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Unitary Plan and the issue of “scope”

So yesterday the council decided to withdraw its evidence on residential rezoning yesterday. A big part of the Council’s reason was the issue of “out of scope” zoning changes. Councillor after councillor highlighted that they (supposedly) support intensification, but for it to be somewhere away from their area. It’s worth noting that most of these councillors from both sides of the political spectrum have opposed intensification at every step of the way. This time they used the excuse that they had significant concerns with the process of how the zoning changes have been made, in particular the inability of people to respond to changes that were not asked for in submissions – known as “out of scope” zoning changes.

There’s some logic in having an issue with this process – it doesn’t seem fair and would be against natural justice – if the changes sought weren’t highlighted in any submissions. However, this actually isn’t true. For example, our submission on the PAUP in February 2014 highlighted a number of areas where we wanted zoning changes to upzone areas and enable more growth capacity – I’ve highlighted our submission point requesting upzoning of the central isthmus area from Mixed Housing Suburban to Mixed Housing Urban:

Section Suggested Amendment Reason(s)
Maps – Central Isthmus Areas zoned Mixed Housing Suburban within the area bounded by New North Road in the west, the city fringe in the north, SH20 in the south and Great South Road in the east should be considered for rezoning to Mixed Housing Urban. The central isthmus has the best public transport accessibility of any part of Auckland, plus a gridded street network and frequent centres of various scales. It also has significant market demand for development.

Rezoning areas from Mixed Housing Suburban to Mixed Housing Urban would enable a wider variety of housing typologies in an area suitable for growth because of its public transport access and other amenities. Mixed Housing Urban would still retain the broad character of the area.

Mixed Housing Suburban area generally avoid places where Special Character overlays are applied.

There are also bunch of other areas where we have also requested zoning changes – like Meadowbank, Greenlane, Morningside, Grey Lynn and Mt Roskill. We specifically highlighted these requested zoning changes for the reasons outlined in the right-hand column and we expected the Council to consider changing its zoning pattern in the Unitary Plan due to our submission.

The way the public notification process works, to ensure natural justice, is that once submissions have been made they are then published and people can make further submissions for or against submissions they are interested in. We would fully expect people in the areas concerned who oppose the idea of our submission to make a further submission against it (from memory some did) enabling us to then go to the hearings and argue the case. But hey, we’re just a blog and I guess some people might not think to check out our submission.

However, the submission made by the Minister for the Environment (at the time) Amy Adams, on behalf of the government is the kind of submission that interested people should have looked at – given the Independent Hearings Panel was appointed by the Government and, hey, because they’re the Government. So what does that submission say about upzoning?

ministers-submission

Some pretty big concerns there – especially about the extent to which the Proposed Plan provided the level of necessary development capacity – including a specific concern about a misalignment between where demand is (i.e. in central areas) and where capacity has been provided (i.e. not in central areas). The Minister then goes on to be more specific about the Government’s concerns in relation to the level of capacity enabled by the Proposed Plan:

ministers-relief

This is a pretty clear direction that a major submitter has requested significant changes to the plan’s zoning pattern to provide more housing supply, especially in market attractive areas. This is what the Council’s now withdrawn evidence went and did. Fundamentally Council staff made a gigantic mistake by calling some of the zoning changes “out of scope”. There is good reason to argue the changes were very much in scope, responding to points made in our submission, the Government’s submission and others (like Housing New Zealand who argue in a lot of detail that the changes are in scope). Had they done that then today wouldn’t have happened.

Given that the resolutions passed only excluded “out of scope” evidence, I wonder whether there will be some legal arguments about whether the Council’s evidence truly was out of scope. I certainly hope so as at the moment it seems like our submission has been able to be ignored solely because we didn’t identify the individual address of every house we suggested should have its zoning changed. Where’s the natural justice in that?

In fact, I’ll go further, the council’s decision to remove withdraw its evidence of the basis that people affected didn’t get a chance to have a say is insulting to all of those like us who put in a lot of time and effort to understand and respond to both the draft and Proposed Unitary Plan. To suggest this late in the piece that some who couldn’t be bothered before to make a submission should suddenly get to jump on a bandwagon is outrageous, especially as those behind this opposition only want others who oppose the plan like them to have a say.

So where to now?

From what I understand it’s not as simple as just reversing the wrongly called ‘out of scope’ changes made in December. Those changes were made based factors such as a result of analysing submissions, updated evidence and interim guidance from the hearings panel. As mentioned by council staff yesterday, they now can’t stand up and defend the plan as proposed in 2013 without breaching profession standards as doing so would mean them deliberately ignoring evidence or using evidence they know to be false.

