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Shore density to surge under government plan

Flagstaff Team

Population density will explode on the North Shore following the government decision to allow three homes of three storeys on sites across Auckland.

Intensification is already moving rapidly across the Devonport-Takapuna Local Board area, with record numbers of building consents lodged in the last 12 months (as reported in the Observer of 15 October).

Multi-unit developments are already underway or in the planning and consenting stage from Sunnynook south.

But this will only accelerate and the areas affected expand under a bill – backed by both the government and the National Party Opposition – aimed at enabling greater housing supply. The moves announced last week mean sites in the Single House and Mixed Housing Suburban zones in Hauraki, Takapuna and Milford have effectively been rezoned – opening up thousands of sites for development.

The single-house zone is mostly confined to the coastal strip from Clifton Rd to Castor Bay, around Lake Pupuke, with a small patch of homes in Prospect Terrace, Milford.

Large swathes of Hauraki, Milford, Forrest Hill and Sunnynook are Mixed Housing Suburban.

Combined with the National Policy Statement on Urban Development released earlier this year, the government has effectively directed city councils to increase density in all urban areas, especially around major transport nodes.

In Takapuna this means multi-storeyed apartment blocks will be allowed between the commercial area and Smales Farm – which has already been rezoned for high-rise tower apartments.

Under the latest government announcement, housing will be allowed to be 11m high, with a building site coverage of up to 50 per cent. The intensification policy – which is expected to become law by August 2023 – has been rammed through without any government commitment to help fund extra infrastructure or public transport, something which has infuriated local politicians, who felt broadsided by the announcement.

Heritage, natural hazards and open space provided for public use are included in mitigating factors where development can be limited. But the government said this does “not necessarily prohibit development”. Councils can “reduce the amount of development allowed so the feature is managed appropriately”.

North Shore councillor Chris Darby, who chairs Auckland Council’s planning committee, said the government announcement was ill-considered. “It’s a desktop exercise in a vacuum in Wellington… they have made significant amendments to the Unitary Plan and planning rules in Auckland without the expertise to do so,” he said.

Auckland Council had become aware that the government “was working something up”, Darby said, but had been rebuffed when it was asked to be included.

“It’s disappointing when you have been sitting around the table with ministers and officers taking part in working through the issues and then one party does it in isolation.”

Darby said on a national scale the development fast-tracking would not add that many more homes. Auckland was already processing record consents.

The wider problem was funding the infrastructure and public transport to support the growth, he said. Other issues included the cost of building materials and the shortage of tradespeople to do the work.

Initially it was believed the changes were to be made by “edict”, Darby said. But council had at least been given a few weeks to provide feedback.

The Rangitoto Observer can be downloaded online here.

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