More and More Cold Towards the 11 NIMBY Councillors Concerning the #UnitaryPlan

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:

Unitary Plan Legislation
Unitary Plan Legislation


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…


Manukau Unitary Plan ammended res zones evidence
Manukau Unitary Plan amended res zones evidence


6 thoughts on “More and More Cold Towards the 11 NIMBY Councillors Concerning the #UnitaryPlan

  1. The two issues are not incompatible. Democratic involvement is essential. While a number of vocal objectors are nimbyish it is not fair to label 2040 as such.

    They don’t appear to me to be objecting to intensification as such. They like Dusko are highlighting the poor quality of the UP process and the undemocratic nature of the Council’s late submission. On top of that a wide range of opinion is highlighting the risks of low quality intrusive development. And of intensification where transport and other infrastructure and services are a problem.

    The fact that the government is weighing in behind a bad process does negate these issues.

    Intensification and greenfield development need to be comprehensively thought through. Not left to the vagaries of the market to pepper pot crowded sleep factories into suburbs people care about.

    A solution would lie with Council staying the course with its last minute submission but adding the rider that it must not be implemented as part of the first UP. But that it should be subject to a democratic well planned process in a second phase.

    With the Council currently farming out application processes to Councils across the country we don’t need to rush into more intensification. We do need to urgently address affordable housing. But we must make haste wisely.

    Affordable housing must be livable. It must not intensify congestion, ugliness or more overflowing sewers in our urban streams.

    Let’s work rationally to achieve affordable housing AND livable quality.

  2. Ben, while it may be that ‘more and more’ powers-that-be are ‘cold’ towards the 11 ‘disobedient’ councillors, it also seems that local democracy in Auckland is suddenly showing a ‘warm’ glow.
    The 11 councillors are listening to their constituencies. What’s wrong with that?
    Shall we now bully them (as Christine Fletcher has complained)?
    This is Auckland, not Pyongyang.
    Even the Herald’s editorial (otherwise not very intelligent today, in its shallow argument) admits that the ‘procedure has been very messy’ and that the residents have been ‘justifiably aggrieved’.
    So what’s Heralds’ problem?
    The fact that more and more councillors are hearing the communities that elected them?
    Instead of celebrating the news that local democracy is alive in the super-city, and praising the councillors who changed their mind under pressure from their constituencies, the Herald editorial insults them by calling them ‘panicking’.
    Instead of questioning the degree and the location of the intensification proposed by the sneaky up-zoning attempt, and criticising the process which amounts to ‘eleventh hour [decision with] no opportunity to object’, the Herald editorial praises the councillors who stubbornly support the ill-conceived plan.
    What a joke of an editorial.
    It is perhaps forgivable that a newspaper editor does not understand matters of urban design and planning (this is – why, how and where intensification should be applied) but it is unforgivable that this editor ignores the free will and the right to political choice of Auckland’s citizens and their elected representatives.
    As for the Property Council reaction – why don’t they sack the Council and run the super-city themselves?
    The Herald does not understand a fundamental thing – it is one thing to agree that a city needs to grow both up and out and therefore accept that some intensification is necessary and desirable, but it is quite another to get the ratio horribly wrong (70:40%), and force most of that ‘70%’ into the wrong places (that is, without a coherent strategy).
    This is – in a nutshell – why the Akl Plan will never become a reality.
    The sooner we all agree that the ‘compact city’ concept was a really stupid idea and start working on something far more realistic AND desirable – a linear, regionally polycentric Auckland – the better for all of us, including the Property Council.

    1. Going to disagree on the first half Dushko as those 11 are only listening to a very small vocal majority. So the Herald and the Government have a right to call them right back out.

      The Property Council presser was right on the button on the behaviour of the 11 wayward Councillors who are more thinking of their jobs than the City especially when due process per the Legislation the Government itself wrote is being followed. So if people have a concern take it to the Government (as I have often challenged Fletcher).

      As for City geography and layout? We can discuss that as the Minister begins to develop the National Policy Statement – Urban Development paper.

  3. They can object all they want, however Nick Smith, Bill English, Andrew Little & Philip Twyford will come down on them like the wrath of Zeus if they seriously try it.

  4. I read a really good article in the paper on Sunday. Mentioned that for cities to survive and feel alive they need to exhibit progress through construction and change etc. When people see changes in urban form that has been bought about by growth demands they feel excited and alive. When a city grinds to a halt and does not change in appearance, shape and form people become bored and leave. The city centre is a perfect example of this…the growth in the city centre has occurred due to the revitalisation of it’s core centres (Wynyard Q, rear lanes etc). In essence, what was once a dead and deserted city centre now feels alive and has recently been awarded the fastest growing area of Auckland.

    For our city (and our younger generations) to prosper we need to encourage growth and support intensification. If we stick with status quo like all the nimbys want us to, our younger generations will leave and Auckland will die.

    The question I pose to all is how many people below the age of 25 would vote against intensification of our inner-city suburbs. Intensification which gives them the opportunity of not only being able to secure a job but being able to afford a home. I suspect the answer would be none.

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