Month: May 2013

Lets not Play Silly with the Unitary Plan

Work with what we have please

I saw this from the much respect Councillor Fletcher this morning in regards to the Unitary Plan (it also has comments on it as well as it comes from Facebook):

The Unitary Plan should be withdrawn and replaced with a carefully staged approach that takes into full account critical infrastructure and the cost of growth. I hope the Mayor and CEO of Auckland Council will be willing to consider this with submissions on the ill conceived plan closing today. It would be throwing good money after bad to keep fiddling with this fundamentally flawed document. Better to scrap it and start again.
  • Matt van Tuinen Hear hear
  • Ben Ross While I hear you Christine have you asked the respective Ministers back in Wellington if such an exercise can be done? You of all people know that the UP is a creature of the Local Government Act (Auckland Governance) 2010 and procedures must be followed set out in that Act (let alone the RMA).

    Yes we might want to restart the UP again but is it “legal” to do so
  • Sharon Stewart I agree with Christine Fletcher the information the public have been asked to submit on has so many mistakes.. The question that needs to be asked is it legal to ask the community to submit on something with so many mistakes. Cameron BrewerDick QuaxGeorge Wood
  • Ben Ross So anyone going to ask the Local Government Minister, the Minister for the Environment and the Attorney General for a legal opinion on all this?
  • Sharon Stewart I am sure this will happen
  • Ben Ross Let me know when it does please 
  • Sharon Stewart Needs to be done before we waste more rate payers money. This is so important for Auckland to get it right.
    • Ben Ross Please do so ASAP. I have a 110 page submission sitting here on the UP as well as Clients’ submissions. None of us want our time (and money wasted) under taking the work we have done only for it to be “pointless” due to a total rewrite ordered
    • Sharon Stewart Better to rewrite and get it right.
    • Ben Ross Waiting
  • Gayatri Jaduram Do we have a legal definition for “Draft, Draft” ! 


So a pile of umming and ooo-ing over the Unitary Plan as the 5pm deadline comes and goes today on this feedback round. Thus far the Councillors pushing a rewrite seem non-committal to actually doing what I stated and contacting the relevant Ministers if they seriously want rewrite.

As I said “Please do so (get a rewrite ordered) ASAP. I have a 110 page submission sitting here on the UP as well as Clients’ submissions. None of us want our time (and money wasted) under taking the work we have done only for it to be “pointless” due to a total rewrite ordered”

Having just got my own submission and and helped my clients get theirs in I think we would be rightfully annoyed if a total rewrite was to occur now.

Councillors if they wanted the rewrite should have asked for one on March 16 when the plan was released. Not on May 31 when the first round of feedback is about to close (as I write this).\

I have said the Councillors have been particularly slow in some aspects of the UP. I am wondering if this call for a rewrite is them being slow again.

Not good enough if it is and was…

I and my clients do not appreciate our time being wasted due to slowness from the Governing Body…

Submission Sent

105 Pages and The Room Smelling of Toner Later


Finally after 28 days (I was in Australia for part of the Unitary Plan feedback process) my submission to the first part of the Unitary Plan is in with Council.

You can see the feedback below which still only covered a select area of the UP. I have filed different submissions at different stages however on other aspects of the Unitary Plan including:

  • Parking Regulations
  • Transport
  • Social Infrastructure
  • Social Development
  • Water
  • Planning methodologies (although again mentioned in this submission)


I must apologies in advance in regards to my submission. As I imported blog posts from here into the submission, some ease of reading aspects might have been lost. All commentary on the Unitary Plan can be found here:

And so where next?

Unitary Plan coverage will continue although at a lesser pace until the next round begins – most likely notification later this year.

But other areas requiring commentary have come up such as Port of Auckland, my favourite – Auckland Transport, and now the elections.

A massive thank you to my readers throughout the Unitary Plan process. The UP has not been easy nor without its controversies. But pressure will continue Council as the UP and Rural Urban Boundary go through their next phases.

My Submission


Talking Auckland: Blog of TotaRim Consultancy Limited

TotaRim Consultancy
Bringing Well Managed Progress to Auckland and The Unitary Plan

Auckland: 2013 – YOUR CITY, YOUR CALL



Legitimate Concerns with the Unitary Plan?

What Do you Think?


With the Unitary Plan feedback due to close on Friday, we are still getting rumblings on the Unitary Plan popping up in the media. This particular one came up in the Herald this morning – and was not written by Orsman (meaning I will pay attention):

Support for draft plan ‘fading fast’

By Wayne Thompson

Local boards urge mayor to slow things down as ‘enhanced engagement process’ causing confusion.


