Thursday, June 13, 2024

Plan change intensification across New Zealand

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Throughout New Zealand, which includes Botany, Pakuranga and Howick, people need to be informed over how intensification is going to affect their cities and suburban areas in the future.

A ring drawn around a town centre enabling high rise does not reveal the huge potential impact of changes being imposed, while there is nothing being reported or said about this in our media.

According to my calculations, the Botany area excluding the commercial centre, covers an area of approximately 640 acres [259 hectares]. If 500 acres was converted to the six-storey high minimum density, after allowing for roading and reserves, then the population in this area could increase by 200,000 [or more] matching the population of greater Hamilton but over a mere 1.6 kilometres square!

Allowing conservatively for one child per new apartment created, this would require 25 new schools with capacity for 2000 students in each to be built. But there is no undeveloped land in this suburban area to accommodate this future need. Nor is there any land for the necessary area of passive and active parks for this number of people.

Plus the additional pressure on the existing transport network of buses to a single railway station at Panmure, accessed by other areas too, also being intensified, would be completely unsustainable.

There is no proposal or provision to extend the transport service in Council’s 2040 plan. There is also no requirement for developers to provide car parking, likely because the authorities know people would be unable to move far if using a car.

The very day after the plan was notified, Auckland Council suggested people travelling less than 6 kms ( not the walkable 800 metres now) should be restricted in the use of their car.

Just what is going on?

This assessment doesn’t include the additional impact from triple density housing also to be permitted on every section in New Zealand. What on earth are the authorities thinking?

They are clearly not – or they are merely providing battery (hen) housing for human beings. This is not the Kiwi way or dream. It is not remotely workable, and it is completely unacceptable.

Furthermore the Plan is not being “proposed” as notified. It is actually being ‘imposed’ under an amendment to the RMA and, accordingly, came into effect the day it was notified (August 18).

Unlike normal Plan Changes under the RMA, there is no right of appeal to an independent Environment Court where people could raise such concerns. Instead, the Minister for the Environment has the final say, which is clearly not arm’s length when this is being dictated by government. i.e. this is not democratic or just under historic environment law.

The people are being given a very limited power of “submission” only over radical change to the nature and scale of residential housing. Cities, towns and areas with more than 5000 people in New Zealand are subject to such change, unless areas are exempted under “qualifying matters” which in Auckland was not a transparent process conducted under notification, but rather through informal consultation prior.

The people of New Zealand must use their limited power of submission now before September 29 when this very narrow window of opportunity closes (after which the Plan is set in concrete) to demand answers from their Council and government over how services, such as the above and more, will be provided.

We must require government and our authorities to demonstrate, as any other applicant is required to do, that the quality of our cities, local environments, amenities and people’s lives, will be assured, maintained and enhanced, as still required under the law (RMA).

Victoria Lowe,
Shamrock Park

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