This week the council put online all 9,400 submissions to the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (PAUP).
I’m going to look at a handful of interesting ones over the coming days/weeks and one has already been picked up on by the media and it comes from the government, submitted by the Amy Adams, the Minister for the Environment.
In the submission the Minister says that “it’s important the PAUP has integrity and robustness, not least because it will be the single largest resource management plan in New Zealand, responsible for enabling or constraining up to 60 per cent of New Zealand’s future growth-based capital investment.” I think that’s an important point to remember in the Unitary Plan discussions. Huge growth is expected to occur in Auckland and it needs to be addressed. Just hoping it won’t happen or trying to implement policies like limiting immigration when the main cause of the growth is simply lots of people being born is head in the sand type stuff.
The submission says that after analysis from her officials she concludes:
And her focus is on five specific concerns.
- Housing Supply
- Plan Efficiency
- Plan Integrity
- Plan Suitability
I’m just going to pick out some key points from each of those.
While she does talk about the issue of greenfield land she also talks about the restrictions on intensification that have been imposed and in some cases that means the PAUP represents a downzoning on current plans. I also like how she’s noted that there is a huge risk that the underzoning of many areas could lock in sub optimal land use for decades. To me this is particularly the case across the Isthmus area.
Adams notes that particularly for medium and high density developments the rules are overly complex and inflexible, much more so than they were in the March draft of the plan. She says the March draft had a more widespread presumption towards non-notification and a liberal use of restricted discretionary activity status for higher density development. She also says helps in the plan making the hard decisions about intensification rather than leaving it to the resource consent process. However she says with the PAUP, notification will be much more prevalent. She then basically says the council gave in to NIMBYs by reducing flexibility and increasing development controls despite the draft UP having the tools to ensure better quality urban design. The outcome of all of this will be less medium – high density development.
She even calls out some of the stupid requirements like parking requirements, minimum dwelling sizes and set back requirements. In addition she questions the widespread heritage and significance to Manua Whenua overlays.
Perhaps most crucially in this section the Minister says the amount of greenfield land available for development will likely need to increase, particularly if the development restrictions mentioned earlier are not adjusted. However she also notes that increasing greenfield land won’t solve problems simply not everyone wants to live on the edge of the urban area. She also notes that increased greenfield land will place more pressure on the efficient provision of infrastructure.
Adams calls out three areas where she thinks the plan “oversteps the bounds of what is necessary or desirable in a resource management plan”. These are:
- Including affordable housing requirements in developments with 15 or more dwellings
- Sustainable building design provisions
- GMO regulation
Adams says the plan does not sufficiently provide for Auckland’s infrastructure needs. She says the planning and policy framework may not enable the consenting of major strategic infrastructure anticipated by the government and council. On transport infrastructure she says:
All up the submission seems fairly accurate and balanced and it’s pleasing to see the government calling out the silly and restrictive provisions that will limit density. My question though is why the government didn’t say anything about this sooner. Further why were government MP’s scaremongering about intensification during the UP debates and pushing people to oppose the plan. MP’s like Maggie Barry were rallying against the plan which assisted in the public opposition from places like the North Shore that led to the down zoning of the plan.