Mayor Len Brown was urged to slow down the process. Photo / NZPA

Mayor Len Brown was urged to slow down the process. Photo / NZPA

Support for the draft Unitary Plan is “melting faster than snow in sunshine” amid widespread anxiety over intensive housing proposals, say the leaders of three local boards from Orakei, Manurewa and Hibiscus & Bays.

In a joint statement, the leaders say the 11-week so-called “enhanced engagement process” for the pre-notified new rule book for growth has confused the public and lacks credible evidence of the effects of higher-density zoning.

Public comments on the draft plan will be accepted up to 5pm on Friday and so far 3000 individual comments have come in.

However, Orakei Local Board chairwoman Desley Simpson predicted a low response from the usually outspoken eastern suburbs people.

Most people were “in the dark” about the council’s disclosure, after nine weeks of presentations, that 70 per cent of the area was proposed for a mixed housing zone, with a maximum height of three storeys instead of two.

They would have wanted a say if they had known that was the case, she said, and urged Mayor Len Brown to slow down the process, which is scheduled to produce a final draft version for public consultation in September.

Manurewa Local Board chairwoman Angela Dalton called on the council to show its evidence in favour of planning for 7000 extra houses in the area. The board’s own market research – presented to the council – showed it was unlikely to happen.

You can read the rest of the article over at the Herald.

There are several messages cropping up here:

  1. Participation in the Unitary Plan process thus far
  2. Evidence on Council’s methodology behind aspects some zoning like Mixed Housing Zones and the Centres (especially in Town and Local Centres)
  3. The next round of engagement with the Unitary Plan


In the case the of participation, the best way to hear the rumblings is listen to this (it is free but you do need to register first)—unitary-plan-notification-delay/1

After that I would recommend reading my “Skewing of the Unitary Plan” in regard to the demographic skewering of Unitary Participation to see where we are at (and the imbalance as well)

With regards to “Evidence on Council’s methodology behind aspects some zoning like Mixed Housing Zones and the Centres (especially in Town and Local Centres);” I have seen a post from Phil McDermott that covers aspects of this and will repost his thoughts later today.

In regards to the next round of engagement with the Unitary Plan; it will be with Local Boards and Key Stakeholders (I got ranked as a Key Stakeholder by Council in regards to the UP – whether I participate in this next round is yet to be seen) around June-July. This is per the resolution moved by the Auckland Plan Committee this month. What this next round with entail and how much effect it will have in reshaping the Unitary Plan is yet to be seen.


So legitimate concerns with the Unitary Plan or full of wind? Comments below. My own opinion currently is; allow the May 31 deadline to pass. However, I am interested to see what this next round with Local Boards and Key Stakeholders will entail. More to the point will that particular round have any real grunt in getting changes through in reshaping the UP…

Time will tell


Concerns on the Manukau South Link

Port of Auckland – Can we talk please?

Caught this today in the Manukau Courier. Rather interesting that they bring this up today of all days. Ah well lets take a look:

Wiri train tracks block access

Creating a southern connection between the Manukau Train Station and the main trunk line could be more difficult than first thought.

Local boards throughout the south have called for the link so passengers can travel from Manukau to Papakura and Pukekohe directly.

Passengers wanting to head south from Manukau now have to transfer at Papatoetoe.

But a Kiwirail spokeswoman says if the connection gets approval it would need to cross tracks that lead to Ports of Auckland’s inland port at Wiri.

That would require reconstruction of those tracks.

“This part of the rail corridor has quite complex track layouts because of the Manukau branch junction, the port facility and the EMU [Electric Multiple Units] depot,” she says.

A Ports of Auckland spokesman didn’t want to comment on how ripping up its tracks could affect operations at the port because no-one had put forward an official proposal to do the work.

But Manurewa Local Board chairwoman Angela Dalton says linking the Manukau station with the main trunk line made more sense than other transport projects being pushed.

“It doesn’t make sense to me, pouring money into the city rail link when we need to get things moving out here.

“We need to get cars off the streets and the trains connecting effectively.”

Auckland Transport‘s main priority at the Manukau line is double-tracking it so services can run every 10 minutes to and from Britomart, council documents show.

It’s also assessing the viability of a link between the two lines as part of its rail development plan.


The Manukau South (Rail) Link is a project that I have been following closely since I first raised the point that a Electrification Mast would be in the road of the south link early last year. It is a project that I still follow closely while Auckland Transport develop a case study for this link – that south so desperately need!

