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Unitary plan aimed at housing issue

DELWYN DICKEY
Last updated 05:00 04/12/2012
Auckland Unitary Plan

HOMES ON THE HORIZON: More than 55,000 new homes are likely to be catered for in Rodney under the Auckland Unitary Plan.

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Being out in the boondocks could be a good thing as far as the Auckland Unitary Plan goes.

The plan will take over from 12 existing regional and district plans, some of which are more than a decade old.

Few changes are on the cards in the northern area during the next 10 years, with most of the big changes closer to the city centre.

Auckland's population of 1.5 million people is expected to grow by a million during the next 30 years.

This will see an additional 400,000 homes needed with about 70 per cent planned within the metropolitan limits.

Growth focused in centres close to public transport.

Housing more people while constraining urban sprawl will see the city go up rather than out.

And this may be where the Unitary Plan could come up against the strongest opposition.

Where exactly these changes will take place and what form they will take will be put to communities through local plans.

The area plan for the Hibiscus and Eastern Bays area is one of the first undertaken in Auckland, with others following. But not all will be done by the time the Unitary Plan comes into force, including Rodney's.

At least 55,000 new homes are likely to be catered for in Rodney, mainly in Warkworth, Kumeu, Riverhead and around the Dairy Flat/Silverdale area.

The Hibiscus and Bays Plan provides for more than 24,000 new homes. These include 1800 at Millwater, 2800 in Orewa West, 1500 at Gulf Harbour, 550 at the proposed Weiti village south of Stillwater, and 2800 at Long Bay.

The Upper Harbour area of Albany, Hobsonville and Greenhithe will get 40,000 new residents.

Strong growth is planned around the 10 metropolitan centres - Albany, Botany, Henderson, Manukau, New Lynn, Newmarket, Papakura, Sylvia Park, Takapuna and Westgate/Massey North.

Higher developments along public transport routes could see up to three storey terraced and low-rise apartments for along much of transport route East Coast Rd, running behind the East Coast Bays.

Getting people to support development, even with urban design aimed at keeping an "urban village" feel to centres, may be one of the Auckland Council's biggest challenges.

Some are seeing one developer's ongoing attempts to gain permission for a high-rise development for Milford mall, currently a single level centre, as a test case on how accepting people will be.

These plans include a series of three tower apartments with a maximum height of 12 storeys, with 235 apartments.

The Milford plans have brought strong opposition from many residents and the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board who say it will destroy the character of the beach suburb of Milford village, and intensification of this type should happen in Takapuna which they say is already a transport hub.

Takapuna looks set to go up to eight floors in places.

Further north, four-storey limits in the town centres of Orewa, Silverdale, Whangaparaoa and Browns Bay seem to be the highest in the northern area.

Changes to allow further development of central Orewa, Silverdale and Whangaparaoa go on the back burner in the first 10 years with changes in the Eastern Bays from Long Bay to Campbells Bay coming first, including at Browns Bay.

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Warkworth is going to see changes mostly tied up with the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway extension, which could be completed in 2019, Rodney Local Board chairman Bob Howard says.

The Rodney board has been discussing planning with residents and ratepayer groups across the district, and the Helensville business association.

A lack of land for new housing and affordability for new home buyers are among some of the concerns raised.

Though it says there is plenty of land for greenfield developments, the council is looking at a pilot housing project at Hobsonville Point by developers the Hobsonville Land Company.

It aims to promote innovation in section size and building design.

"The key to meeting Auckland's future housing needs is providing a greater range of quality housing choices for people at all stages of life," Auckland deputy mayor Penny Hulse says.

"This pilot project will show the commercial viability and market appeal of smaller houses on smaller sections."

She says the council is working closely with the government and the developer to ensure zoning and other regulations support opportunities to promote innovation in section size and building design.

Partnership between central and local government, as well as the commercial property sector, is crucial to address Auckland's housing issues, Mrs Hulse says.

- Rodney Times

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