The City and those supporting the City realise the City needs intensification
Ever since the eleven Councillors stated last week that they would hold a vote to withdraw the Council’s own Primary Evidence (thus withdrawing the Council out of the Hearings) from the Rezoning Topic of the Unitary Plan more and more of the City are becoming appalled at those 11 Councillors (see: 10 Councillors Wanting to Withdraw Already Lodged #UnitaryPlan Primary Evidence = Stupid). I recently laid down the processes currently being worked through the Rezoning Topic over at Public Address: Correcting Auckland 2040’s Unitary Plan befuddlement
Apart from a case of the trolls over the weekend the increasing mood towards the 11 Councillors is one of hostility not support.
Before I look at that increasing hostility here is the legislation (set by the National Government) concerning the Unitary Plan Hearings Panel dealing with out-of-scope submission points:
It is up to Environment Court Judge Kirkpatrick who chairs the Unitary Plan Panel on whether to accept or disregard the out-of-scope changes brought forward either by Council or any other submitter.
Hostility Towards the 11 NIMBY Councillors
The Herald and the Property Council have both stated their intentions towards both the Unitary Plan itself and the 11 NIMBY Councillors threatening to spanner the process by wanting to withdraw Council out of the Rezoning Hearings (as that is what withdrawing the Primary Evidence will do).
The Herald was more subtle in their Editorial this morning on how nerve must be held to see the Unitary Plan through:
Editorial: Unitary Plan needs nerve to see through
It is too easy to panic politicians in election year, particularly in local body elections where the turnouts are usually low. It is easy to fill a public hall on local issues that are close to people’s homes and may affect their property values, and it is easy for individual politicians to be persuaded that a packed hall represents a popular uprising.
That is what appears to have made some members of the Auckland Council change their minds at this late stage about the proposed Unitary Plan. Enough of them have changed their minds to give opponents of the plan a narrow majority if a vote was taken today.
The latest to have second thoughts, Sir John Walker, whose decision gives opponents 11 of the 20 council votes, says, “I’m on the residents’ side. I don’t want to see high-rise buildings towering over Auckland. I don’t trust the town planners. They present one thing and change their mind and do another.”
At the beginning of this long debate the council was justifiably criticised for trying to force the city’s growth upwards rather than outwards but that debate was resolved long ago when the council agreed Auckland’s projected population growth would require both.
Today, nobody is seriously against “intensification”, including those who say, Not In My Backyard. The irony of that view is that a great many so-called Nimbys have already built intensive housing in their backyards. Subdivisions of sections for the maximum density of dwellings physically possible has put paid to most of the lawns and gardens of yesteryear.
In the eastern suburbs, where residents packed a public meeting in Kohimarama last week, the concerns seem to be more about process than substance.
People are justifiably aggrieved that the planners have introduced elements at the eleventh hour that allow them no opportunity to object. They raise concerns about the capacity of their roads and drains to cope with population growth but the real concern seems to be buildings of three storeys. Sir John said, “They might not be very high but I wouldn’t want to live next to one.”
Plenty of us live next door to a double storey house without concern. But one more storey has the citizens in revolt, or so too many council members fear.
Let’s acknowledge the courage of those who are willing to defend the revised Unitary Plan and see it through. It may be easy enough for the mayor who is not seeking re-election, but not easy for Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse or council members Arthur Anae, Bill Cashmore, Linda Cooper, Chris Darby, Alf Filipaina and Calum Penrose. They have kept their nerve and put the city’s housing needs before their electoral safety.
Indeed I do send my thanks to Deputy Mayor Hulse and Councillors, Anae, Cashmore, Cooper, Darby, Filipaina, Penrose and Webster for both seeing the Unitary Plan through the Hearings process and putting the City before their own politics unlike the other 11.
But at the same time that Editorial looks like a not so subtle warning from the Government that it is watching and is reminding the City what is at stake. Given Minister Nick Smith’s intervention in Three Kings recently do the 11 Councillors really want to attract the attention the of the Government any further?
Now for the Property Council:
Local politicians politicising of Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan appalling
Property Council is appalled with Auckland councillors who have withdrawn their support to rezone Auckland suburbs with the capacity for more housing and apartments.
Auckland Branch President Phil Eaton says soaring house prices are creating systemic social injustice, inequity and major economic risk.
“Let’s be absolutely clear about this. The councillors who have withdrawn their support to rezone and upzone suburbs to allow for more houses have done so at the expense of Aucklanders, because they want to come back after the local elections.
“Now, Baby Boomers have essentially locked an entire generation out of their own homes. Young people and families will never be able to work and live in Auckland, and ‘Generation Rent’ is the legacy these councillors will leave behind.
The Auckland Plan sets out a 400,000 target over the next 30 years. Currently, there is a shortage of between 20,000-30,000 houses, and 13,000 news dwellings every year over this period. The current version of the PAUP only allows for about 95,000 of the required 400,000.
“We have always supported the Auckland Plan, which brought the vision. But a lack of leadership is rendering this Plan redundant as from the beginning, we raised concerns that the PAUP did not supports its targets and now councillors are not either.
“Recent detailed analysis by independent experts demonstrated the PAUP falling short of providing adequate supply of new dwellings and likely to only yield less than 30%. This is a stark shortfall that will leave us with continued house price escalation. “We desperately need to open up supply.
The market tells us we are not building what customers want. We need a wider range of housing choices to suit the changing demographic profile of Auckland over the next 15-20 years, including smaller homes in existing areas for both older and younger people.
“Local politicians must ditch their “Not in My Election Year” mentality and do what is right by all Aucklanders, not just some.” Scaremongering by local politicians has residents believing their suburbs will be covered in high-rise apartments, when realistically less than 6% of suburbs will have apartments with more than three storeys: up just 1% from the previous version of the PAUP.
“We need to fit a city the size of Wellington into Auckland over the next 15 years. While the recent process of up-zoning within the PAUP is flawed, its intent is right. But we need bolder and braver decisions to solve what is now an intergenerational legacy issue.
The Property Council were not as kind as the Herald was with their Editorial but they are right. Playing NIMBY now as we enter the Rezoning Hearings will damage the City for future generations to come. As I asked the Panel at the Centre Zones hearings last year: “Are we planning for yesterday, today, 10, 30 or 50 years ahead?” The NIMBY’s would plan for yesterday while I am looking at 50 years out.
None the less people, institutions and the media are getting more fed up by the 11 Councillors playing politics with the future of the City. If they keep going they might find themselves removed from the process entirely one way or the other…