More latitude advocated

Waikato's Property Council is hopeful the new district plan for Hamilton will result in city council planners being given more authority to make decisions and less use of consultants.

Council spokesman Graham Dwyer said it was clear at a Property Council-organised public workshop to discuss the plan this week that the city council wants commercial property developers, house builders and developers to lift their design and planning game.

"As a result the [city] council will need to lift their game too. We are hoping to see more authority delegated to staff and less reference to external sources.

"They need to beef up their authority," Dwyer said.

The city's planners "can be really good at it" if they were given freer rein, he said. "We are encouraging this."

The workshop on Monday in the city attracted around 70 commercial and residential builders, townhouse developers, investors, and land developers including Tainui Group Holdings, Dwyer said.

Attendees included Mayor Julie Hardaker, councillors, planners and senior council managers, and the Historic Places Trust, he said.

To the suggestion that many Hamiltonians would cringe at the prospect of council staff getting more authority given the recent string of negative events involving them, such as the "floodgate" letter mailout debacle and council over-spending, Dwyer said "half the problem" is that staff are not given enough authority to make decisions and instead run to consultants.

The Property Council is a national organisation representing the interests of commercial and industrial investors and developers.

Waikato Times