – 20 December 2012

Aucklanders will see “a once-in-a-lifetime transformation” from intensification and it frightens many people, planning consultant James Hook says.

People need to keep up to date with Auckland Council’s plans and have an opinion on them, says Mr Hook, Envivo planning director.

The Auckland Plan affects every property, tenant, landlord and investor from Omaha to Waiuku, he says.

Mr Hook says it is very difficult to get information from council until the draft is released in March.

It is important people speak up but uproar is unlikely to start until neighbours start discussing what is planned for their streets, he says.

Auckland Council is planning for up to 280,000 new homes within urban limits and up to 160,000 outside over the next 30 years.

“Even if you halve the figures it would have a substantial change to the fabric of Auckland,” Mr Hook says.

Fundamental changes proposed to residential areas include changes to how much of a site can be built on and greater emphasis on design quality, he says. He believes it will be hard for the council to influence affordability issues.

The cost of servicing new areas on Auckland’s outskirts will make new houses still cost at least $500,000, he says.

A two-bedroom apartment is likely to be at least $450,000, which makes it attractive in an area like Browns Bay or Mission Bay but not in suburbs like Glenfield, he says.

Mr Hook says there is nervousness about the intermediate level of planners writing development rules and that the plan will take a lot of effort to get right.

But Shore councillor Ann Hartley says: “That’s rubbish. Absolute rubbish.”

Ms Hartley says the council has “very high calibre staff”, including Kiwis returned from Australia and Britain, and retained experienced staff from former councils.

The Unitary Plan looks 30 years out and apartment buyers in the future might be attracted to suburbs that have not interested them before, she says.

The council wants to control development to stop the “crude infill” that’s happened in the past and encourage housing options to help affordability, she says.


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