Secret plans allowing "dramatic intensification" in Auckland are being rushed through without proper public consultation, Kaipatiki Local Board member Grant Gillon says.
Mr Gillon says he is "very nervous about the real reasons for the rushed time-frames, closed-door discussions and lack of true consultation" around Auckland Council's unitary plan.
The unitary plan will guide all development in Auckland, including where intensive housing and high rise can go. It replaces all district and regional plans.
Mr Gillon fears the council wants to prevent legal challenges by convincing the government to only allow appeals on points of law.
“What I have seen to date is very concerning, even frightening. We have been told that the briefings, and the associated very detailed maps, are confidential and we cannot discuss them with the community," Mr Gillon says.
"Yet these discussions will have dramatic, perhaps detrimental, effects on our communities for generations to come."
Deputy mayor Penny Hulse says the Auckland Plan set out that 60 percent of intensification would be in existing urban areas so people shouldn't be too surprised at the unitary plan.
"We're translating what a compact city means," she says.
Mrs Hulse admits it won't be until March next year that the draft plan is public and open for comment but says early discussions involve local boards and key groups.
Public feedback will shape the proposed plan that is formally notified for submissions in about October next year, she says.
Mrs Hulse says the council is keen to address concerns about urban design and heritage protection quickly but if appeals are allowed it could delay its introduction by up to 10 years.
Environment Court appeals tend to involve issues like one supermarket not wanting its competitor to set up and not community concerns, she says.
The council says it has slowed the process down by six months to increase consultation.
Planning started 18 months ago with input from businesses, environmental and community organisations, technical experts and other stakeholders.
But Mr Gillon believes there should be earlier and more extensive public involvement.
Local board workshops exclude the public so they have no idea what elected members are in effect deciding about the future of their neighbourhoods, he says.
"As a result any future public consultation will be focused on new plans that have already been confirmed behind closed doors," he says.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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