Resource Management Act Review suggests replacing Act with new Legislation Not long after the National Policy Statement – Urban Development was released by the Government, an independent report into replacing … Continue reading PODCAST: Replacing the Resource Management Act Take 2. Thoughts and those Spatial Plans
Creating fit for purpose legislation for our cities With the Election in full swing there is talk about replacing the Resource Management Act with some kind of Urban Planning legislation. … Continue reading PODCAST: Replacing the Resource Management Act with an Urban Environment and Building Act
Devil is in the detail Yesterday the National Party announced rather quietly that it would if re-elected it would move to create legislation specifically for urban planning taking it … Continue reading National Proposes Separate Urban Environment Legislation Away From Resource Management Act
Staving off those NIMBY’s After Environment Minister Nick Smith’s announcement on Resource Management Act reforms the debate has started off promptly. Of course there is many sides to … Continue reading A Key Detail of the Proposed RMA Reforms
Here We Go A Three Year Journey And so the Unitary Plan is now set for formal notification at the end of the month after the Governing Body via … Continue reading Unitary Plan Now going for Notification
From Friday to Monday
And Advancing Auckland from the 1950’s to the 1970’s
Friday was more tame day at the Unitary Plan proceedings with the day wrapping up at around 3pm. Unfortunately owing to the Residential Provisions being dragged out earlier, the proceedings are forced into the two reserve days (as mentioned in the Unitary Plan Updates – Day 3.1 post.
I am not going to do Councillors’ favourite trick and rehash everything from Friday. You can see the snippets of the day’s proceedings over at my Twitter page – @BenRoss_AKL and most of the amendments on my Talking Auckland Facebook page.
New Zealand Herald reporter Bernard Orsman finally did something right and actually got two good descriptions up of Friday’s proceedings. Again to save me doing a rehash and owing to the fact Orsman did it so well, check his two articles out by clicking on the respective links below
The resolutions that were moved on Friday were the:
- Public Open Space and Recreation
- Business Zones (which includes the Centres (Height in Centres is dealt with on Monday)
- City Centre (including Port of Auckland)
- Social Infrastructure
- Physical Infrastructure
While Orsman most of the above, two points were missed that caused a bit of noise and debate during those proceedings. One point was about Colin Maiden Park which is owned by the University of Auckland, the other was about Councillor Cameron Brewer’s Parking Minimums with the Mixed Housing Zone.
Colin Maiden Park
With the University of Auckland looking at moving from its Tamaki site to the Newmarket Site (old Lion Brewery site), there is debate about Colin Maiden Park which it owns. Under the Unitary Plan the site is zoned I believe Terrace Housing/Apartment. This means if the University of Auckland as the legal land holder of Colin Maiden Park (home to sports grounds including netball courts) could redevelop the land into Terraced Housing and or low-rise apartments.
Orakei Local Board nervous of this asked Council on Friday to rezone Colin Maiden Park into the Public Open Space and Recreation Zone – so that the park can stay as is once the University shifts.
Problem? Council can not do that (zone Public Open Space/Recreation) on privately held land without the agreement from that landholder. Effectively and essentially Auckland Council would have to seek agreement from the University of Auckland to zone Colin Maiden Park as open space – which means most likely a buy out.
Planner Penny Perrit outlined a landmark Environment Court Case between the old and now defunct Auckland City Council and the Dilworth Trust where that Council tried to put a open space zone over the Trust’s privately held land. A Court battle ensured and ruled that Council could not do that under the Resource Management Act 1991. The site is now home to the Dilworth Primary School.
So this is the issue Auckland Council and the Orakei Local Board would run into with Colin Maiden Park. Unless the University of Auckland agrees – and that will be most likely through a sell out, there will be no Open Space zone on Colin Maiden Park. Whichever way you see this – this is just reality.
