Council staff trying to water down Unitary Plan

Stuff reports:

’s rule maker has said the council opposes 14 major Unitary Plan recommendations.

The council’s Director of Regulatory Services Penny Pirrit said the council was contesting “some aspects” of the 7000-page Unitary Plan while adopting the “vast majority” of the Independent Hearing Panel’s recommendations.

Among the plan’s elements the council objects to are the hearing panel’s recommendations around Auckland’s rural/urban boundary framework, loosening subdivision rules and abolishing the council’s “compact cities” policy and intensification rules.

They are all major areas and in pretty much every case what the staff are pushing for will mean fewer houses and hence higher house prices.

Councillors need to decide whether to respect the independent panel, or let house prices continue to increase.

The Herald further reports:

Reject the recommendation to abolish a rule requiring owners to seek iwi approval for work on their land

Council officers say reinstating this rule will enable the council to better meet its legal obligations to Maori. They say there is evidence of 2213 sites and places of value to Maori and a risk of ongoing loss and damage to sites without protection.

This is depressing. The independent panel found there was no evidence these sites were of value, and local Iwi even agreed. But politically correct Council officers know best and are trying to get the taniwha tax reinserted.

Reject the recommendation to abolish minimum-size apartments

Officers say leaving this to the Building Act does not address social or quality effects and minimum sizes will provide positive social outcomes.

The council favours minimum studio apartment sizes of 30sq m in the central city and 40sq m elsewhere.

Which means less affordable housing. If someone wants to live in a small apartment, and someone wants to build them, why should the Council stop them?

Reject the deletion of the objectives and policies to focus growth within the existing metropolitan area

Officers say the lack of specific objectives and policy would lead to little or no guidance as to where future growth should be encouraged.

Reject loosening the objectives and policies for rural subdivisions

Officers say this could lead to inappropriate rural subdivisions, loss of rural production, rural character and place extra demands on infrastructure.

This means again fewer houses.

The changes proposed by staff are not minor. They would gut large segments of the Unitary Plan and lock in house inflation.

The Council should listen to the independent experts who made up the panel and adopt the Unitary Plan unchanged.

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