Submitters like Housing NZ who have very detailed submissions are likely to have a greater say in the outcome decided by the panel. During the debate Councillor Alf Filipaina highlighted the extent of intensification Housing NZ were suggesting in their submission compared to what the council proposed. This is shown below and as you can see is a significant increase (he didn’t mention the numbers for south or east)

HNZ Intensification figures vs Council

It’s also clear that the council need to do a better job of enabling better representation. Those at the meeting to try and support the Unitary Plan, especially anyone young, were heckled and jeered at by the largely elderly crowd. Is it any wonder it’s so hard to get youth to participate in the democratic process when people act like a pack of two year olds throwing a tantrum.

Ultimately the fate of the zoning will come down the Independent Hearings Panel who will report back to the council in July. Within 20 days of that the council will need to decide whether to support or oppose what the IHP suggest. This vote suggests many of these councillors will oppose the plan if it enables intensification or even just maintaining what’s possible now. If that happens it will open up the plan to challenges in the environment court delay it for possibly many years to come. Ultimately I think the be approved for the simple fact is it’s supported by the evidence.

115 comments to Unitary Plan and the issue of “scope”

  • RB

    “people act like a pack of two year olds”…you’ve clearly never witnessed Councilors and the Mayor when they don’t get their way. Quit rubbishing old people, one day you will be old and realize you simply didn’t know it all, even though you think right now that you do. Ignorance is for the young, wisdom comes with age. We should be questioning the need or desire to keep increasing Auckland’s population rather than forcing people in like sardines. And no, I’m not old, but I am smart enough to know that older people have more experience and can often see the folly in knee jerk reactions to perceived ‘problems’.

    • Tim

      I don’t hear Matt rubbishing old people. But those who behaved disgracefully yesterday should have, according to the wisdom of their years, known better.

    • Brian

      There was absolutely disgraceful behaviour by some in the audience yesterday. Mocking the youth advisory panel members was the lowest of the low. I have no respect for these NIMBYs anymore.

    • conan

      ‘We should be questioning the need or desire to keep increasing Auckland’s population’

      Short of an internal passport system combined with some form of birth control program how exactly might we achieve that?

      • One possible way to decentralise Auckland and make the regions more attractive to young and old, immigrants and Auckland lifers is to create special econmic zones. For example, businesses that startup or in the main, relocate to say Whangarei or Rotorua or Thames…. and employ x number of employees and apprentices pay no corporate tax for the first year with tapered relief over the next 5 years. In a stroke you create the incentive for regionalisation. If Auckland can’t get its act together, and clearly it cannot, it doesn’t deserve the investment the regions so badly need.

        • conan gorbey

          This might work, but surely at the end of the period the business will relocate to where the action and the money is? And no business is an island. How would you have both a business and its core suppliers relocate at the same time to the same location? Those supplier companies rely on more than one customer and unlikely to move to a remote location for one customer.

        • Why on earth would we want to ‘decentralise’ Auckland? That would just make it less efficient, productive, require more wasteful driving and kill agglomeration advantages… nutso.

          • Early Commuter

            It’s not “decentralising Auckland” it’s decentralising NZ. As done in the UK, Russia (which, if it hadn’t done so, would have succumbed to the German invasion in ’41 – thank god they dispersed industry to the Urals), and even in America inadvertently through strong states-based policies.

            While the overall effect on GDP might be negative, we all know that purse GDP growth by itself doesn’t mean greater benefits. Regionalisation might mean more expensive ipads but greater overall happiness.

        • Even with a scheme like you propose, I doubt you’d get many takers. The benefits of being based in a city simply outweigh it.
          Otherwise, why would you get a company like Fonterra being based in Akl?

        • So we lose tax revenue and subsidise areas where people have already indicated they don’t want to live? My father in law was in the Communist party in Romania and can tell you exactly how a system like that works.

          Hint – not very well

          • Early Commuter

            I don’t fully understand the logic here.

            If Auckland is growing, then the desirability still exceeds cost (i.e. house prices are NOT too expensive), right?
            So what’s the problem? Surely if house prices were excessive, demand would be damped. It isn’t.

            Isn’t the true market signal of excessive prices… a failure to buy at those prices? Which we aren’t seeing?

            Note: not an economist.

      • Guy

        “how exactly might we achieve that?” Well, the city is doing it quite well at present, by strangling itself with traffic, and ridiculously high property prices.

    • Their (the NIMBY’s) perceived wisdom seems to come in the form of maintaining and expanding their lucrative capital assets at the expense of future generations.

      • Bryan

        And what happens to their lucrative capital assets when they die? They get inherited by the future generations (unless you’re suggesting punitive death duties?)…

        • Chris R

          If the lucrative capital assets don’t get eaten up by rest home fees, *some* of the younger generation might get to inherit. Eventually. But I’ll just make the obvious point that not everyone in my generation has parents with a nice house in a leafy suburb. Not even most of us.

          • Bryan

            I don’t either, but I can understand people who have always lived in those leafy suburbs, or who paid a small fortune to buy into them, wanting to protect what attracted them to the area and makes it desirable.

