Thursday, April 25, 2024

Cr: Rural settlements blocked from becoming sustainable

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Beachlands had doubled in size and, without further growth, the area would not be allowed a secondary school by the Ministry of Education. File photo Wayne Martin

By Laura Kvigstad, Auckland Council reporter
Funded by New Zealand on Air

An Auckland Councillor has expressed concerns that Auckland Council’s draft Future Development Strategy blocks future sustainability for rural settlements.

At the Planning, Environment and Parks committee on May 4, councillors supported the draft Future Development Strategy for consultation.

The strategy will help to guide council on where development should be supported for the next 30 years.

By 2053, council estimates Auckland’s population will grow to over 2.2 million. This would mean an additional 200,000 dwellings and 282,600 additional jobs would be needed to match the growth over the next 30 years.

Growth & Spatial Strategy principal advisor Claire Gray said the strategy takes a quality compact approach. “Thinking about employment closer to homes, reducing the need to travel and creating really strong centres in those sub-regions,” Gray said.

Cr Andy Baker said the strategy “slams the door” on development for rural settlements, preventing them from being able to become sustainable.

“Previous planning decisions have been made that have created these remote urban settlements that do contribute intensely [to emissions] because people do have to travel,” Baker said.

He asked how rural settlements that were more urban had been factored into the strategy.
Auckland Plan Strategy and Research general manager Jacques Victor said the strategic direction was to not have a great deal of development in “far flung” areas because of the emissions.

The “approach is that we should not continue to expand small rural settlements with further over development that then requires additional infrastructure,” Victor said.
“To make them sustainable means you will have to add significant urban expansion which has to be funded for which there probably is not funding.”

Baker said he would not support the strategy for consultation while it failed to allow rural settlements the ability to become sustainable.

“The only way we mitigate those issues, the climate, the environment is by actually allowing growth to create scale. It is quite a perverse sort of situation,” Baker said.

“We deny the ability for those types of settlements to be able to create the work, live situation and this strategy does nothing to allow that.”

He said Beachlands had doubled in size and without further growth, the area would not be allowed a secondary school by the Ministry of Education.

“Every day 12 buses line up to take secondary school age children to schools in Howick and in Pakuranga and elsewhere in Auckland because there is no secondary school.”

While Baker said he did not want to see rural areas growing houses as opposed to growing food but where appropriate development needed to be enabled.

Consultation for the draft strategy was passed with 12 votes in favour.

Baker was among 10 councillors who voted against consultation for the plan including Mike Lee, Greg Sayers, Sharon Stewart, Wayne Walker, John Watson and Maurice Williamson.
Public consultation for the draft strategy is expected to begin in June.

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