Unitary Plan wrong to be notified during election campaign
Tuesday, 10 September 2013
Auckland Councillor Cameron Brewer
Unitary Plan wrong to be notified during an election campaign
“It is almost unconstitutional for Auckland Council to have rushed something so controversial and major through at the height of an election period. Ramming the draft Unitary Plan through for notification at this time contravenes good governance and confirms that the process has been completely top down not bottom up,” says Auckland Councillor for Orakei, Cameron Brewer.
“There is a longstanding convention for governments not to make big decisions and pass significant legislation during the height of an election period. The Mayor should’ve taken heed of that practice and done the right thing. As elected representatives, we should’ve backed the public and good process first and foremost.
“All of us agree around the council table agreed to the concept of intensification, and pleasingly there were some amendments passed last week to dial back some height and density issues.
“However, today the council notified widespread intensification when some of us wanted more strategic, sustainable and staged intensification around our town centres, growth nodes, and transport routes. That was the philosophy of the 1999 Auckland Regional Growth Strategy and that’s the direction we should have continued. No one wanted to put a bell jar over our suburbs but nor did it need to be so widespread.
“What we are going to see is a lot of pepper-pointed development around the region, changing our suburbs forever with a lot more infill and high-rise and a real loss of character. We’ll see the arrival of small scale apartments on amalgamated suburban sites with many of them non-notified, and subsequently a lot more angry neighbours and communities.
“Debate remains over whether we’ll get another million people yet we are intensifying our garden suburbs regardless. What’s more there remains little satisfaction that the likes of Watercare and Auckland Transport can provide adequate infrastructure for all this non-strategic intensification, and the council has yet to show any adequate budgetary provision going forward. Nor have we ever seen any of the required evidence that intensification is going to make Auckland a more a liveable city and better economically, environmentally, socially and culturally.
“So what was the rush?! This is after all the biggest and most profound document Auckland Council will sign off. The largest single unitary plan in the country if not Australasia. It affects the majority of Aucklanders’ residential zoning, and what their neighbours can do. The rush is because the Mayor knows he’s about to lose some of his key supporting councillors at the election, and so he could simply not wait any longer.
“Today in the debate I called for a short cuppa. The Mayor has done that on many of other occasions and a very concerned community needed him to do the same on this. It has been agreed that the second-term council is best placed to decide later this year who will be the next council CEO. We should’ve applied the same logic and had the next council also notify the Unitary Plan.
“A couple of months wouldn’t have made a big difference. No one will be out of a house. Commerce will not grind to a holt. But a couple of months would’ve given Aucklanders greater confidence and time to have more input on the many and far-reaching latest changes made to the plan over the past fortnight. Slowing it down a couple of months would’ve made for better decisions and ultimately a better plan. I was sorry my amendment earlier to do this failed to win majority political support.
“Pushing this through at the height of an election campaign is not only unnecessary, unprecedented, poor governance and poor process but it is morally wrong. It’s a sad day for the thousands of Aucklanders who submitted and turned up to community meetings hoping they’d be heard. This council has completely failed to take the people with them,” says Cameron Brewer.