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Fast-tracking 'slap in the face'

JESS ETHERIDGE
Last updated 05:00 27/03/2014

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A fast-tracked special housing project is a slap in the face and goes against the democratic process Auckland strives for, a political trio says.

Confidential emails and maps released to Kaipatiki Local Board members John Gillon, Lorene Pigg and Grant Gillon show central Northcote is set to become a Special Housing Area.

It means the consent process for new houses is fast-tracked and many of the "shabby" Housing New Zealand properties upgraded.

Auckland Council and the Government decide on Special Housing Area locations. Many dwellings in the area, which runs between Tonar St, Potter Ave and Raleigh and College roads, are damp and and unhealthy.

John Gillon says he is not opposed to upgrades but they can be done at any time without bypassing consultation.

Many Northcote residents would have spoken out on the proposed Unitary Plan but this process makes it redundant, Mr Gillon says.

Only immediate neighbours would be consulted on properties being upgraded, he says.

Kaipatiki chairwoman Kay McIntyre says consultation is still on the cards but how wide it will be is unknown. Any houses built have to comply with the Unitary Plan, she says.

The current 150 houses will be retained but the number built could expand.

Housing NZ gave the board an example of increasing housing in the area up to 450 dwellings, she says, but it is not set in stone.

Two other Special Housing Areas were mooted in Beach Haven and Sunnybrae Rd but the latter was removed for unknown reasons.

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Former Kaipatiki Local Board chairwoman Lindsay Waugh is defending her role in the Special Housing Area process, saying she was asked last term to put forward suggestions.

Member John Gillon claims she acted outside her power by ‘‘lobbying’’ on behalf of the board for a  Special Housing Area.

Emails released to Mr Gillon show Ms Waugh and Auckland Council officers discussed Northcote as a possible Special Housing Area for the initiative’s second phase.

Kaipatiki Local Board had voted against being included in that phase, he says.

Ms Waugh says she was ‘‘stimulating’’ the process to get Northcote upgraded because  it had been stalled for six years.

She says she would never have made a decision as it would always come back to the board.

Northcote has ‘‘real potential’’, she says.

Current Kaipatiki chairwoman Kay McIntyre says the board does not make the decision, because  it is up to the council and the Government

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- North Shore Times

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