Council re-submits Auckland Unitary Plan to Independent Hearings Plan with rules allowing higher density housing closer to CBD; includes removing rule banning redevelopment of all pre-1944 homes

Council re-submits Auckland Unitary Plan to Independent Hearings Plan with rules allowing higher density housing closer to CBD; includes removing rule banning redevelopment of all pre-1944 homes
Ockham Residential's Turing building apartment development opened in November 2014 at 2 Ariki St in Grey Lynn

By Bernard Hickey

The Auckland Unitary Plan looks set to be 're-densified' to include rules that would allow the development of more high quality and affordable apartments and townhouses closer to the CBD.

The Auckland Council has re-submitted its proposed Unitary Plan rules to the Independent Hearings Panel in a so-called 'tracked changes' document, which updates the draft plan with the Council's suggested changes and responses to submissions.

It shows, and Mayor Len Brown and Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse confirm, that the revised proposal removes a previous blanket ban on redeveloping sections with houses built before 1944, which is often described as a heritage overlay.

They also confirm it re-introduces a controversial clause allowing no limit to the density of apartments on sections greater than 1,200 square metres in some areas.

This rule was stripped from a 2013 version of the plan after a revolt by some home-owners in leafy suburbs surrounding the CBD such as Ponsonby, Grey Lynn, Epsom, Mt Eden and Remuera/Parnell, as well as on the North Shore.

"We're wanting to see greater potential for density in a wider area of suburbs than what we saw in the draft," Brown told Interest at the Local Government New Zealand conference in Rotorua.

Brown said the Council had listened to the comments from the Government, the Reserve Bank and others about the need to build more houses in denser developments to improve affordability.

"For a modern city, it's a lot, lot cheaper to develop with height," he said.

Hulse, who is chairing the Council's Development Committee that is in charge of Unitary Plan, said the Council wanted to encourage high quality developments, pointing to those championed by Mark Todd at Ockham Residential as examples.

"We want density done well," Hulse told Interest at the LGNZ conference.

"Density can bring vibrancy to our suburbs, just as people see when they travel overseas," she said.

Hulse said the two main changes related to the 1944 overlay and the 'no density rule', which was voted down in Council in mid-2013 when the draft Plan was first proposed.

She said there would be tight urban design rules around the 'no density rule,' which allows more intense developments in suburbs on sections that were greater than 1,200 square metres. She said the Council would look to step up it's 'triage' of suburbs with pre-1944 homes to look for those individual properties with specific features that would justify heritage classification, rather than have a blanket overlay.

Hulse acknowledged the changes would be controversial, but some older residents who had been opposed to apartment developments in 2013 were coming around to the view they wanted high quality apartments and townhouses to retire to in their area once they sold the traditional family villa or bungalow on a section.

The Government, the Productivity Commission and the Reserve Bank have all called for Auckland's Unitary Plan to allow greater density to address a housing shortage in Auckland that is already around 30,000 homes and forecast by the Commission to rise to 60,000 houses by 2020.

The Independent Hearings Panel is hearing submissions from the Council and other interested parties and will recommend a final version of the Plan back to Council next year.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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22 Comments

Well thank god for that. If National are going to make Auckland bend over and spread for their grandiose immigration plans it's foolish to be pushing high density housing to the outskirts.

All the council needs to do is immediately alter the rules for the Res 6a and Res 5 zone to permit section sizes of 200m2 or 250m2 and that will instantly allow the creation of thousands of sections across Auckland. However not even this will solve the supply problem unless the tap is turned off on migration or at least remove the category where investing in a property at $1m or more is a key criteria for gaining residency.

What is the point of building a freestanding house on a 200m2 section? Just terrace them or build apartments.

xelnaga, you are not considering the thrills of looking at all your neighbours' bedroom, kitchen and bathrooms from a distance of only 2m! Why else would you avoid building something that makes much more sense than cardboard boxes on 200 sqm? Not to mention the free party music you get...

Don't forget the toilet flushing at 2am above you as the curry digested after 10 pints of lager takes effect.

Insurance is one reason why being detached is a huge advantage (ask Chch unit owners!), as is having to deal with any maintenance issues as leaky unit owners will let you know.

Detached also has advantages for future redevelopment and renovation, sound proofing, daylighting etc etc.

As we get closer to the next council elections they will probably change their minds again!

Henny Pulse, Deputy Squawker for the Associated Cluckfusters Collective, is all a’flutter about the proposed re-densification changes to the One Plan to Rule Them All (Optrta)

