Auckland Council decides to withdraw 'up-zoned' version of Unitary Plan from Independent Hearing Panel process; Councillors vote 13-8 to pull new 'denser' maps from Unitary Plan process; young renters pitted against old property owners in 6 hour meeting

Auckland Council decides to withdraw 'up-zoned' version of Unitary Plan from Independent Hearing Panel process; Councillors vote 13-8 to pull new 'denser' maps from Unitary Plan process; young renters pitted against old property owners in 6 hour meeting

By Bernard Hickey

The Auckland Council has voted 13-8 to withdraw its 'densified' and 'up-zoned' maps it had presented in December as evidence to the Independent Hearings Panel on the Auckland Unitary Plan, throwing the Government's supply-led strategy to address Auckland's housing shortage into disarray.

A fractious six hour meeting included submissions from residents associations in East Auckland opposed to the maps, and from Youth Councillors arguing for the maps, which would have allowed three storey townhouses and apartments in an extra 6% of Auckland. Proponents for the maps said more intensification was needed to address Auckland's housing affordability problems, while opponents said the changes in December were made without consulting affected residents and denied natural justice for affected parties.

No final decisions on the Unitary Plan have been made, but it sets a precedent for the ultimate vote expected in August. The Panel, which was appointed by the Government, is expected to recommend a new Unitary Plan in late July and the Council then has 20 working days to make decision on whether to accept the plan. The Council will then be weeks away from elections in September and October and the vote late on Wednesday night came after a revolt by home owners around Mission Bay, Glendowie and Kohimarama.

Councillors Alf Filipaina, Arthur Anae, Bill Cashmore, Linda Cooper, Penny Webster, Calum Penrose, Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse and Mayor Len Brown and voted to keep the 'denser' maps in front of the IHP.

Councillors Cathy Casey, John Watson, Wayne Walker, Christine Fletcher, Dick Quax, Sharon Stewart, John Walker, Denise Krum, Chris Darby, George Wood, Cameron Brewer, Mike Lee and Ross Clow voted to withdraw the 'denser' maps from the IHP.

A group of experts assembled by the IHP estimated the 'old' Unitary Plan proposed in 2013 after another residents revolt would only sustain an extra 80,000 to 180,000 houses at economically viable levels within the Auckland Counci's Metropolitan Urban Limit. This would be 100,000 to 200,000 houses short of the 280,000 forecast to be needed within the limits by 2040 because of expected population growth of up to one million people by then.

The six hour meeting in the Auckland Town Hall was packed with attendees spilling out into the halls and with little room left for even standing attendees.

The meeting began at 2 pm with comments from Mayor Len Brown and then introductory remarks by Auckland Council's Director of Regulatory Services Penny Pirrit and its General Manager of Plans and Places John Duguid. They said a decision to withdraw the December maps from the evidence, which have the 'out of scope' changes objected to by opponents, would disrupt the IHP process. Pirrit, who was heckled throughout by a group of residents supporting the Auckland 2040 group, said a withdrawal would have legal and practical consequences for the process.

Duguid said Housing New Zealand had proposed even more intense development than the Council had proposed in December and Council withdrawing from the process would leave that proposal unchallenged by the Council in front of the IHP.

Eight groups of speakers were than invited to speak to the Council, with four in favour and four against.

Labour Party Mayoral candidate Phil Goff later came down on the side of those opposed to the 'up-zoned' plan, tweeting: "Poor process and poor communication has undermined greater intensity done well. Breach of natural justice principle has sunk the draft plan."

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?

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.

69 Comments

15
up

Jeepers. Utterly short sighted, and devastating for the future of our city.

10
up

Yes the government has been with its migration policy, this was always going to happen.

16
up

Indeed, the question on restricting demand was never considered by this government - they are too fixated on immigration assisting the GDP while ignoring the static / falling GDP / capita.
Immigrants building houses for immigrants building houses......
Kiwis so dumb lah !!

Where are the 51,831 people (per year coming to Auckland) going to live?

Live?

Didn't you know - AKL is one of the most LIVEABLE cities in the whole wide world

There will be a underworld city of Auckland.. Len Brown has started the digging!

So... just like any other decision made by a local council anywhere in the country?

Aucklands dying

They do not come more denser than Awklanders. Most of em think they are sitting pretty.

But, it was heaven below the Bombays..until a few escaped, with the Laundry money and cleaned up, elsewhere. Spoiled it for everyone....now.

And now we are all getting a bit denser...must be something in the water...

Laundry Deterent...anybody?..Detergent ain't working, dirty loot everywhere now.?

Filthy lucre....some sticks....some bank on it.