In saying that though has anyone actually approached Port of Auckland and had a decent conversation with them on how the South Link might work. Work as in POAL has their Wiri Inland Port that covers part of the South Link path. And whether POAL should move their Wiri facility 900 metres down the road where this is a mothballed siding and massive block of land sitting vacant.

Port of Auckland I think we of the South need to have a chat over coffee and hot scones. What do you think?


Belmont and the Prime Minister



For once it is not Orsman doing a piece on the Unitary Plan in the Herald. Meaning I might get a 10% chance (rather than a -100% chance with Orsman (although his last three articles were actually quite good (although did he actually write them or take his meds prior))) of it being balanced (to a degree we allow the media in some sway here).

This article from the NZH today: “Belmont intensification ‘madness’” has three themes running today. The first theme is an embed of a NewstalkZB interview on the Unitary Plan with Leighton Smith and the Prime Minister. The second theme was on Belmont, the UP and a surprising admission. The third theme was one I call ‘From the Files of the Loon Bin.’ The Loon Bin theme was also addressed by the Prime Minister in his ZB interview as well.

The First Theme

The Prime Minister was questioned on aspects of the Unitary Plan by Leighton Smith. The interview trundled along well enough looking at aspects of the Unitary Plan. Points made by the Prime Minister were:

  • Recognise Brownfield and Greenfield urban development will happen
  • People will choose to live in apartments
  • Three year formal notification period
  • We are not China thus will not cap growth (ties into the third theme)
  • Auckland essentially has critical mass behind thus will attract growth – something I mentioned here: “Growing Up
  • Been concerns from the leafy suburbs of Auckland (North and Isthmus) – but Leighton Smith did point out correctly Papakura from the South with us facing down 18 Storeys being a Metropolitan Centre under the UP.


As for the Second Theme – Belmont

I recommend going and reading the article “Belmont intensification ‘madness‘” to see some interesting insights there. In short Belmont being constrained where it is with only one two-lane road in and out of the area (and serving Devonport as well) makes the area not suitable for much intensification. Even if Auckland Transport was bold and manage to get Lake road to be a 2 lane road with the shoulders allowing a high frequency (10 minute) buses on their own bus lanes, Belmont could support nothing more than a Local Centre (three storeys under my alternative) with surround areas classified as Low Density under my alternative to the UP:

  • Low Density Zone: Mostly single family homes to be built (would allow small-scale infilling as well). This also includes three storey super large houses with 5-8 bedrooms at the discretion of the Local Board through its Area Plan

What was more interesting was this admission made in the article:

It was possible the whole of the Belmont sector could be rezoned depending only on planners’ exercise of discretion in favour of a developer.

“No neighbour’s consent is required and there is no right of appeal to the decision,” Mr Keenan said. “We consider that to be undemocratic and abhorrent to us.

“I was 35 years in legal practice and a lot of my client were developers. I can tell you from experience: do not repose the character of our communities in the hands of the developers. It’s a very bad idea.”

Food for thought when you get ready with your formal submissions on the Unitary Plan at the end of the year.

As for the Third Theme which the Prime Minister commented on in his interview:

In East Auckland, Tamaki Housing Group spokeswoman Sue Henry took to the council 673 submission forms collected from residents.

“A lot of the forms have still not come back,” she said.

“We strongly object to the Unitary Plan proposal of uprooting existing communities and enforcing multistorey intensified slums on residents.

“We want Auckland’s growth capped and intensification proposals scrapped in their entirety, because there is a better way of doing it.”

Using the word “slums” will have me disinterested straight away. Despite some dodgy developments over time, Auckland does not have slums and will not be going down the path towards slums. So using the ‘slum’ term is hyper-sensationalist!

As for capping growth; what the PM said in his interview and what I say all  along. We are not Communist China. We are a Western Liberal Democracy and as such growth is going to always occur. I would recommend to Sue Henry to read my “Growing Up” post as Auckland is no longer a backwater village – but, an international city! I also see she put no alternative forward (although did the Herald leave it out).

So the Herald article? Balanced compared to what can be trotted out

Unitary Plan Feedback is due May 31, make sure you get yours in if you want a say on how your city, your home will develop over the next 30 years.


Talking Auckland: Blog of TotaRim Consultancy Limited

TotaRim Consultancy
Bringing Well Managed Progress to Auckland and The Unitary Plan

Auckland: 2013 – YOUR CITY, YOUR CALL



Time for a Debunk?

I will let you read this first as I would like your comments as you have heard enough of me on this particular matter.


DISCLAIMER: The email originating from the particular Local Board member does not reflect the view nor opinion of the Eden-Albert Local Board. The email below is to be taken as a reflection of the the particular individual’s view only


Managing Director of TotaRim Consultancy Limited


Got forwarded this from someone that has originated from the Eden-Albert Local Board.

