08 Apr 2013

Government must not allow Unitary Plan

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Statement from David Thornton
Published: scoop.co.nz – 07 April 2013

MEDIA RELEASE 7th April 2013
Government must not allow Auckland Council to make Unitary Plan operative in September.

There is now no doubt that the Mayor and Auckland Council are aiming to rush through the processing of the Unitary Plan and make it legally operative in September.

Such a process would deny ratepayers the right to have their views on land re-zoning be subject to objection, hearing and appeal prior to the new zoning being given more legal weight than the current District Plan.

In submissions to a Parliamentary Select Committee, which meets tomorrow, the Council states that “the Unitary Plan must take legal effect from notification, for the benefits of Auckland’s amalgamation to be fully realised”

The Council’s submissions goes on “If the entire plan is not given legal effect from notification, positive outcomes enabled by the plan (including freeing up land for housing and commercial and industrial development) will take three years longer to be realised”.

More than 400 residents of Milford, on Auckland’s North Shore, last week voted at a public meeting against the Unitary Plan proposal for intensification requiring apartment blocks of between six and eight storeys, and meetings around Auckland’s other neighbourhoods are showing similar opposition.

If the Unitary Plan is made operative in September it would be open to developers to start work on marketing plans and even building apartment blocks throughout the whole of the Auckland urban area.

The Council admits this in its submission to the Select Committee, when it asks for all the rules in the Unitary Plan to have legal effect from notification in September because this will “…have the potential to encourage development…”

It could lead to the situation where the single house next to yours could be sold, moved off somewhere else, and a 5-storey block of apartments built – all without your approval, with no notification and to a design code you have no say in.

This uncontrolled intensification will lead to significant valuation changes with the consequent result of swings in council rates, both increases and decreases, and the anxiety such swings bring to ratepayers with higher value property but low and/or fixed incomes.

Consultants to Auckland Council made it clear 16 months ago that the target of 300,000 new homes was not achievable without major re-zoning in most Auckland urban areas – and this is what the Unitary Plan has largely done.

The consultants based their conclusions on a pilot detailed analysis of just 14 neighbourhoods out of 112 neighbourhoods across the region, and strongly recommended that all neighbourhoods should be analysed to give an accurate figure of how much local urban populations will increase.

This action has not happened, and apart from those 14 neighbourhoods no ratepayer really knows how he/she will be affected.

The Council is trying to persuade Government, Parliament and ratepayers that the current programme of ‘engagement’ with the community on the draft Unitary Plan will ensure that residents’ views on intensification will be reflected when the notified version of the Plan is released for formal submissions.

The problem with that is, that whatever formal submissions are made will be irrelevant if the Plan has already been made operative – truly making a farce of the whole process.

The Government, Select Committee, and ultimately Parliament, must not approve Mayor Len Brown’s totally undemocratic request.



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