Our beautiful city with its volcanic cones, harbours, bush ranges and beaches is rated as one of the best on the planet, maybe one of the best in the entire Universe. We regularly get into the top ten of any survey. You have to pay for quality, there's no escaping that.

When supply and demand balanced pre-2003 then the same city was affordable to all

if we get GFC mark 2 you wont have to worry about supply and demand, they will be plenty for sale at knock down prices and no buyers

Surprise, surprise, council elections looming so no wonder they back tracked. Next year we have government elections and you can be sure that the government will also hold back on this plan. Election cycle needs to be four years otherwise nothing will be done about the Unitary Plan.

Meanwhile house prices will continue to rise.

Very strong results in the Barfoots auction room today with one incredible outcome being 33 Croydon in Mt Eden sold for $3,150,000 www.barfoot.co.nz/562247
15 of the first 20 offered at the 1.30pm session sold many well above what was paid for them previously.
Looks like the Auckland market has fired up again.

Wow, that's almost 1.2 million over CV. What I saw of the morning auction seemed to go well also. You do have to pay a lot for a house in the best area of one of the best cities in the world.

I think the label "one of the best cities in the world to live in" has gone to the heads of a few Auckland people........do you actually know what the people who run these surveys are looking at when they undertake these rankings? For instance the Economist Intelligence Unit ranks levels of crime, conflict, medical care, levels of censorship, transport schools etc..........well guess what Zachary most of those issues ranked actually apply to the whole of NZ not just Auckland.

Auckland is nothing more than a pocket handkerchief on the world scene....it doesn't punch above its weight on any economic scale internationally so I would suggest that it runs on nothing more than hype!!

What are you on about mate? You're comment has nothing to do with the article.

I smell a rat...

The council will never accept the plan three weeks out from the elections. The entire group of councillors are bumbling fools

Regardless, plenty more houses will be able to be built if they stick with the 200sqm section size requirement for Mixed Housing Suburban.

"As an example last year we had a client purchase close to $100 million worth of property with cash."
Should John Bolton not have reported this client to the authorities?
https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/business/one-client-purchased-100m-worth...

Obviously he knows he's legally safe and he's simply clipping the ticket. Probably the best game in a city like Auckland.

He was buying for a consortium and didn't use us as he wasn't borrowing anything. Money came in from overseas.

I use the term 'client' loosely as we did end up helping him/them borrow some funds down the track on a property development. Point being you can buy property with cash and not go through AML. (If they borrowed, it would have at least gone through bank AML processes.) Cash buying of property is loop hole and glad its getting fixed.

When we did the lending on the development, we didn't have to validate the source of wealth for the Lender as they already owned the land. That's the bit I found weird and why I thought it was a relevent example.

Love news soundbites. All news is good news : )

How can you get $100 million cash into NZ property without it touching the sides of a bank?

Unless it is electronically wired directly into the Real Estate Agents Bank account

Don't the new Bank and IRD requirements overcome that?
Was the transaction prior to 1 October 2015?
Or, were he/she able to bypass those?

I think in banking terms, cash usually refers to money not sourced through a loan. So paid off in full, no debts owing.
There is not a self respecting (ay, there's the rub) Bank in the world which will allow (or would have on premises) 100mio of hard cash withdrawal.
So 100mio cash means the buyer had the 100mio as liquid money, ready to be transferred, no loan approval hold up.

Stupid council have kind of forced the government's hand really. I expect even greater density than the maps that were rejected being recommended by the panel, and I expect the government to inform the council that they must either accept the panel's recommendation or have their powers stripped off them.

Yes, even greater intensification was what the Housing NZ submission wanted - and then see BE's comments today on the rising cost of accommodation supplements (he said 60% of all private rentals are receiving some amount of that subsidy!). And then there's the keen desire by CG to increase earnings from overseas students - 'education and tourism' are the present catch cry when trying to talk down the dairy downturn;

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=1159...

10
up

Come on the 'rest of NZ', where is your Anti-Auckland moaning when its really needed? Forget the city rail link, Auckland Transport has estimated $90k per sprawl house just for transport costs. 200,000 odd houses needed in the next 15 years, that's $20 billion, probably mostly coming from the government as the council can't pay for much of that.
All so a few privileged people in multi million dollar houses can force people to live closer and closer to Hamilton rather than near them.

17
up

Just another reason for our youth to build their lives elsewhere.

The baby boomers were given so much by the welfare state. And for the past three decades they've been pulling the ladder up behind them.