Councillor Brewer’s Parking Minimums
Councillor Brewer under the Physical Infrastructure section had moved the following resolution:
Brewer/Stewart: “That in the Townhouse And Apartment Building Zone, there be a minimum parking requirement of at least one car-park per dwelling of two or more bedrooms, and in both the Mixed Housing Urban and Suburban zones there be a minimum of one park for studios and one bedrooms as is proposed, and at least two car-parks as a minimum for any new dwelling two bedrooms or more (not three bedrooms as is proposed) to help mitigate increasing car numbers and on-street parking problems .”
It was defeated 6-14 by the Auckland Plan Committee – so a Super Majority (over 67%).
When this amendment was being debated I literally was flooding Twitter with the happenings of the debate as well as my own thoughts. Unlike Councillor Brewer who does not quite no what Neo Liberalism means (as he fesses to be one), I do know what Social Liberalism is and will adhere to it on my beliefs – especially around planning and the economy.
In defeating Councillor Brewer’s Parking Minimum amendment by a Super Majority Level what had happened was that Auckland had taken another step advancing from the 1950s to the 1970’s (I did mean 21st Century but as someone pointed out on Twitter, the 1970s was more apt given the circumstances on Friday, and also how far Auckland has to go to reach the 21st Century)
What I might do is an expose on my planning values that are Social Liberal and how it influences my thoughts around the Unitary Plan.
For the moment though I have some light reading from my opposite number in the USA:
- For something with pedestrians seeming Auckland is still addicted to cars:
Monday the Auckland Plan Committee looks at; Heritage (another potential dragger like the Residential provisions), ‘Heights in Centres’ and the Rural Urban Boundary. I won’t be present at Council tomorrow as I will be knuckling down on a project for the next couple of weeks. However I will keep tabs on the All About Auckland video feed and post any major happenings on Twitter when they happen.
September 5 draws close though folks as the Governing Body will decide whether to send the Unitary Plan for formal Notification or not.
- Auckland Council meets to thrash out Unitary Plan (nzherald.co.nz)
- Unitary Plan Updates – Day 2 (voakl.net)
- Unitary Plan Updates – Day 3.1 (voakl.net)
- Auckland’s Unitary Plan moves closer to reality (stuff.co.nz)
- Auckland Council to tackle housing density issue (nzherald.co.nz)
- Professor Glaeser and the Unitary Plan (voakl.net)
What Does Section 4 of the Unitary Plan Mean?
Section Four of the Unitary Plan is arguably the most important part of the entire Unitary Plan. Section Four contains all the RULES and definitions of those rules that are seen in the Unitary Plan – and also does one’s head in on the way out. One has to remember that the Unitary Plan is a document based on our Resource Management Act 1991 and subsequent amendments as they come from Wellington. What activities are permitted, controlled, restricted discretionary, discretionary, non complying and prohibited are all spelt out in the Unitary Plan and the definitions provided in the RMA.
Unfortunately the RMA is a cumbersome document (I have a copy here at home) and could be easily one of three (what I call) pieces of super legislation New Zealand have. By super legislation I mean it is beyond thick as a brick in size, has language that would baffle most people and has the greatest effect on most ordinary citizens’ lives. Of course the other two pieces of super legislation that we all love to have would be Tax Law and ACC 😛
With a cumbersome document like the RMA comes an equally as cumbersome document we know as the Unitary Plan. At what ever pages thick and language that will leave 99% of the city befuddled (paraphrasing Orakei Local Board Chair Desley Simpson) you can see why residents and business might get upset with the Unitary Plan.
Where am I going with this?
Recently there was a major outcry on Mixed Housing Zones and what was entailed with them. In short as it has always been with a MHZ you can build a two storey (eight metre) house as of right – it is a permitted activity under most existing plans and the upcoming Unitary Plan. Where things get interesting is that you can build a three storey (10 metre) high house (not quite sure you can do Walk Up apartments though) providing you meeting the resource consent and urban design controls in place. This is because such an activity is classified as a Discretionary Restricted Activity per the RMA. Again this piece was already in most existing plans and is again in the upcoming Unitary Plan. So nothing different per se.
