Call to arms over housing intensification plans

LIZ WILLIS
Last updated 05:00 04/12/2012
Tony Holman
FIGHT BACK: Former councillor Tony Holman says residents should prepare to fight back against the many frightening things in the Unitary Plan.

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Intolerably crowded roads, buses, parks and beaches are on the way if plans to intensify Auckland go ahead.

That's the warning from former councillor Tony Holman who also represented the Shore on the former Auckland Regional Growth Forum.

Over the next 30 years Auckland Council is planning for up to 280,000 new homes within urban limits and up to 160,000 outside.

Auckland Plan chairwoman Penny Hulse says some people are scaremongering over intensification and the council is working with local boards to get community feedback.

The council's Unitary Plan setting out development rules isn't due out until March but a backlash has already started.

Mr Holman says many things about the plan create a "frightening prospect" for existing residents.

"At the core of it is that a plan is being created which will be foreign to the New Zealand way of life and will be imposed upon us, to our everlasting detriment," he says.

"This is the plan to rapidly ‘densify' large swathes of the region with apartments of four to eight storeys as the ‘norm' and high rise possibilities way beyond that."

There is a housing crisis but "half-baked quick fixes" like "density high rise slums" create new housing and social problems, he says.

Mrs Hulse says intensification will provide a greater variety of homes, therefore providing more affordable solutions.

She says some people have been spreading nonsense and "political muckraking" over intensification and asked whether the North Shore Times had an agenda over this issue.

Mrs Hulse says no Unitary Plan decisions have been made and the council is genuine about consultation.

But Mr Holman says the plan is being developed largely out of public view and widespread support or opposition is not being created. He urges people to join residents groups to help get the information.

"Once you see the four or eight-storey block, or worse, going up next to you, it will be far too late. There could be one either side of you before too long."

There is no guarantee intensification will provide more affordable, or more desirable, housing in Auckland, he says.

"The basic problem is the irrefutable laws of supply and demand: An increasing supply of people demanding use of a fixed supply of land."

Another option considered by the Growth Forum was to promote satellite towns, of about 100,000, within easy reach of metropolitan Auckland, linked by rapid rail.

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Places such as Helensville, Huntly and Hamilton were suggested, he says.

Better solutions are needed and the public needs to be included and listened to during the debate, Mr Holman says.

"It seems to me that we are being led along a path littered with platitudes about inevitability, growth is good, bigger is better."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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