            That’s the conundrum, when “everybody” wants to live in a “good” area, if you remove what makes it “good” so that “everybody” can live there, then it ceases to be “good” and “everybody” will want to go live somewhere else that is then perceived as “good”. A big part of the attraction of the leafy suburbs is the perception not everybody lives there, and one of the biggest challenges to fitting in more people is not destroying the very character that attracts people in the first place.

            The irony for many of the protesters, is the ugly apartments they are so afraid of, will likely be built by wealthy developers who can afford to live in those leafy suburbs.

          • Maybe we should have a bit more ambition and build more “good” neighbourhoods. Fitting more people in existing suburbs without destroying the character may be difficult, but I don’t think it’s impossible either.

            I think you are conflating two issues here. First there is this issue of buying into some exclusive expensive suburb. Those probably exist in most cities, and will always be unaffordable to people with average income.

            But what we see here is that the entire city becomes unaffordable. This is an artefact of a shortage in housing, not that the entire city somehow become a super nice neighbourhood. What is “desirable” about this area is that it is in the city and not out in the wop-wops. That won’t change at all if we build different houses.

            “Those ugly apartments”. Many people may think of the apartment blocks you find on eg. Nelson Street. Those are high-rises, and that is not what this discussion was about. It was mostly about cancelling some proposed down-zoning (!!), and maybe allowing some low-rise apartments in some areas. The latter don’t necessarily look much different than existing single houses, often the only way to tell single houses apart from duplexes or low-rise apartments, is counting the doorbells and letterboxes.

            And leafiness, a lot of the houses around eg. Dominion Road are single houses on very large 600 m² lots. Imagine we slice these lots into 2 300m² lots. Same depth but more narrow. Now let’s do some observations:
            – 7.5m is still plenty of width for a nice townhouse, say 2 storys on a 7×13m footprint.
            – We doubled the density, but since our new footprint mostly overlaps with the existing houses, we are not going to need to fell a lot of trees.
            – Smaller backyard, yes. But what is the point of living in a “nice” area if you are going to lock yourself up in your backyard?

        • Tasi

          If you’re lucky enough to have parents that own property

    • I think what RB means (or am I projecting?) is that Auckland has never properly debated the ‘Auckland Is Full (AIF)’ option. I’m not a supporter of it myself, but there are plenty of people who do – they say it on talkback and on social media all the time.
      Maybe it would be good to formerly discuss AIF since it might highlight how ludicrous an option it is. AIF would mean no further building permits because AIF. AIF would mean no further government investment in infrastructure because AIF – so the funds would be better spent in other cities who aren’t full. And AIF would probably mean no welfare benefits for people moving to Auckland because AIF and you shouldn’t have come here.
      AIF means we’ll have to build a big fence around our city boundary to stop immigrants from sneaking in – maybe we can make China pay for it?

    • Kelvin

      From the photos, it looks like most of the attendance are elderly who looks like retired and have a lot of free time. They are already used to the low density life style and would not like any change.

      Unfortunately the young and working people are busy working to pay their mortgage, so they could not attend on a weekday afternoon.

      I don’t think the attendance are representative and democratic. The elderly are overly represented where the young and working class are under represented.

      • Bob

        The audience was merely that, an audience. The Council (Mayor?) selected who would speak (4 for and 4 against) and then the Council voted. The Council is an elected body that represents all of Auckland – old, young, working or not, rich or poor. What was your point again?

        • kelvin

          The grumpy faces of the majority eldery audience gave pressure to the councillers and affecting their decisions.

        • If “The Council is an elected body that represents all of Auckland – old, young, working or not, rich or poor.”… then why was the audience exclusively old white people from east Auckland booing and jeering everyone they didn’t agree with?

          • Bob

            The two are not connected. The Council is the Councillors and the Mayor. The audience was members of the public and had no official role in the proceedings.

  • conan

    This really does so we need more participation in local government elections. The reason the crowd yesterday was taken seriously is that they represent the demographic that votes and the councillors know that.

    I certainly hope that organisations like Generation Zero turn their amazing ability to engage younger people into an active campaign to get more of the young to vote, and in turn provide support for those councillors thinking of the future of Auckland rather than preserving the past.

  • GL

    Reminds me of about 20 years ago the uproar in St Heliers when a local restaurant started putting tables and chairs for dining on the footpath. It went to the extent of a petition being organised . They did not want the change happening elsewhere in the city. Sadly those behaviours prevail today .

  • Lindsey

    I was quite disgusted to see a comment on the Facebook page of a friend of mine which rejoiced in the decision and said how pleased she was that “these young people can’t push us around and tell us how to live”. It was as simple as that.

  • Bruce

    Just going to name and shame those Councillors who put their own self interest and petty NIMBY interests ahead of Auckland and Aucklanders. They are:
    Cameron Brewer
    Cathy Casey
    Ross Clow
    Chris Darby
    Chris Fletcher
    Denise Krum
    Mike Lee
    Dick Quax – no surprise there
    Sharon Stewart
    John Walker – no surprise there
    Wayne Walker
    John Watson
    George Wood – no surprise there.