Your humble scribe interviewed her on the background. Henny, resplendent in polished wattles and her customary bright pink legband, was positively crowing about the proposals.
‘As you know’, she intoned, ‘we already have an Optrta. It’s taken years and years and a whole lotta pellets kindly supplied by our ever-giving funders, to get this to the starting point. We have a whole team devoted to it, the grey-leg-banded ones. We call them the ClusterFlock.’
Your scribe reminded Henny that the previous Cluckfusters had turned down a very similar proposal just two years ago, right on the eve of the Perch Priority Contest to establish the new pecking order. Worried about the possibility of Falling off the Perch altogether, the assorted CluckFusters had caved to the NIMBY and BANANA types who infest the Greater Collective Catchment.
‘Why’, she warbled, ‘there just hasn’t been enough thought given to the working poor and those who need to get their tiny claws on the first rung of the Ladder to Permanent Perchdom, not to mention laying the odd Egg or three in a Suitable Nesting-Box.’
‘So, with Greater Density, there will be the opportunity for More Perches, Collective Warmth, and the growth of Nested-together Community. Win-win-win, I say, what, What, what, what?’
Assuming the royal ‘we’, we then asked Henny why this apparently simple approach had not been adopted years, nay, Decades ago.
‘Oh, that’, she waved an arm dismissively. ‘Well, as you will be aware, we now have a Team of Henconomists who have clucked around with this notion, subjected it to Henpirical Tests (I think that’s the phrase), and have advised us of their findings.’
‘It seems that restricting the supply of Nesting Boxes, and making onerous conditions about their Appearance, Size, Cladding and Colour, has caused a rare phenomehen they are terming Henflation, and has thereby condemned a whole generation of hatchings to nesting under bridges and at the top of power poles – all Elfin Safety Hazards in the Extreme.’
‘Therefore we are determined, after more, careful Henconomic Research, to put a stop to this in the Interests of the Wider Flock’.
Your scribe then reminded Henny that the rare phenomehen had already caused Nesting-Box prices, ezxpressed in terms of years of pellets per annum, to rise way above 8 years’ supply: in the Severely UnHenFordable range. And what did she propose to do about That, having virtually admitted that there was, whodathunk, a link between Planning and price?
‘Well, nothing immediate’, Henny replied. ‘We might have Caused this, well, Partly, but we will have to rely on the Sage Advice of our Henconomists and Planners to get ourselves out of this’.
‘Now, sorry, must fly, there’s Perch Contest soon and I wanna be Head Hen for once’, and so she departed, leaving your faithful scribe to ponder why it was that the very same flock who had propelled us Into all this schemozzle, were gonna be relied upon to get us Out…..

eggsactly.

I always love reading what u write Waymad.... but jeez.... its' like reading a new language when reading your new style of writing...
I prefer the plain english style...
I think I got the gist of it..... Local bodies should get the cluck out of here !

gotta be said...Do I give a flock?

Hooray! We are needing and getting "VIBRANCY", apparently

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hang on brown told us that he is listening to the people of auck. now hes listening to the govt and reserve bank.

Brown listens. Brown says that the message is very clear. Brown says that he wants the most liveable city. Brown says that he wants to get Auckland moving. Brown says that Aucklanders have made it very clear that the rail tunnel is the highest priority (yeah right). After increasing the variable rates out of sight, Brown says that he saw scope for an increase in the uniform annual charge. Brown says that Aucklanders wanted to pay extra for public transport (should have been core business in my view). Brown got his increase in uniform annual charge by slight of hand.
Brown won. The rates are now absoultely huge for both expensive and inexpensive properties. Yey Brown.
Bye bye Brown

Another Brown / Hulse flip flop special. Still, a good thing. They should have shown more backbone in the first place. Have they seen the light yet on having more granny flats etc? Can we see the new version somewhere on line or have they just tabled it at the hearing?

I've found the council's material on the website. And despite the tenor of the article above, there actually are a whole lot of backwards steps in the council's changes. For example, a multi unit development of three rather than four units will trigger a consent. Plus the good rule they had about converting an existing house to two units has now come with more draconian conditions eg. The two units have to remain in same ownership. Oh dear

Oh dear where do I stop.lots of bad changes. Another one - site coverage being reduced in Mixed Housing Suburban Zone from 40 to 35 per cent.

I might be wrong but it looks like they have struck through all density controls? If so They have gone further than what Bernard says above in terms of no density rules on site bigger than 1200 sq m.
If I am right then this is a good thing. They can rely on other controls to adequately address amenity. Any other thoughts on this? I'm looking at the Hearings page on the Internet, 'Upcoming Hearings' and topics 059, 060, 062, 063, and the Council's proposed marked up version uploaded 17 July.

Yes well spotted and of course it is still about command and control and the money

To quote Hulse, 'would be tight urban design rules around the 'no density rule,' Read you won't be able to do anything without a lot of expensive (income) bureaucracy

And Brown has chimed in with this gem, "For a modern city, it's a lot, lot cheaper to develop with height," which we all know is only true to if the City already has a modern pre paid waste water system with plenty of extra capacity, and which we further know Auckland does not have.

Brown further comments ' more high quality and affordable apartments and townhouses closer to the CBD' and 'need to build more houses in denser developments to improve affordability.'

High quality and more affordable on the back of the present existing low quality and expensive is not going to happen JUST because you change the zoning, and denser housing as any developer will tell you does not make housing more affordable on a like for like basis. In fact it makes it far more expensive.

The council are going to revenue this for all its worth. These changes have nothing to do with making housing truly affordable.

Going to need the subway mains defined before they put in the bigger scrapers.

Interesting article in City Journal - the real intention of shopping malls. RTWT, but shurely there are lessons for Squawkland's Unitary Plan. http://www.city-journal.org/2015/eon0716mh.html

Because, as a moment's reflection will confirm, Zoning causes Commuting....