Continued misrepresentations need to be corrected
This morning on Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon Program Auckland 2040 head Richard Burton continues to make false claims about what is going on with the Unitary Plan Rezoning Hearings soon to get under way.
You can hear the interview with Burton and Deputy Mayor Hulse below:
First of all Richard Burton asked a question on when would residents expect to be notified on changes to zones over their respective properties. The correct answers are:
- When the Council’s evidence comes out and everybody can go have a look at what Council is proposing (noting the zone has actually not changed yet)
- When a Public Plan Change kicks off seeking a change to the existing zones already in place (currently this process is not happening).
More of the rezoning here:
Changes in the Unitary Plan saw Auckland Council rezone about 20,000 houses without consulting property owners.
- The council has not rezoned a single property.
- At this stage the council is having input into an independent hearings process on the proposed Unitary Plan. The hearings process isn’t owned by the council; it’s run by an independent hearings panel and the council is a participant like all submitters.
- Auckland Council’s input includes some recommended changes to the plan. This takes into account feedback from around 4000 public submissions as well as guidance from the hearings panel.
- The council won’t even consider its final decisions on the Unitary Plan until after the hearings panel has reported back in July. The panel’s recommendations are not binding on councillors.
The key reason for the changes proposed is to ensure a more consistent approach to how housing zones are applied across Auckland. The same core principles still apply though – 75 per cent of residential zones will remain at 2 storeys or less, with more density around town centres and transport hubs.
Now given that Council like me are treated as submitters to the Unitary Plan Hearings what we put forward in our evidence might be accepted or rejected by the Panel when it sends its recommendations back to the Council in August-September. Once the new zone goes live I would expect notification and outlines on how to make appeals if applicable. But right now all Council has done is put forward a proposal like any other submitter including me and Housing New Zealand. Does Burton expect us to go notify everyone we have going a proposed a rezoning for?
One thing Burton and other NIMBY groups and Councillors do not make mention clearly at all is that Council is a submitter like all the other 9,400 submitters who filed a Primary Submission. There is also at least double that who also filed a Further Submissions for or against the Primary Submissions and/or including Council rebutting back against submitters as a form of right-of-reply allowed under the Resource Management Act. Now what the Council has put forward is no different to what any other submitter has put forward they wish to see in the Unitary Plan. At the end of the day the Panel considers all the evidence then sends recommendations back to the Governing Body of the Council. From there the Council either accepts or rejects the recommendations with recourse available to others including non-submitters either way (see: How Will Council Approach the Unitary Plan Hearings Panel Recommendations). In no way yet what the Council has put forward to the Panel in regards to rezoning is final! For more see here: Correcting Auckland 2040’s Unitary Plan befuddlement)
Furthermore when the Panel does come back with its recommendation to the Council in August there are three options it can take:
- Accept the level of intensification Council and some submitters have proposed
- Reject the level of intensification (in return for sprawl) Council wanted and some submitters would have proposed
- Reject the level of intensification Council and some submitters wanted and go for even MORE intensification as I and Housing New Zealand (as well as others) have called for
That above is the key crux of the matter. The Panel has the call in its recommendations and the Panel is fully independent of the Council (it is subservient to the Ministry for the Environment and Ministry of Local Government).
And yes Burton there are those out there like Housing New Zealand, Generation Zero, Transport Blog and myself that do call for more intensification across capable areas in Auckland.
As for those wanting a say now? Well if you did not submit in 2014 when the submissions were open I am sorry but out of luck. You should have submitted then whether for or against the zone that was above your property in 2013. That way in any subsequent proposals to change the zone you were able to submit evidence yourself on why you were for or against that proposal (as the submitters are doing now).
When submitters are writing their primary or rebuttal evidence against the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan zones or what Council or any other submitter has proposed there are some guiding principles we must follow when writing out evidence.
The first principle is set by the Unitary Plan Hearings Panel itself:
Council then proceeded to follow a principle born out of the the Topic 013 – Regional Policy Statement hearings using walking catchments to determine the residential zones:
Housing New Zealand in their submission wanted the catchments moved to about between 400 metres to one kilometre depending on the zone. Historically an 800 metre radius would be applied by Geographers like myself when applying higher density commercial or residential zones with a transit station being the focus of that 800 metre walk up catchment.
If you are up for some reading have a read of the Primary Evidence by Council senior planner Duguid on how Council has applied the methodology to the residential zones. Given submitters would use this methodology as a basis to their evidence either for or against Council’s own evidence having 11 wayward Councillors effectively withdraw Duguid’s evidence would be more than a pain in the backside to submitters and the Panel itself.
Because that is what Wednesday boils down to:
- 11 Councillors mucking around thousands of submitters who base their evidence on what Council proposes to the Panel (and have sent it in as it was due on the 10th)
- 11 Councillors mucking around the Panel as they have no Council evidence to look at when preparing their recommendations (as well as two weeks of hearings slots Council takes in making their case)
- 11 Councillors wasting the City’s time and money as the resources expended producing the Council evidence goes to waste. Given Cameron Brewer, Desley Simpson and Dick Quax bang on about Rates and waste withdrawing Council’s evidence out of pure politics would probably count as the biggest form of waste of Ratepayers resources out there
- And finally those 11 Councillors who would deny the City a voice at the Hearings which would happen if the vote does go through and Council is forced to withdraw its evidence (and subsequently itself) from the Rezoning Topic Hearings. Again you can thank Simpson, Brewer and Quax for the City being denied its voice!
So Wednesday, how will it fall?!