    Hold your heads in shame you selfish pricks!

  • Lloyd C

    It’s going to be amazing when the goverment decides the plan doesn’t go far enough and they implement their own plan.

  • Guy

    I’m not surprised that the audience acted so rudely at times – watching the video it was still obvious that there was a palpable tension in the air – people almost quivering in anger. The second woman (in a cowboy hat – what IS it with people wearing hats indoors to a council meeting in Auckland ?) was almost exploding with rage. Very curious body language. And then even Julie Stout nearly lost her cool. In fact, the only people to retain composure were the two young people, who spoke incredibly well.

    It is clear, however, that in removing their proposals, Auckland Council have abdicated their responsibility to implement the Unitary Plan’s aim of creating 240-280,000 new homes. There is now a very real danger that Nick Smith will step in and override the process, to create more homes. While I don’t think he would throw out the council as the government did in Canterbury, 5 years ago (still not reinstated – a gross breach of democracy if ever there was one), the council’s backing down before the mob may have actually made things worse – either more houses, or more roads, are a certain outcome.

    • Woman in a cowboy hat? That’ll be Lisa Prager, co-owner of the trendy Garnet Station café in Westmere. The definition of someone who’s left on general principle but incredibly reactionary if it affects her upper-middle-class lifestyle and neighbourhood.

    • In Facebook debates I’ve got older property owners outright laughing at my complaints. “F*** you, I’ve got mine,” in essence. I never knew until now how much older property owners sometimes DESPISE the younger generation for having it harder than they did. Pure privilege talking – just like you get from Men’s Rights Activists or white supremacists.

  • Jeremy

    They were focusing on the process like a drug cheat. But they lose the fact decision making from the council is part of the process.

  • Matthew W

    I have emailed my ward coucillors (NS) to ask them whether they voted in favour of removing proposed upzoning that was truly out of scope, or whether they voted in favour of removing the blue bordered areas. I explained in my email that these two things are completely different and that the blue bordered areas are in general actually in scope. I’ll be interested to see what they thought they were voting for.

    Does anyone have a link to the actual wording of the resolution that was voted on?

  • Make It Go

    Even before yesterday’s council backslide, my children have already been driven out of Auckland – eldest daughter moved to Europe late last year and wont be returning to AKL at all. My son moves to Japan end of this year and will buy a house there he says – he has had enough of “Auckland old people hijacking his future”. My middle daughter will move to Singapore after she graduates university in 2017 and our youngest daughter at age 16 is already making plans to emigrate to Canada or the US “for a better life”. Thanks Auckland for driving out the next generation in favour of a bunch of selfish old fogies who have never really been overseas (Australia and the UK are not overseas as they are just a bigger NZ) and who dont want to learn anything about the modern world. Thanks a lot old codgers and crones.

    • conan gorbey

      Which should concern boomers as we have a PAYG public pension system. Offshore citizens won’t be paying for this. Despite rhetoric around having paid taxes all their life, this is a very minimal prepaid pool for these pensions and they are mainly funded out of general taxation.

      • James B

        They got free education and then when it came to my generations time we had to pay. I don’t mind that so much as it makes you the customer and the tertiary provider the customer except that they completely rule out raising the pension age despite increasing average life expectancy.

    • Bruce

      Not sure about “UK are not overseas as they are just a bigger NZ”… similar climate and other things but the UK has a much different attitude to housing (high density cities meaning that for a country smaller than NZ has not much less green space despite having 10x the population).

      • Yeah I was going to say, I’ve lived in both Sydney and London and was surprised at the amount of culture shock I got in both places.
        Not saying it’s the same as moving to rural India for example, but they’re not the same as NZ.
        I am not a yokel btw, born and raised in Akl.

  • Chris R

    Slightly OT, but did anyone notice the language in the MfE submission about transport plans with too much focus on place, not enough on access and through-movements? IE moar roads for moar cars. Funny sort of thing for the Minister for the Environment to be saying.

    On topic, I’m extremely disappointed in my supposedly progressive councillors. Not to mention my supposedly progressive local board chair speaking in favour of the NIMBYs. I wrote to tell them so and got mostly lip service in reply.

    What happens next? Presumably they will vote down any sensible recommendations from the panel on the grounds that council wasn’t involved in the process. And then we get to start from scratch, fighting NIMBYs every step of the way?

  • Observer

    Thanks for bringing up the other side of the scope issue here, when debate time rolled around it was amazingly absent from the Councillors. Hopefully it isn’t absent from the minds of the members of the IHP. I’m particularly disappointed in Chris Darby for joining in on such a colossal blunder. I suspect he did his self-described careful analysis with one heavy thumb on the scales. This is certainly one voter in his ward who will remember it.