I believe what might have people “interested” is what does Restricted Discretionary Activity mean? In the Unitary Plan and as set out in the RMA it means:
18.104.22.168 Restricted discretionary activities
Resource consent is required for a restricted discretionary activity. Council may approve or decline a proposal for a restricted discretionary activity. The Unitary Plan specifies the matters over which council has restricted its discretion. Council’s consideration of the proposal, and the ability to refuse the application and impose conditions, is restricted to these matters.
The Unitary Plan uses this approach where it is possible to limit discretion to specific effects associated with an activity or development, which need to be assessed.
A permitted activity as a comparison is:
22.214.171.124 Permitted activities
Resource consent is not required for a permitted activity if it complies with all the relevant rules in the Unitary Plan. The Unitary Plan uses this approach to provide for activities to be carried out as of right, provided certain controls are met. If an activity does not comply with one or more of the relevant controls it is not a permitted activity. In those instances the activity will fall into one of the activity categories below and will require resource consent.
The RMA permits certain existing land uses, which were lawfully established, to continue despite contravening a rule in the Unitary Plan. These activities have existing use rights, but must satisfy the provisions outlined in s. 10 and s. 20A of the RMA.
It is the responsibility of the person claiming existing use rights to demonstrate they comply with the relevant sections of the RMA.
Certificates of Compliance (CoC)
An application can be made to council to obtain a CoC for a permitted activity. A CoC certifies that the development is fully complying. Section 139 of the RMA outlines the role of consenting authorities and environmental protection agencies in issuing CoCs. A CoC is treated as if it was a resource consent.
To provide the relevant Section Four material and what activities are what to the five residential zones I have these embeds
4.1 General Provisions
4.3.1 Residential Zones
And the Mixed Housing Zone document which all the Councillors and Local Board members have sitting in their email boxes but have not publicly released to their communities. The document is a public document and meant to be discussed with residents and businesses
Now from here a two prong situation arises.
First is that I do not like Restricted Discretionary Activities as it gives a central planner too much power away from the community. Yes we have to weigh up private property rights of the individual but for activities to be lugged under the RDA class means there is going to be more than a minor impact and those in the immediate vicinity might want to be notified. You know – a no surprises policy. The Centralised Master Community Plan and Semi-Liberal Plan District methodologies I am working on would restore a more community based approach to planning and assist a no surprises policy.
Second Prong is that the language in Section Four is a total dog and will do anyone’s head in. It even does my head in and I am supposedly clued up with planning, the RMA and the Unitary Plan. If the “planners” language is confusing people on what can actually happen in a Mixed Housing Zone then I don’t blame them for their confusion.
While this might need a rewrite of the RMA itself, maybe Council could to simplify the language their end and run a traffic light system for the class of activities followed by basic plain English of each of the lights/categories. Example:
- Green: Permitted Activities
- Yellow: Controlled Activities (usually activities that produce emissions or other pollutants that can be controlled); and Restricted Discretionary Activities (more relevant to residential zones and their subsequent activities)
- Orange: Discretionary Activities
- Red: Non Complying Activities
No need to mention Prohibited Activities as that is usually controlled by Central Government and often refers to things either toxic or nuclear in nature.
With a traffic light set up followed by basic plain English definitions if someone was to engage on an activity within one of the five residential zones; the citizen in question might have an easier time understand the rules and not be so confused.
I might work on simplifying and setting up a Traffic Light kind of system for the Unitary Plan but, not until after my submission is handed in by May 31.
In saying that; a well-informed citizen equipped with the knowledge and an understandable plan is a happy citizen. The opposite is a confused and angry citizen.
Maybe Council needs to work on its English in the Unitary Plan a bit better. Oh and lots of pictures – for pictures speak a thousand words (and save paper 😛 )
Talking Auckland: Blog of TotaRim Consultancy Limited
Bringing Well Managed Progress to Auckland and The Unitary Plan
Auckland: 2013 – YOUR CITY, YOUR CALL
And Don’t Pick a Misrepresented Image of my Home Either When an email lands in your box at 6am in the morning alerting to you a Unitary Plan article … Continue reading Debunking Orsman – Again and Again
The Housing Accord is an Affront to Auckland
The debate on the Housing Accord and Special Housing Areas is still happening live in Parliament as I wrote this. But the Government is bringing through the Legislative processes with the Housing Accord and Special Housing Area material announced today in Budget 2013.
