Unitary Plan delivering world’s least liveable city

Press Release – John Palino

30 September 2013

Unitary Plan delivering world’s least liveable city

“The Auckland Council’s notified Unitary Plan released publicly today will lead to congestion, more expensive housing and a reduction in the standard of living for all of Auckland,” says John Palino.

“The controversial mixed housing zone, which now consists of two components, has been expanded across the vast majority of the city. It allows more houses on smaller sections across and apartments across areas of the city currently zoned for typical kiwi houses.

“Apart from the appalling level of consideration given to local community submissions on the draft Unitary Plan, and the fact that this notified version has been hidden from the public until after voting papers were sent out, there are two major problems with particularly the housing provisions.

“The first is that, because the new mixed housing zones are sprawled all over the city, the new rules are going to lead to more cars on relatively fewer roads, greatly increasing congestion. It simply isn’t possible to service this wide an area with public transport good enough to provide a better option than cars.

“That’s not an opinion, it’s a finding from the Council’s own transport experts.

“The second major problem is that there is not the wider infrastructure, like wastewater and other critical services, in place to support haphazard new zoning provisions. The Council’s releasing thirty years of supply onto the market overnight. That’s going to result in massive new development in some areas within a few years and little in others for decades.

“We can’t afford to roll out services everywhere, which means some communities may be subject to water supply pressures dropping or wastewater seepage.

“That’s why the Council’s water experts, like their transport experts, voiced serious concern at the draft Unitary Plan. But the Council hasn’t listened to them, any more than it’s listened to the thousands of Aucklanders who took time to lodge submissions which were never read.

“This process is so important because the ease with which developers will be able to subdivide and infill will transfer property rights from existing residents to new residents under changes to the RMA. Many people with a view or a sunny back yard are going to wake up in the next few years with a new apartment or town house blocking that view and shading their garden and they will have no ability to protest or regain lost property value.

“The movement away from less intrusive development towards greater infill is also going to push up the per square metre cost of building a home, reducing the affordability of the kiwi dream.

“This unitary plan is a full frontal assault on the character and lifestyle of Auckland. Our way of life which has for so long been the strength of this city while our incomes fell relative to the rest of the world is being directly challenged by a Mayor who himself lives on a large lifestyle block with no public transport accessibility.

“If we want to compete in the global market for skills, we have to as a region leverage our strength, which is our standard of living, and not try to be Copenhagen or Stockholm.

“Establishing priority growth areas, including a second CBD, will provide new opportunities for housing, employment and recreation without taking away what we already have and value. And by focusing on fewer areas we can prioritise locations with excellent public transport so we reduce the need for cars.

“This Unitary Plan is a disaster for Auckland and Aucklanders and a fresh perspective must be taken if the aspirations of the region and not just a few inside the Auckland Council are to be realised,” said Palino.

ENDS

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