Viewpoint – Fight back on zoning proposals

The big issue facing the Hibiscus Coast right now is the proposed zoning changes that bring much more housing density than is presently allowed.  

Without significant changes from Auckland Council or the Government they come into effect this August.

Whangaparāoa is one of the worst-case scenarios for higher density in Auckland.

On the peninsula, as many as 8000 plus properties are affected. As of right (without resource consent or advising neighbours) three houses and three storeys with no requirement for on-site parking are possible. Plus the ability to build closer to the street and closer to the boundary all around. There are no extra controls on quality, design, sustainability features (such as solar panels), and no consideration on the impact of loss of view, local traffic loadings and so on for neighbours.  

All of the Hibiscus Coast will be impacted in some way – in my view it will lead to more chaotic development everywhere because it will not be controlled or coordinated. Many developers will seek to excavate and remove everything, including trees, then add retaining walls to make flat sites. We see this already. Competing to buy a home on price against developers will be harder than ever. 

Pre-notification submissions closed on Monday, May 9. In late May, a workshop (probably behind closed doors) will give Council staff the direction on what Council may be able to push back against within the government requirements.

Myself and fellow Albany Ward Councillor John Watson are consistently saying infrastructure constraints such as roading, sewage pipeline and processing capacity, stormwater and flooding issues, and more, are “qualifying matters” – these are the legally allowed reasons to limit density. This reasoning allows Council to push back and limit density increases. We oppose the changes because Auckland already has zoning in place for more than a million new homes through the Unitary Plan.

In the heritage suburbs of Auckland, like Devonport, Birkenhead and Northcote Point, we support the retention of heritage character defining homes – many of which have been lovingly restored, have years of life remaining and contribute to neighbourhoods that are liveable and sought after.

On August 4, the proposals go to the vote at a Planning Committee meeting.  Next there will be another round of formal submissions and further decision-making – but increasingly out of Council control.  

Yes, there is a place for controlled and coordinated intensification around transport hubs and metropolitan centres such as Albany and Takapuna. But central Government and Council should focus on the real reasons for housing unaffordability, which this further intensification will not solve.

So this is a call to action. Challenge the government. Make your MP aware of your opposition. Lobby Councillors in the lead up to voting. Local Board members we have spoken with share our position – they can also take a stand. Put in a submission when next you have the opportunity. We are organising a public meeting on Saturday, May 21 at 9am at Whangaparāoa Hall to rally against the density proposed. Hope to see you all there.