13
up

Last week I drove from Ponsonby to Whangamata. It took me 2 and a half hours to get to the Bombay service station to fill up. All up it took me 4 hours. All the way down I kept feeling so ill thinking about the people who do it every single day. The above means as far as I know that, the sprawl and congestion will continue. What do we do? How do we protest? Why are these people constantly being re-elected? Is everyone happy to sit in traffic to go home to their families at night after a 2 hour commute each way (maybe more). I'm so sad and so angry. I refuse to follow the advice of 'look for an opportunity/the bright side' there is something WRONG here.

Sum Ting WONG

Last week I drove from Ponsonby to Whangamata. It took me 2 and a half hours to get to the Bombay service station to fill up. All up it took me 4 hours. All the way down I kept feeling so ill thinking about the people who do it every single day. The above means as far as I know that, the sprawl and congestion will continue. What do we do? How do we protest? Why are these people constantly being re-elected? Is everyone happy to sit in traffic to go home to their families at night after a 2 hour commute each way (maybe more). I'm so sad and so angry. I refuse to follow the advice of 'look for an opportunity/the bright side' there is something WRONG here.

Move to a city outside of Auckland and enjoy a 10 min bike ride home.
NZ is not China - you have personal freedom to move towns here.

Don't blame housing for the traffic congestion , they are two different things .

We have a totally dysfunctional public transport system , with the bus Companies dictating to Auckland Transport who gets which routes in a cozy cartel and the Unions holding us Aucklanders to ransom with strikes

Its so badly dysfunctional , that Auckland Transport staff don't even use Auckland Transport to get around

How disgraceful is that ?

dispersed housing causes traffic, as people need to drive to work. Compact housing means more people are within walking or cycling or short bus ride from work.

The new PTOM contracting model for bus services, the first of which has just been signed for South Auckland routes as part of the 'New Network' will solve allot of the dysfunction between AT and Bus companies.

Its your choice Auckland, make your democratic vote count at the next election in October.

"Councillors Alf Filipaina, Arthur Anae, Bill Cashmore, Linda Cooper, Penny Webster, Calum Penrose, Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse and Mayor Len Brown and voted to keep the 'denser' maps in front of the IHP."

"Councillors Cathy Casey, John Watson, Wayne Walker, Christine Fletcher, Dick Quax, Sharon Stewart, John Walker, Denise Krum, Chris Darby, George Wood, Cameron Brewer, Mike Lee and Ross Clow voted to withdraw the 'denser' maps from the IHP"

Won't less densification lead to lower land values hence lower house values?

No, in this case, less densification = less houses so more demand per house which increases prices.

Indeed, stand-alone houses will be selling at a premium just like in Vancouver.

Hold on ........... the last time I checked , we were a democracy.

Just who the hell do Auckland Council think they are ?

The Nazi Party ?

Auckland Council is only too eager to slip all sorts of things onto us without proper consultation , and they deserve to have this voted down .

14
up

..we are indeed a democracy. So when do we get to vote on immigration? This is the driver of it all, but for some reason we sit and accept rampant immigration as inevitable. Why?

Is this at all similar to how lawyers go in for attacking the process when they don't have a good enough rebuttal?

10
up

The same blue blooded reptilians forcing mass immigration up Auckland's posterior won't permit the densification to handle it.

It's a dark comedy. The only thing left to do is laugh. At least they will be dead in a few decades.

As per the latest reports, Auckland is awarded no. 3 livable city in the world. I don't know why few people crying about densification?

The real world is not the same thing as a corporate junket.

10
up

My advice to any Aucklanders struggling with the high rents and wanting to buy their own home - come to Melbourne. Rent is on a parr, salaries are much much higher, expenses are steady, public transport is amazing (& free in the centre of the city) and food is affordable.

Considering how much more we earn, in a year or two we will be ready to buy our own home. On top of that, the people are much friendlier and it's an exciting, vibrant place to live. Auckland is an overrated, conservative backwater that's only good if you're rich.

GET OUT WHILE YOU STILL CAN!

Price to income ratios are similar, so there's no evidence to suggest housing is more affordable at all.

Conservative backwater!? Please. Melbourne is where children are taught to hurl racial abuse at the footie.

I would really like to see progress on Auckland's housing supply (both up and out) - but it's also good that the ball is being knocked awkwardly back into National's court. I will enjoy seeing them squirm as they miss their house building targets and/or piss off their voting block by forcing zoning measures through above council. Supply of land for dwellings is pretty much National's only housing policy response - it will be great if this forces them to do more.

I wish I shared your optimism. I fear the only National response is going to be shared ownership vendor subsidies.

Whole sorry saga is a wonderful illustration of perverse incentives:

Contrary to public belief, Councillors and Politicians aren't stupid. They know (in an overall sense, averaged across them all) exactly what's needed in a long term sense for any given issue. They also know that Voting for it will render them unelectable. So they don't.....