    What’s also missing is that everyone had the opportunity at submission time to make a submission in support of what they liked. So if they liked their zoning as notified they had every right to take five minutes out of a weeks-long timeframe to fill out an online form FOR FREE saying “I support my zoning in the notified plan at 22 Wisteria Lane, Leafy Suburb.” Then if anyone else (including Council) put forth evidence to change that zoning they would have the right to speak before the panel. Silence does not register as support for the notified plan – it doesn’t register as anything. It’s like not voting.

    This is not some esoteric concept – if you want to exercise your democratic rights you have to participate when you’re given the opportunity to do so, not demand a seat after declining the invitation. It’s not a natural justice issue if you are only just realizing what the purpose of this years-long process actually is. And we’re not talking about disenfranchised minorities here either, the people who are complaining about this are among the most politically represented constituency in the region, and the request to remove evidence that reflects the Council’s best professional analysis in the light of legitimate submissions amounts to a request for special privileges, a democracy “do over” to mitigate their ignorance of the capacity for change within this process and their legally proscribed role within it.

    • Frank McRae

      yes you’re exactly right. The worst part is that Auckland2040 and the NIMBY resident’s groups knew this and all submitted requesting council to ‘retain’ the zoning they were happy with. And council said that anyone not involved in the process at this stage could tag in to the evidence of the resident’s groups. There really is no issue of natural justice here.

    • Unfortunately there has been a failure by governments and the media to help people understand the process. If you did not understand the process when you had the opportunity to speak you have since been excluded from the system. So I do think that this is a flawed system as a result of the failure to provide adequate education to the public.

  • GSter

    I’d be quite confident that this decision would fail a judicial review…

  • Lindsey

    The usual disgraceful response from Bernard Orsman in today’s Herald.

    • Matthew W

      Is it common for a reporter to also be an opinion writer? We seem to have the situation where the reporting on this topic is dominated by one reporter who is also an opinionated columnist?? Is this standard practice? Does Bernard really put on his objective reporters hat and then swap it for his opinion writers hat? He must be very disciplined.

    • At least it now says “Bernard Orsman’s Opinion”, instead of pretending to be neutral reporting.

  • Chris R

    Bryan at 12:55:

    I sympathise with people being afraid of change, but it’s unrealistic to expect a neighbourhood in a growing city to stay the same in perpetuity. And it’s a false dichotomy to say that we can’t build more housing in good places to live without making them less good – if you look at cities like Vancouver or Portland or Melbourne, plenty of the ‘missing middle’ of medium-density housing can be added without ruining the character and attractiveness of an area. And that’s without considering the advantages of more population, such as more services, a wider range of amenities and better public transport.

    I’ve also watched the category of ‘desirable suburb which it is unrealistic to expect ordinary families to be able to afford’ expand over the years to include the entire isthmus and most of the north and east. (Heck, when my parents bought their house in Sandringham, it was an affordable neighbourhood for a young couple with two kids and 1.5 modest salaries.) Where is it going to end?

    • In terms of affordable housing Vancouver is a poor choice, housing there is less affordable than Auckland.

      • Chris R

        More affordable than it would be if it the medium-density neighbourhoods had remained single-house. And their rental market is less horrendous than ours. Also, IIRC, the survey only looked at Vancouver proper (analogous to our old Auckland City Council area), not the metro area including contiguous cities like Burnaby and Surrey, so it’s not entirely a comparison of apples with apples.

        But you’re right, they could do with a bit more upzoning – the medium density doesn’t extend very far from the centre of town at all. Possibly they have similar NIMBY problems to us.

        • Anecdotally (I currently live in British Columbia but well away from Vancouver), all of the Lower Mainland (Vancouver plus some) has become unaffordable in a similar way to Auckland. When I look at how the different average house prices I see figures sometimes for Vancouver (much like the old Auckland City) and for larger areas. I’d also say the rental scene really isn’t much better than Auckland, a friend’s daughter is paying $1200/month for a relatively central 400sqft bachelor apartment. Vancouver keeps coming in at or near the top of most city liveability polls, so this is to be expected as this is essentially the demand side of the equation. I agree things could be worse in Vancouver if they hadn’t intensified and also built/are building rapid transit. Also, almost every statement made about Auckland’s and Vancouver’s unaffordable housing in the media is exactly the same.

  • With regards to the whole idea of “why don’t we just stop Auckland growing”, I think it’s unhelpful to make jokes about building a wall, having internal passports and so on. There are lots of other non-coercive, or less-coercive policies government can adopt to try to control population.

    Obviously, migration is one. It accounts for a minority of population growth, but it is still a respectable proportion of it. Government can easily reduce the number of new migrants (as opposed to returning citizens).

    We can also do more to encourage education, which is correlated with lower birth rates, as is urbanisation (ironically, given the supposed reason for doing this), and simply increasing wealth. The government can also make it easier to access various forms of contraception.

    It is possible we could develop social norms about two-child family maximums, publicly shaming people who violate them, in the same way we shame pregnant mothers who smoke or drink.

