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NZIA Cautions Against Dilution of Draft Unitary Plan

Media release 27 August 2013

NZIA Cautions Against Dilution of Draft Unitary Plan

As Auckland councillors head into a three-day meeting on the draft Unitary Plan the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) urges them to carefully consider the effect of any decisions that will dilute rules allowing for a more intensely populated city.

“We believe most Aucklanders agree with the Council’s position that growth largely within the existing urban boundary and around existing centres is far more desirable and sustainable than the alternative, which is a costly sprawl across the isthmus and into the countryside,” says Richard Goldie, chair of the NZIA’s Auckland branch.

“The Council has been careful to limit building heights in the mixed housing zone, with the trade-off being the possibility of more intensive use of building sites within the zone,” Goldie says.

“We think this strikes the right balance between a popular preference for lower buildings and the acknowledged need for more housing.”

The Council has put huge effort into producing the draft Unitary Plan, Goldie says, and rather than compromise its intent Councillors might be better to turn their attention to the issue of the quality of buildings within the mixed housing zone’s two ‘sub-zones’ – the mixed housing urban zone and mixed housing suburban zone.

“Community concerns about density are often really concerns about building quality. Auckland has many examples of well-designed and well-built medium-density housing, but unfortunately there is also a legacy of too many poorly planned apartment complexes.”

“The challenge for the Council, and for the construction sector – developers, architects and contractors – is to convince Aucklanders that intensive development does not mean mediocre buildings.”

“Work on intensification should go hand-in-hand with work on improving the quality of building design and construction,” Goldie says. “We think this should be a focus of Councillors’ attention.”

“The pressing issue for Auckland and for its Council is not how much building will be allowed in the mixed housing zone, but what standards are expected.”


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