This reminds me of my Father, after years of being a card holding Labour party member, not long after selling their business, downsizing homes, he tells me he is going to vote ACT.

Its self interest plain and simple. Look at the report in the papers yesterday about the Remuera neighbours who stumped up 100k to fight removal of a house and redevelopment. Come the revolution, first against the wall...

Good – Kohimarama Glendowie and Mission Bay are the crown jewels of Auckland. It just doesn’t make sense to ruin their character and devalue the properties through intensification. Plenty of suburbs closer to the CBD that are more suitable. If people have to go east then Glen Innes has an arterial train route to the CBD which makes it more suitable for intensification.
There’s just no provision for transport on the eastern beaches. If you ram in an extra fifty thousand people then then how will they all get to work? The main thoroughfares Tamaki Drive, Riddell Road, Kepa Road, St Johns Road, and Shore Road are already totally blocked in the morning.

"The main thoroughfares Tamaki Drive, Riddell Road, Kepa Road, St Johns Road, and Shore Road are already totally blocked in the morning."

Not really.... If you use the T2 lane you pretty much have an unimpeded journey to work. Oh... you say... but I like to be able to travel by myself in my Jag door-to-door from my St Heliers Palace. Fine then, deal with the traffic.

I live in Kohi and ride my bike to work along Tamaki Dr - there are no issues with the traffic.

This decision is can be up as the crowning glory of Baby Boomer NIMBYism.

Crown jewels?? LOL Just shows the elitist, arrogant mentality going on in AK right now.

Don't worry bro, keep importing those serfs while the young talent migrates elsewhere - as long as the workers don't revolt and your boys in blue (Po-po & Nats) keep you safe you'll be right.

But on the other hand if they don't..... RUN BOY RUN!!!

Time for central Government to panic.
Do they do nothing (as usual)
Or do they push the plan and incur the wrath at the ballot box

Or do they finally do something about demand by stopping IMMIGRATION as the root cause of the problem in the first place.

New unitary plan to prohibit subdivision, de-zone most areas. Council to hype it up and property prices to tank... so why do so many think that recent surge in house prices has nothing to do with a denser plan? - council is deciding your land values right now. Don't be a muppet and ask for no density. It'd be better to get your site allowing subdivisiom even if you never actually do it.

All this blame heaped on the immigrants. For shame.

If you want a demand-based policy that will work, outlaw investment, and bring back Housing Corp for those who don't want to buy.

What would a house price in Auckland be without investors ?!

Wrong. No blame on immigrants. Just blame on successive governments by not controlling the numbers in line with what we can absorb with comfort and without making citizens pay for. Some of the immigrants are incapable of making a worthwhile contribution no matter what. Their own limitations be it age, language or education severely restrict any potential of future benefit to the country as a whole.

I have never been convinced that increased population leads to happiness. Economic or otherwise. The evidence of what is happening in New Zealand, and currently in Auckland is enough to quash the 'progress through population' idea decisively.

The problem lies with the government trying to get the benefits of increased population without incurring the costs. If policies were in place to manage housing, infrastructure, education and job creation in line with demand then we could easily manage the inflow. However, putting these policies in place and their associated costs would shine a light on the issue which the current government wants to avoid. I would like to see public debate on this based on the facts

It's good that at least 13 councillors have the bigger picture in mind - getting themselves re-elected. And they can pretend they still care about unaffordable housing by claiming their concern is only about the 'process'.

Why do these same 13 plus the other 8 and the mayor not put their attentions to the demand side and drag a kicking and screaming Government into that side of the problem by discussing immigration and pointing the finger where it should be.

Because they sit in a glass house, and you don't throw stones in that case. At least not large one's, lol...

Yes. But let's address the demand side properly and ban investment altogether. Housing for the people. Not for making profit.

Aren't all those migrants coming here to escape the crowd in their own countries ? Would they settle for similar environment here ? If we set up few more Universities and Hospitals out in the wider NZ, would the migrants skip Auckland and go there ?

Like, f'rinstance, Hamilton , Tauranga, or RotoVegas....

.

I don't understand Auckland Council's aversion towards spreadin out. Auckland has plenty of land. Use it to for housing.

Because it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars per section to provide the necessary highway and water upgrades. Just look at the new Mill Road SH1 bypass to Dury proposal to support future hosuing in the area. That road upgrade is going to cost 400K per future house.

And they are not averse to doing it, there is tones of greenfield development at the Fringe in auckland currently happening, and tones more in the proposed unitary plan, but we need more housing in central areas too!