    At a more extreme level, though not outside the bounds of mainstream right-wing politics, would be reducing Working For Families or benefits for families that are “too large”, or at the very least, no longer providing benefits for additional children.

    I don’t agree that an increasing population is a bad thing, but it’s certainly possible to control to some degree, within the bounds of mainstream politics. If you’re going to argue about the level of population, you can’t just sit back and say “well, how would we even do it?”. You’re not convincing anyone or helping. If increasing population is a good thing, or a neutral thing, you need to argue the case for it.

    • conan gorbey

      I wasn’t making a joke in reference to internal passports, more questioning how you would stop Auckland’s population grow. You list some ways it might be able to happen. I agree with education, am mixed about additionally controlling migration (we are far from an open door) and disagree about any form of government control on birth rates- it’s not working out well for China for example. Birth rates tend to drop naturally as a country gets richer. At 2.05 our fertility rate is higher than OECD average (1.7) but below replacement of 2.1.

      • Bruce

        We might not be open door but we have a large door for a relatively small venue with the area around the bar (Auckland) quite jammed since they didn’t make the upstairs extension….
        Of all the policy measures in this country the simplest, quickest and cheapest option would be to control migration but the government turns a blind eye to it as without the temporary boost to GDP it provides their economic management would come under scrutiny.

        • Jamie Walton

          Very perceptive Bruce, if immigration really does boost GDP figures (does it, net? – what about GDP per capita?). [Yes, I know GDP is a flawed metric and counts a lot of bads as goods, but until we use better measures, it’s the measure.]

          Also, as conan gorbey reminds us, superannuation is mainly paid for by today’s taxpayers, so maybe this is another reason why the government is so keen on working visas: to help pay for the superannuation (but again, does it, net? – is there any data or research which shows that it does?). [Btw, I’m not anti-immigration, I would just like to know whether the rationales that are given (e.g. “it boosts the economy”) are actually factual.]

  • Kelvin

    Now what’s next?

    Since a few objecting councilors acknowledged the support of intensification but not the process.

    Is the council going to initiate Unitary plan Phase II? This time have a fair process so people could not object?

  • Is the Greater Auckland organisation behind Transportblog considering an electoral challenge to the councilors and local boards who succumbed to NIMBY pressure? If so, where do I sign up?

  • Mr Plod

    If you’re a National Party strategist you now have two ways of gaining the seat of power in Auckland. One is to have your candidate run on the “no highrise” ticket and win. And it the polling suggests that isn’t going to happen you play the Canterbury card and call the whole process out of control, sack the Council and appoint your own commissioners. Do our current batch of Councillors not see they are pushing the process in that direction. Or maybe they do, and favour themselves to be appointed as the Commissioners

  • Anthony

    The out of scope changes should have gone out for consultation back in December. It will still have to happen, sooner the better.

    • SDW

      They werent out of scope as set out in the post, two where does consultation stop. If you put any changes back out and consultation then requests more changes surely you have to put those new changes out again for consultation ad infinitum. This wasnt an issue about process or natural justice, that was just trotted out by those whose ideas werent holding up to scrutiny against the evidence or who refused to engage in the process in the first place. They may as well demand a redraw of the lotto because they forgot to buy their ticket next time.

      • mfwic

        Yeah it says on a blog they were within scope so that must be true. Just a bunch of lawyers, planners and now politicians who think they are out of scope. WTF would any of them know?

        • Matthew W

          Actually the planners didnt think they were out of scope. Didn’t you read the report? Their definition of scope is quite clear. Also HNZs lawyers are pretty clear they think in scope.

          In fact yourcyhd onlg person I know who thinks there is some secret real reaso why out of scope.

          • mfwic

            I have read their evidence (some at least) they wouldn’t have said it in their own statements if they didnt think it. I have also read the HNZ memo. I can’t figure how “rezone us and any other necessary to avoid a spot zone” lets people know they are affected. But hey who cares what 13 Councillors believe- we should just let two Councillors and a statutory board member ram it all through with a casting vote. We dont need this democracy crap. Thats just for those old people.

          • Matthew W

            So was their definition of scope in yesterdays report false? Why would they write a false definition that makes them look bad?

            I have asked three of the councillors whether they actually consider the blue bordered places out of scope. Two non responses to date, and one basically said i dont want to answer that question – not very convincing.!

            As for peoples voices being heard the IHP was quite happy there were enough voices at the table that all relevant views would be heard on the submission. But theyre only judges and shit like that right?

          • mfwic

            Yesterdays report was written by Council managers who were in a corner. Not by all of the witnesses. The Judge had only said they would consider requests for out of scope changes if they were put forward, not that he agreed with them. He also noted the need to hear both sides. Ask yourself how could the panel do that if your property was one of them and you couldn’t make a submission or have standing? Are you seriously suggesting the Panel should be expected to rely on existing submitters like HNZ and Auckland 2040 in deciding what to do with your property and your neighbour’s property? The Panel would have to consider any request but they might have considered them and thrown them back. Dont forget the Council has controlled this whole process or at least the Council officers and a couple of Councillors have and they clearly never had the majority with them. If you want intensification then get it properly, don’t try and steal it.

