19 Apr 2013

Plan timeline ‘appalling’

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Written by Simom Smith
Published: Eastern Courier – 19 April 2013

POLITICAL INTEREST: Monday night’s unitary plan community meeting at the Pakuranga United Rugby Club is well attended by politicians.

POLITICAL INTEREST: Monday night’s unitary plan community meeting at the Pakuranga United Rugby Club is well attended by politicians.

Frustrated residents say the proposed draft unitary plan is difficult to comprehend.

A bunch of politicians turned up with Auckland Council officers at the Pakuranga United Rugby Club on Monday night to hear what 100 Howick ward people had to say.

They included the mayor, deputy mayor, Howick ward councillors and most of the Howick Local Board.

Forty-year Howick resident Martin Dealy says he’s tried to understand the unitary plan.

“But to ask me to now comment on a plan which I can’t understand and find contradictory and confusing is a bit unfair, frankly.”

He says it is “appalling” the council wants the draft to be made operative in September.

“We really do need much more time to consider this.”

Mayor Len Brown says the reason the council is pursuing a “fairly pacey and fast process” is that many of the 14 plans guiding development across Auckland are old and “irrelevant”.

He says the plan is still in its early stages of development.

“It’s not cast in concrete, it’s not handed down from the mount,” he says. “We will end up with a plan – and it’s a plan that will deliver the Auckland Plan.”

The Auckland Plan was adopted by the council last year and lays out the vision of a quality compact city to accommodate an extra million people over the next 30 years.

Howick Local Board planning spokesman David Collings says the board has no opinion yet on the proposed unitary plan.

People fear the proposed high-rise height limits but they are only for the centre of town centres – many of which currently don’t have a limit, he says.

The plan is “pretty hairy stuff” but people may like to just put in a “simple submission” on aspects of it.

Suzanne Norcott of Howick says she used to live in the United Kingdom where small studio apartments were built and they turned into “homes for drugs, vandals and burglaries”.

“We do not want this for Howick,” she says. “Where I live I don’t want to wake up and find a three-storey apartment next door.”

Kentigern Residents Association chairman Lawrence Thoms asks whether final decisions on rezoning will reflect the view of residents.

Council planning manager Penny Pirrit says it is not a vote.

“But obviously the council needs to weigh the feedback it receives from one community against the outcomes it wants to achieve,” she says.

She says the plan is about guiding gradual changes over the next 30 years.

“This is not about waking up tomorrow and suddenly finding the whole of Auckland has changed.”

Auckland Region Residents and Ratepayers acting chairman Grant Taylor says the plan does not allow for enough car parks.

“I suspect that there is a social engineering aspect to this,” he says.

Some residents are concerned infrastructure could not cope.

Deputy mayor Penny Hulse says the draft plan has been written with this in mind.

“We are not going to jam houses in on top of infrastructure that can’t cope,” she says. “But we are also not going to build extremely expensive infrastructure that your rates will pay for now if the development isn’t there.”

Other residents are concerned about where new parks might go.

Ms Pirrit says the council is looking at that in a separate process.

Pakuranga resident Catherine Young supports intensification but is worried about heritage areas and the coast.

“I want to know what consequences are built into this plan for developers who break the rules.”

Ms Pirrit says the Resource Management Act sets them out not the council. Many officers and councillors feel the level of those fines is not appropriate.

“And in some instances they are hardly worth the effort of taking the person to court.”


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