I have posted my swift reactions against the Housing Accord and Special Housing Areas in my “THE MUCH-ADO-ABOUT-NOTHING ACCORD” and “HOUSING ACCORD RELEASED” posts. Today I noted this in regards to the Housing Accord:
“If passed, the Bill will allow the Government to intervene in instances where accord cannot be reached in establishing special housing areas and issuing consents for developments.”
I have noted the Mayor (Len) has also released his comments on the Housing Accord and the SHA’s:
Auckland Mayor Len Brown has welcomed the introduction of legislation for housing accords, but says he will be seeking clarification on a number of points to ensure the final legislation is consistent with the draft Auckland Housing Accord.
“There are clauses in the bill introduced today that appear to be inconsistent with the Auckland Housing Accord,” says Len Brown.
“My expectation is that the Select Committee process will provide an opportunity to clear up these inconsistencies.
“Clearly, in relation to the accord, the point of the legislation is to give effect to the agreements we reached.
“The accord still needs to be considered and agreed by the Auckland Council’s Governing Body. Before we can do this we need to be certain that the legislation is consistent with the agreements in the accord.
Len Brown said he would be writing to Housing Minister Nick Smith to raise questions about the consistency of the accord and the current bill.
The Housing Accord is an agreement between Auckland Mayor Len Brown and the Minister of Housing aimed at tackling issues of housing affordability and supply in Auckland.
It is subject to agreement by Auckland Council.
The streamlined consenting process outlined in the accord can only take effect once the council’s draft Unitary Plan is adopted for notification – expected to be September this year.
To me however, I see this as direct attack on Council Sovereignty and the Auckland region. My reasons are made very clear in my previous posts mentioned above (and with links provided) on why I see the Accord as an attack on Council Sovereignty. The further point made and illustrated in bold from TVNZ provides the fish-hook that makes my view clear on this attack from Wellington.
I also note my earlier comment on our planning history here in Auckland:
Of note that the National Government in the 90s decentralised planning and removed itself largely from it with the introduction of the Resource Management Act 1991. This would replace the Town and Country Act and hand over to Councils primary planning powers. Now in 2013 a National Government is seeming to want to re-centralise planning powers away from Councils with its Much-Ado-About-Nothing Accord – the Housing Accord.
Impinging on Council Sovereignty – A Stalinist Move, not a (Social and (Neo)) Liberal move that the Party was founded on in 1936
So the remark made a few days ago especially to Monty Python and Fish Slapping continues:
The heavy questioning will continue until all the straight answers are given about the Much-Ado-About-Nothing Accord and those Special Housing Areas that are satisfactory to the city – something we are not getting at the moment if the Facebook comments are anything to go by. I wonder if that is because there is no satisfactory answer to a process that is:
- Rough-shodding the Unitary Plan Process
- Short circuiting the Rural Urban Boundary process still under consideration and consultation (and being treated separate to the full Unitary Plan)
- Does not answer about provision of employment centres that can not be expanded nor built until the Unitary Plan is in operation anyhow (so three years?)
- Relate back to infrastructure provisions that Council can not provide for (more broke than the girls from 2 Broke Girls) not has a decent plan on (the Auckland Transport Integrated Transport Plan failure)
- And how does this make things affordable when there are five major prongs to housing affordability:
- Construction Costs
- Council Fees and Contributions
- Financing and wages
- Infrastructure provision
Ah dear – some people should honestly not meddle in things beyond their comprehension (Dr Nick Smith and might as well be the entire Government at this rate). As for the Councillors backing the Much-Ado-About-Nothing-Accord I invite you to Karaka tonight and listen in on what could very well happen in a Special Housing Area and how that has upset residents from all sides of the divide…
In conclusion? More Monty Python Fish Slapping still to come
And yes even as a Nat Party member I see the Accord as an affront to my home, my city and to liberal ideals…