          • Matthew W

            Im not suggesting it. the IHP did. I think it is item 4 in their letter responding to the request for late submissions. They say that views would be able to be adequately addressed. It was a reason given for not allowing late submissions.

            I think the onus is on you to explain why you think that a reasonable person, when reading a submission that says upzone the entire isthmus to MHS at a minimum, doesnt believe that submission is seeking relief to have their isthmus street upzoned to MHS? Your position is illogical.

          • I’m so tired of this idea of skulduggery. The UP is plodding, it changes very little from the current plans, and certainly nothing radical, often it’s a step backwards in terms of allowable density… it’s a bunch of nerdy planners trying to be reasonably rational in their usual overly proscriptive way because that’s the task they’ve been given…it’s their job to unify the various old plans. There is nothing dramatic or even interesting going on here. This image of grand schemes by Council officers or sub-committees of Councillors is fanciful. A self-serving illusion promulgated by Len haters and disappointed and dim oldies full of fear and lead by the nose into a frenzy.

          • mfwic

            Matthew W. The Judge doesn’t say he is happy to approve matters out of scope just by listening to Auckland 2040 and HNZ. He says he will not grant a waiver for late submissions for the six reasons he lists. In item 4 he is saying he expects he will he arguments about scope from those two parties. Item six is the big clue. He notes this isn’t the only way to get changes, the council can do a plan change later! They took that hint, eventually.
            If you look at the case he cites Palmerston North CC vs Motor Machinists Ltd it sets out when a submission is on a PC or not (scope). It will be different here as it is a new plan and they can recommend out of scope, but the first issue is was the matter in the submission covered by the S32 analysis? If not then it is probably lacking. Second is there a potential or real risk those directly affected have been denied a response. So if someone said upzone the whole isthmus generally do you think is satisfies those two tests?

          • Matthew W

            mfwic. I didnt say he was happy to approve matters out of scope. What I said was the judge has said that “the effects of various residential zonings will be able to be adequately assessed”. Not just about whether they are in scope or not, but the effects and merits of said zonings. That was a reason given for declining to grant a waiver.

          • Matthew W

            On the second, yes obviously that is what we have been discussing. We has referred to the motor machinist case as a backgrounder. The existing s32 analysis will cover any of the proposed rezoning put up by the council, the s32 report was not fine grained enough to differentiate according to what is being proposed. All areas are being rezoned – we are talking about applying the same zone rules to different locations that they themselves are being rezoned.

            So yes I would agree that certainly what the council had put up on its rezoning maps would be covered by the s32 report. Its hard to believe even the IHP would consider recommending out of scope changes that went so far beyond the PAUP as to render another s32 required. So a red herring this context.

          • mfwic

            Funny how you and I can read the same stuff and come to different conclusions. I read the memo as saying there will be no further submissions as we dont have time and already have enough to figure out if we are doing this type of thing. And by the way if this breaches natural justice we will just reject it and tell the Council to do a plan change if they still want it. The first time I read it before all this blew up I assumed it meant bye bye to out of scope stuff unless the people affected were already in the process. Pity we dont get to find out.

          • Matthew W

            You might be right, I am sure you have more experience looking at these things than me. We will still find out one way or another I woulhd have thought, we will see how the IHP treats HNZ’s submissions.

      • Matthew W

        Yes absolutely this is a false battle about process, the real battle is about intensification.

      • So this ‘out of scope’ phrase is understood by no-one. Except the NIMBYs know it means evil and makes them reach for the pitchforks and flaming touches from the boots of their Porsche Cayennes and Audi SUVs.

        In truth it appears to refer to a deeply technical distinction and not worthy of the emotional force that some are projecting onto it.

        The poor old UP, so little understood; so fought over. It’s a bit like religion in that regard. It seems people are designed to be more intense about issues in inverse proportion to their grasp of them…

        So it goes.

        • mfwic

          I’ll bet they are wishing they hadn’t lobbied for this process. If we had the old system we would have an RPS by now with maybe a few appeals outstanding but the rest would have effect. We would now be working out policies and objectives then rules for a district plan that would give effect to an RPS safe in the knowledge that if the Council got it wrong then people could appeal. Think of how much more straight forward that would have been.

          • SDW

            Exactly right, the RPS needed to happen in isolation so the scene could be set for lower tier objectives, policies and rules. This issue was raised several times at early hearings on the PAUP and foreshadowed the omnishambles we now find ourselves in.

          • Frank McRae

            yup we could get what we’ve always had. An RPS that says we’re providing for housing growth and then rules that do nothing of the sort. And it would all only take 15 years to become operative.

