Building industry threatens legal action on changes

Hamilton's building industry is threatening legal action over what it calls the council's lack of consultation in the rollout of the new building rules.

Property developers, architects and builders gathered yesterday to form an "organised incorporation" to fight the council on the rules which restrict their building plans, saying their consultation was inadequate.

The new rules require the garage to be set a metre back from the front of the house and require at least one window and the front door to face the street, and also stipulate clear visibility be maintained between the house and the road.

The changes are aimed at cutting down crime by improving urban design, but builders and architects were scathing in the criticism of it at yesterday's meeting hosted at the Master Builders Federation's Hamilton base.

Property developer and founder of Jennian Homes, Ian Patton, is developing the Glaisdale subdivision north of the city - part of the area affected by the new rules - and said the rule change had been sprung on builders. "I find this unacceptable. I don't think that it's council place to be prescripting (sic) these rules and that's what this is."

Mr Patton said he has been developing the site with streetscape in mind and had already measured out sections which may now need to be changed under council regulation - costing $1800-$2200 per section.

"And this is all new to us . . . We didn't know this was coming," he said. "They've got to do away with their $2000 application fee, it's just robbery."

Mr Patton said he understood the council needed rules but they should be working with builders, architects and developers, as they all had the same common goal.

"I guess we're all in the same canoe and I mean the council, ourselves as developers and you guys as builders and we're really all paddling in the same direction and we really do want a modern superior environment to build our houses."

Architect Andrew Bydder agreed saying Rototuna would look like Flat Bush in Auckland - predictable and undesirable under the rules.

"We can achieve better outcomes without the rules," he said.

Alec Burns said council was forcing them to produce "terrible architecture at a bigger cost".

"What gets me is that it's the homeowner that's paying this," he said.

Rototuna resident Martin Toop said he believes that there has been a lack of research and he was interested to see "how these planners talk with ordinary people".

"Where is the evidence that proves all this crime prevention? . . . It's absolute nonsense. Absolute and utter nonsense," he said. "There obviously hasn't been adequate discussion or time for adequate discussion on this."

Hamilton City council general manager of city environments Brian Croad could not be reached for comment but has previously said the council would work with people affected.

Waikato Times