There have been a number of stories related to prospective Special Housing Areas in this newspaper. We make no apology for publishing this information, which is discussed in confidence between Council, developers and central Government, and we will continue to do so on your behalf.
Special Housing Area (SHA) status allows development to be fast-tracked, with minimal consultation and appeal rights.
The community want to know whether this style of intensive housing development is likely to spring up in their backyard, even though they have no say in the matter. The feeling of powerlessness over the future shape of the neighbourhood is something we hear about all the time.
The section entitled “what role do communities play?” in the SHA section of the Council’s website largely describes activities that go on behind closed doors – including obtaining local board views. We are told that even those discussions with the local board – effectively the only input that community representatives have – are considered a privilege, not a right. The Housing Project office says that the view of the relevant local board on the suitability of a prospective SHA is one of council’s establishment criteria. “The council seeks to meet as many of the criteria as possible when deciding whether to recommend a candidate location to the Minister of Housing for his approval.”
Should that input be withdrawn from the Hibiscus & Bays Local Board in future, we will also make that public.
We acknowledge that developers have a right to confidentiality when it comes to their intellectual property. For our most recent story about an application for a SHA in Whangaparaoa (HM June 17) we spoke to the developer, who made no secret of the fact that they hope for more residential housing for the understandable reason that housing is the hottest part of the market.
If you are going to throw away the rulebook that applies to everyone else, you must expect increasing public interest, media scrutiny and mistrust. We will therefore continue our investigations into any proposed SHAs on the Hibiscus Coast and will make that information public when we have obtained it, despite the Council’s closed-door attitude.