  • buttwizard69420

    I can’t really blame people for getting up in arms about the Eastern Beaches area being intensified. It takes 40 mins to get from one end of Tamaki Drive to the other in rush hour, and for an hour either side of it. The roads are supposedly arterials, but there’s no rapid transit or bus lanes. The infrastructure cannot support the current population, but was supposedly going to accommodate more?

    I am firmly in favour of intensification, but maybe you guys should try sitting in go-nowhere traffic on Tamaki Drive every day – and don’t even bother on the weekend, it’s a total write off. It’s not a new thing, and I don’t blame people who live here for being unconvinced by the Council that there will be the infrastructure to cope. Their track record suggests otherwise.

    Having said that, pulling the whole thing as ‘out of scope’ was dumb and will probably come back to haunt everyone. Yes, sure, blame the action groups, but why not ask who thought making sweeping changes to a document post-consultation and not expecting a backlash was a viable option? That seems equally shortsighted. What did they expect?

  • Owen Thompson

    I have the misery of having John Walker as my Councillor and am amazed that he actually attended a Council meeting and voted. Impressive.

  • Jeremy

    The IHP can still consider the withdrawn maps and evidence in their final decision can’t they? Since it has been submitted.

  • AucklandThirdMostLiveableCity

    So your point is that among all submissions, your submission, requesting all mixed use suburban zones in the whole Auckland Isthmus should be considered to become mixed use urban

    and one from National’s Minister for the Environment(!!!) that said

    – zoning be changed because we can’t grow as projected and it’s too hard to upzone.

    In what way is that enough notification for the specific proposed streets full of households in the proposed Council “out of scope” area to KNOW they are about to be upzoned? Our street wasn’t in the proposal, another nearby street is. Yes, in a rezoning it is at least polite to list addresses. How is that comical?

    • Matthew W

      It isn’t. Noone knew, knows or will know they are about to be upzoned anywhere until the council makes their decision in August. And that decision is in the absence of public submissions or consultation.

      The relevant question is – would someone who read those submissions reasonably believe that those submissions are seeking relief to have their street upzoned? I don’t know how you could answer no to that, unless you have a very strange definition of “all”.

    • Matthew W

      Regarding the listing of addresses, do you want someone who has submitted for general upzoning to list 500,000 addresses in their submission? I wouldn’t use the word polite to describe that action!

      • For every submission that was handed in, someone went through and hand-annotated every item of relief sought, then put them all in a giant spreadsheet. 4000 pages, from memory. Even the largest submissions asked for only a thousand or so specific changes.

        If someone actually had tried to submit every parcel of land, specifically and individually named and addressed, I wonder what would have happened? That one submission would have been more than ten times bigger than every other submission combined, by number of changes requested.

        If it were an individual, I assume it would have been filed in the circular floor file for insufferable smartarses and crackpots. (One of these files exists in every government department). But what if a major potentially-lawyered-up lobby group had?

        I also assume that some smartarse who reads this blog is inevitably going to do this next time, so we should find out for the first big public plan change.

  • Bob

    The Council was probably in a no-win situation with the UP, but it’s role in the process has been poorly communicated and therefore not well understood imho. It would have come as a significant surprise to many people that the Council (as perceived architects of the UP) could lodge a submission to the IHP. And, in this context, that this submission contained significant changes to zoning for some parts of the city it’s not surprising that it generated concern from those affected. To claim that the IHP will view the Council submission in the same light as any other submission is seen as disingenuous. Especially when the Council gets to decide on the IHP recommendations.

    And btw how did the Council manage to down zone significant areas – that really is an own-goal.

  • Jeremy

    The hearings stage is equally as important as the pre-hearings stage. However, there is time for the council to get back in the game if they can realise the changes were infact based on submission to the hearings panel which the IHP took on board and then relayed that message to the council. Also you can’t say the initial submissions to the notified plan has suddenly got no relevance, they could vote a thousand times if they wanted to based on initial submissions.

    Either way if I was a panel member I would still be reading the council submitted evidence since I can and should.

    • Matthew W

      I have just read the resolution that was voted on. It refers only to out of scope zone changes. Given these have not yet been determined, the council is going to need to work out which changes are actually in scope and out of scope in order to enact the resolution. So they end up simply correcting their scope definition, reclassifying it all as in scope and leaving the evidence essentially unchanged. This would be consistent with the governing body resolution that I read.

      • It would be a blatant flouting of the intent of the resolution, though. Based on what was said at the meeting, councillors clearly thought they were voting to remove the changes that were outlined in blue on the maps shown to them.

        • Matthew W

          Maybe. Guys like Darby were specifically voting to avoid “out of scope” changes due to the issues of process. If the changes are actually in scope, then that process issue goes away because concerned parties could have submitted on the submissions calling for upzoning (which they could have). This is the question I want to know the answer to: is it actual out of scope changes they were concerned about, or the changes bordered blue regardless of whether they were really out of scope or not? I have asked Darby and Wood this via email (as my ward councillors). So far, no response. I asked Denise Krum this on facebook. She avoided the question!

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