Auckland Council today adopted a Future Development Strategy (FDS) that will slow down development around the city including Warkworth, Wellsford and Algies Bay.
At the Planning, Environment and Parks committee, the strategy passed with 18 councillors voting in favour, including Rodney’s Cr Greg Sayers, and three against.
The strategy revisits the time frames for live zoning large tracts of greenfield land around Warkworth. Public feedback was broadly in support with 66 per cent of individual submitters supporting council’s direction.
Auckland Plan strategy and research general manager Jacques Victor said the strategy addressed issues around natural hazards, needs for infrastructure funding and council’s funding constraints.
Some councillors expressed concerns adopting the FDS ahead of the formation of the next government.
Cr Maurice Williamson put forward an amendment to delay the decision.
“Why would we be doing something today which might be working under a complete change to the policy statement in a month’s time?” Williamson asked.
He suggested the policy direction under the new government could see a dramatic change to the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) which informs the FDS.
“We should make decisions by ourselves, but we should also be aware of what it is they [government] are seeking to do and then decide,” Williamson said.
Mayor Wayne Brown opposed the amendment and said Auckland needed to stand on its own two feet.
“We took aggressive action with the outgoing government – we don’t wait for the incoming government to plan our city either,” Brown said.
He said he needed to know the council’s position ahead of discussion with the new government and he did not want to go into that discussion with “a blank sheet and a concession that we can’t plan the region unless the government is happy”.
Cr Shane Henderson said he was surprised by the amendment and the amendment went against council’s opposition to government overreach from the NPS-UD
“We need to be taking charge of our own planning destiny. We don’t need to call Mum and Dad on this,” Henderson said.
Cr Mike Lee commended the mayor’s tough talk towards government but wondered where it was on other issues.
“Councillor Williamson’s amendment is merely courtesy and diplomacy to an incoming government; helping build a relationship,” Lee said.
The amendment was lost, 14 to seven.
Cr John Watson commended the FDS for addressing issues like developing in flood prone areas and ad-hoc plan changes, but said strategies didn’t address housing affordability.
“Until there is a fundamental change from government to build more low-cost housing, we perpetuate the myth that development strategies will open up low cost housing – it’s a game of make believe as far as affordability goes,” Watson said.
Cr Chris Darby supported the FDS but said it did not go far enough and expected the strategy would shift towards further intensification in years to come.
“I don’t hear [concerns] about intensification per se. I am hearing it is about the quality of the built outcomes – I think we have a lot of problems in the design of our environment,” Darby said.