The Auckland Council is set to demand that the Government remove provisions from new legislation that would allow central planning and control of housing development in Auckland and potentially other regions.
The council has taken particular exception to "over-ride" provisions in the new Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Bill.
As interest.co.nz recently reported the bill gives the Government wide powers to designate certain areas for fast-track housing, and to approve such developments without any reference to the local council. See here for all our stories on the Auckland Housing Accord.
Housing Minister Nick Smith said on Radio New Zealand last week that there was no way the Government would be removing the new over-rule power it would give itself through the legislation.
“It is absolutely crucial. The Government cannot take on this massive issue and risk around house prices without those residual powers,” Smith said.
The legislation, which was rushed into Parliament after last month's Budget, is currently being considered by select committee.
In a draft submission that is to be considered by Auckland Council's Auckland Plan Committee tomorrow, the council says it "rejects" outright the clauses in the bill giving the Government the right to over-rule and intervene in the Auckland housing market "and requires that [the clauses] be deleted".
The accord agreed by the Government and the council would target 39,000 new homes within three years. However, the accord will not be ratified till it is approved by a full meeting of the council. This appears very unlikely at the moment.
If neither the Government nor the council backs down on their current positions then outright confrontation between central government and the largest local authority in the country seems inevitable.
In the meantime, question marks would hang over what would happen to address Auckland's current housing shortage, with estimates that about 30,000 homes are needed to make up for a shortfall in building that has seen only around 4000 houses a year built in recent times.
A further potential complication over the legislation is that the council's Independent Maori Statutory Board, which will also make submissions over the bill, has an issue with the fact that Maori were not consulted over the drafting of the Auckland Housing Accord.
"As a preliminary point, it is important to record that the IMSB was not involved in the development of the accord and this presents an issue in itself, which is still to be fully investigated and rectified," the board says in its draft submission.
The board makes a number of recommendations on the bill, including that there should be Maori representation on the governance and decision-making bodies under the accord and the bill.
Meanwhile the council itself has made an extensive list of recommendations for changes to the legislation, with the removal of the "over-rule" provisions being the most significant but by no means only major changes.
Other recommended changes include various issues around the RMA, introducing clauses into the bill requiring all the decisions enabled by it to give effect to the accord as well as the purpose of the bill and introduction of Auckland-specific provisions into the bill.
But the strongest words in the council draft submission are reserved for the over-ride clauses.
"These clauses do not respect the principles of local democracy or those that underlie the establishment of accord agreements," the submission says.
"...Accords are based on mutual trust and partnership between the parties involved. The over-ride provisions undermine this principle by making it impossible for councils to negotiate the terms of an accord on an equal footing with the Government.
"...Auckland Council therefore rejects these clauses outright and requires that they be deleted."