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Aucklanders oppose Government saying where to build houses

1 July 2013

Aucklanders oppose Government saying where to build houses

Nearly seven out of 10 Aucklanders think their council should decide where new housing development in Auckland takes place, not central Government, according to a new survey.

56.2% also believe the Government should not have special powers, provided for in a bill introduced under urgency to Parliament after the May Budget, to override the role of councils in deciding where housing development should take place.

An overwhelming 74.9% of Auckland adults would prefer the Auckland Council and the Government to agree on fast tracked housing development areas, rather than have the Government acquire special powers to override the Auckland and other councils.

The thumbs down to the special powers proposed in the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Bill come from a June 13 to 26 Horizon Research poll of 1026 Aucklanders aged 18+. Weighted to represent the Auckland adult population the poll has a maximum margin of error of +/- 3.1%.

The bill is now being considered by a parliamentary select committee. If passed it would enable the Government to strike "housing accords" with councils to fast track consents for housing development within Special Housing Areas.

The Government's aim is to streamline the planning process and quickly free up land for new housing. The Government says this will help make housing more affordable.

Consents would be approved within 60 to 130 days. They would allow applications for developments with up to six storey buildings and for developments which are currently prohibited in current or proposed plans.

They may be on rural land outside current urban boundaries. Neighbours "adjoining" (next to) the proposed developments will be notified of applications if there is more than a minor impact. Neighbours "adjacent", say living across the road, will not be told.

The bill, as sent to the select committee says the Government or a council in who have reached a housing accord may resign from it giving 30 days' notice. If a council resigns, or refuses to enter an accord, the Government can continue to operate the special housing authority which can approve resource consent applications.

Councils will have to provide new services and infrastructure for the newly consented developments in a timely way though developers with consent will not be required to undertake the development quickly.

The new law will also give the Government a new power to change environmental protection and planning law by regulation - without referring law changes back to Parliament.

Opponents of this, like the Law Society, say this is "contrary to the rule of law and good legislation principles". Some say it will lead to slum developments. Planning rules cover issues like protecting coastal areas, water quality and other amenities of value in local areas.

The Government argues such powers would be used as a last resort and are needed to make sure enough new housing is provided quickly enough to meet demand, especially in Auckland.

The law will be automatically fully repealed by 2017.

The Horizon poll finds 68.5% of Aucklanders are also opposed to the Government, through regulation, being able to change planning and consent law affecting housing developments in your city at any time without referring changes back to Parliament.

© Scoop Media

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