Take a read and leave your comments below. If you really want to know my comments then please wait for my full feedback currently being written up for the Council on the Unitary Plan


Subject: Unitary Plan Important Please read and pass on
Date: Sat, 25 May 2013 18:15:35 +1200
Dear fellow Stakeholder in Auckland’s future,
This is lengthy but worth the read  and please submitt I am sending this to you because I know you and thought you would like to know the implications ..
This has been put together by some one else but I agree with all it say.       Pauline Anderson Your Local Board member for Albert Eden
Read the following email text, then copy it and email it to (or share this page with) any and every Aucklander you know ! This is IMPORTANT – this “plan” has the potential to wreck our city for everyone – and once it is done there will be no going back!!

I am writing to you as a personal contact because I have become deeply concerned about the future effects of Auckland Council’s draft Unitary Plan.

I want to alert you to these issues and persuade you of the need to act FAST, BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!

The deadline for submissions is next Friday 31st May and the plan runs into thousands of pages. Given the 31st May deadline you don’t really have time between now and then to read and understand the Plan in detail.

However this email will give you the key points of concern, tell you what you can do and help you to do it.

But I stress: you/we must act before the deadline or it will be too late!

If we do nothing it will be assumed that we are happy and the plan will be fast-tracked through implementation by our elected representatives.

The impact upon you, your city, your neighbourhood and your homes could be severe and will be final!


Well the provisions of the plan are set to change the rules about what can be built in more than half of the city’s residential areas.

How this directly impacts you will depend on which “zone” your property is in. There are several zones but if your house is in either the Mixed Housing or the Terraced Housing and Apartments zone then you have got a problem ! To find out which zone your property is in go to

to view the Council’s map.

The viewer is not very user-friendly but if you put your pointer onto the map it will change to a hand and you can then zoom in with a double click and move the map to locate your actual plot.

· If your plot is shaded in the “brown paper” colour you are in the Mixed Housing zone.
· If it is in the “Amber” colour you are in the Terraced Housing & Apartment zone.
· If your house is in the off white colour your enjoyment of your property will not be directly affected by the plan unless your property is close to the border with one of the other zones.

…but since we all stand to suffer indirectly as a result of the plan you might want to read on anyway!

Firstly the direct impacts:
If you are in the Mixed Housing zone then your height-to-boundary rules are gone and the plan will allow construction of 10 metre high three storey multi-occupancy apartment blocks. Go to

and scroll down the page to see what this might look like.
If you are in the Terraced Housing and Apartment zone then your height-to-boundary rules are gone and the plan will allow construction of rectangular multi-occupancy apartment blocks with, dependent upon the width of frontage, in the worst case no effective height limitation. Go to

and scroll down the page to see what this might look like.


In both zones your right to notification of and objection to such developments will be removed –
the decision will be made between the Council and the developer independently of what you may think.

In both zones your right to appeal to, and have your objections heard
by a higher authority (the Environment Court) will be removed.

So the first you might know of a multi-storey development starting three metres away from your boundary could be when the diggers start up – and there will be basically nothing that you will be able to do about it! The plan is specifically designed to allow this sort of development to take place without the hindrance of objections by people affected. New blocks will be allowed to shade your windows and garden from the sun, block out your views, increase traffic in your road or down your shared driveway etc. etc. and there will be absolutely nothing you can do about it!


Indirect Impacts:
And what about the indirect impacts of such a development “plan”. Well these will affect everyone right across our city. That is because the “plan” does not stipulate where development will take place; it is designed to allow developers free rein to build high intensity (i.e. high rise apartments) housing anywhere within the new zones without the hindrance of objections from neighbouring property owners and these areas are spread right across the city.

But what the plan doesn’t do is take any account of the extra load of all the additional families and people who may move into an area where development takes off; that is because the Council, with this plan, does not impose any sort of planned approach to manage the roll-out of such developments to allow local infrastructure (e.g. Roads, sewerage, schools, parks, public transport, swimming pools, libraries, etc.) to support all the extra people to be put in place. And that means that it cannot predict where developments will actually be built – that will be left entirely up to the developers – and they will have more or less free rein to build what they want, where they want and when they want, right across the city whether the infrastructure is ready or not.

I do not know how such a free-for-all constitutes a “plan” and I am deeply concerned that what will actually occur will be years of mayhem. If you think the traffic problems in your suburb are bad now, just think what they will be like if multi-occupancy blocks start appearing all over the place with each new family expecting to have a couple of cars! Let alone the question of where their kids are going to go to school or providing adequate emergency services, etc., etc. etc.

