Just get on with it

After six years if shilly-shallying the government is finally making noises about sorting out Auckland and has shown the stick.

If Auckland politicians don’t pass a coherent new plan for the city the government could step in as soon as September, the council’s chief executive says.

Council officials are preparing to receive the electronic equivalent of a “wheelbarrow of printed stuff” detailing Auckland’s new Unitary Plan.

After four years, more than?13,000 submissions and 249 days of hearings, Auckland’s first region-wide planning document will be delivered on July 22.

Councillors then have until August 19 to either accept or reject key planning recommendations, such as more intensified zoning and whether to move the city limit.

Many of those councillors won’t be back after the election.

If the politicians reject parts of the plan the issues can go to the Environment Court.

“If there’s a lot of rejection this plan could take a very long time to emerge,” council chief executive Stephen Town said.

“That’s where the Government’s role in this comes into play because??they’ve made it really clear that they think Auckland needs a coherent planning framework now not later, and they have made it clear that they may consider stepping in.”

The Government has laid much of the blame for Auckland’s housing crisis on poor urban planning.

Auckland Council is the only body that can free up land via consenting, and they have steadfastly opposed that and have gotten their shills and astro-turf organisations, like Generation Zero, to talk constantly about intensification and building up not out. They have shown complete intransigence and need a good kick in the balls.

Many of the issues the new Unitary Plan addresses have been contentious – such as so-called “upzoning” of traditional suburbs to allow for more apartments and townhouses.

If major topics were rejected Auckland would not have a working plan, Town said.

In that situation the old district and city plans of the eight legacy Auckland councils plus the proposed Unitary Plan would have to be taken into account in processing consents.

“So consenting becomes more difficult and costly for developers.

“You can imagine how poorly that will go down with lots of people,” Town said.

However since the upzoning debate came to a head in February officials had worked hard to educate politicians about the significant issues before them.

“I think all of the councillors know this is one of the biggest decisions that they will get to make on behalf of Aucklanders,” the chief executive said.

Upzoning only changes zoning; it doesn’t force people to sell or create an environment that makes intensification possible…it is simply a rezoning of land and a hope and a prayer that someone does something soon. No one will and the problem remains.

These local body elections are likely to elect a long-term trougher to Mayor in the twilight of his political career, a whole bunch of old fuddy-duddies without a single clue between them and leave the bureaucrats in charge for another three years. The government needs to act.


– NZ Herald