Botany MP taking Stockade Hill fight to Parliament

Stockade Hill could soon be protected by legislation if a new push by Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross is successful.

Ross has prepared an amendment to the Urban Development Bill going through Parliament that would see Stockade Hill and land within a one kilometre radius designated as “protected land” and not subject to intensive development.

“Stockade Hill is such a special place to Howick,” he said.

“Our community’s long-running battle to ensure Stockade Hill is protected is all about making sure future generations can enjoy this wonderful asset.

“The Urban Development Bill going through Parliament is a threat to places like Stockade Hill. It effectively gives power to Kāinga Ora (formerly Housing NZ) and government ministers to override existing planning rules.

“Under this new law, Kāinga Ora can effectively designate an area as a Specified Development Project, purchase land for the project, change the planning rules, and then go ahead and develop that land.

“The normal appeal rights under the Resource Management Act are being set aside, meaning there would be very limited ability to stop any moves like this.”

The Urban Development Bill passed its second reading in Parliament on June 24 with Ross, National and ACT voting against the Bill proceeding.

Ross has now lodged a proposed amendment to be considered the next time the Bill is debated in Parliament to exclude Stockade Hill and a zone within a one-kilometre radius of Stockade Hill’s summit from the exercise of any power in the Bill, thereby absolutely protecting the excluded land from acquisition and development under the Bill.

“This amendment is especially important because Housing NZ was one of the strongest opponents to any form of protection around Stockade Hill.

“Tens of thousands of dollars in legal costs were spent by Housing NZ fighting the Council and ratepayer associations to enable development around Stockade Hill.

“They may have changed their name to Kāinga Ora, but the same organisation is on record wanting to see planning rules relaxed to enable intensive development in Howick.”

Speaking in Parliament last week the Minister for Urban Development Phil Twyford described the Urban Development Bill as giving Kāinga Ora access to a tool kit of development powers and access to land acquisition powers when undertaking any kind of urban development project.

“The tools will enable Kāinga Ora to develop multiple aspects of the urban environment with greater certainty, integration, and speed,” Mr Tywford said.

“The tool kit of development powers that come with a specified development project include streamlined RMA planning and consenting processes, powers to build and change network infrastructure such as roads … and public transport, and the ability to create or reconfigure parks and reserves.”

Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross on the summit of Stockade Hill overlooking Howick.

Ross says these powers go too far and local MPs need to fight to protect important heritage land and public assets.

“The Urban Development Bill is so broad that almost any land could be subject to Kāinga Ora swooping in,” he said.

“The Government has only proposed limited exemptions for places like conservation land and Maori customary land.

“This isn’t good enough and we need to see greater protections put in place.

“It would be extremely sad if many years of hard work by locals in Howick was all undone because we let Kāinga Ora’s push for fast-track housing take over.

“I am calling on other MPs to step up and vote for protecting Stockade Hill and surrounding land.”

The Urban Development Bill is expected to pass its final stages in Parliament before the September 19 election.