The conventional approach to development is to put in the services such as roads, sewerage, water and power first and to work to a plan which provides for the other services such as schools, hospitals; public transport and green spaces to be provided before or at least at the same time as the houses start going up. Where new housing is to be built upon existing infrastructure as is being proposed here, then to avoid creating infrastructural problems down the track, the development plan should include updating and enlarging of that infrastructure at least at the same time as the housing is being developed if not before, but definitely not after the event.

So even if your home and family are not directly affected by the new building rules you will more than likely suffer from more cars on your streets, longer commutes, bigger class sizes in your kids’ schools, more foot traffic, more noise and possibly years of disruption as the Council and the other services providers go round and round upgrading services that are simply not up to the job for the number of people who will be using them.

No matter how they try to sugar-coat this draft plan (and they are trying very hard with the considerable resources at their disposal that you pay for with your rates), the fact is that it is not really a plan at all, but an attack on the established rights of a subset of the population of Auckland to allow uncontrolled and uncontrollable development in the Council’s chosen upwards direction and the impact will be felt by all of us if it is allowed to proceed.

So what can you do about it?

Firstly let me say again: Doing nothing is the same as saying that you are happy with the plan!

If you do nothing the plan will be pushed ahead as Len Brown put it “fast, fast, FAST”.. And while the council strategy is to persuade you that it is a “just a draft” if you do not tell them in no uncertain terms what you do not want in any plan, they will only take out of the draft the bits that they do not want in their plan not the bits you don’t want in it – and you can guess which bits they will leave in!

The only chance you have of influencing the outcome is to object. The following are some things you might like to object about worded so that you can copy them straight into the Council’s online objection form:

I/We oppose the Draft Unitary Plan residential provisions and request Council to:
· Rethink the plan and allow more time for residents to understand, consider and if necessary oppose it. The current plan is far too long for anyone to understand in its entirety, let alone laypeople who are not familiar with the wording of such documents in the time that has been allowed under the current proposals.
· Change the wording of the plan to allow a right of consultation and objection about proposed developments to all affected homeowners and a right of appeal to a higher authority such as the Environment Court.
· Revise the plan to prevent the proposed scattergun approach which permits multi-storey/high density apartments to be developed throughout the city.
· Determine the ability of roading and other infrastructure (e.g. schools, sewers, public transport) to support and accommodate intensification before permitting intensification.
· Focus apartment building into key areas where the prices for apartments that are built will be affordable (rather than million dollar plus apartments e.g. ones with million dollar views) and where the city’s environmental appeal will not be adversely impacted and encourage comprehensive planning for each of these areas.
· Re-evaluate the projected population growth used as a basis for the plan based upon census information and consider other ways of reducing population growth in Auckland rather than just accepting that the projected growth is an inevitable fact.
· Change the plan to respect and not override existing determinations of the Environment Court and other such agencies.
· Remove the Council’s discretion to allow buildings of any height to be built.

The Council’s online objection form can be accessed by going to

To complete the objection form:
copy (highlight them and press Ctrl & C at the same time) the objections you want to raise from the list above;
2. click on the online form link;
3. scroll down the form to the section entitled “Please provide your feedback on the aspects of the draft Auckland Unitary Plan you would like to see changed and why (please attach a separate document with your feedback if required)”;
4. click in the box on the form;
5. paste (press Ctrl & V at the same time) your objections into the form;
6. add your other details and any other objections you want to make;
7. when you’re done click the “Submit” button.

Before you start doing that, please can I ask if you will do something else which is just as important and will only take a few moments?
Please will you forward this message to (or share this page with) as many other Aucklanders as you can, so that they can consider the ramifications of the plan & if they wish send their objections too?
To forward the email:
1. click the “Forward” button in your mail software;
2. replace my name with your own;
3. type or paste the email addresses of up to 10 Aucklanders you know into the “To:” field, and
4. click the “Send” button….
(N.B.. all the right people in central and local government will have been targeted by the time you get this – so you don’t need to send it to them too, unless you want to because you know them personally!)

Then you can go back to click the links above to send your own objections – but remember they have to be received by the Friday 31st May deadline.


Pauline Anderson Albert Eden Local Board Member
Facilitator Mt Albert Business and Community Groups Assn
Hm: 09 8467 402 Mob: 021 770799
74 Mt Albert Rd, Mt Albert, Auckland 1025


Yes I have noted that anything on the RUB which affects the South and West is rather silent…

Also the above provides irony abound especially after my “Skewing of the Unitary Plan” post this morning.