Monday, 22nd February, 2016
The simple fact that an extraordinary meeting of Auckland Council’s governing body has had to be called for this Wednesday to discuss its handling of a late zoning change submission to the Unitary Plan Hearings Panel is revealing in itself, says Michael Barnett, Auckland Chamber of Commerce CEO.
For Council to make an out of scope submission seeking to further intensify inner city suburbs knowing that it would disenfranchise most property owners of the right to respond was provocative.
“It is so irregular and undemocratic the likelihood that an extraordinary meeting would have to be called to deal with the outcry should have been assessed before the submission was lodged – where is the strategic thinking?
You’d think that given the huge changes Auckland is going through the Council leadership would want to operate in a way that ensures people are comfortable with its processes, said Mr Barnett.
The Council has some options that might help:
- It could withdraw the revised maps and to keep faith with its mandate to promote a compact city signal that it will do a plan change once the Unitary Plan is operational. This would enable those who didn’t submit in the city’s inner suburbs because they saw no threat in the proposed plan to make submissions; OR,
- Council could express confidence in the Hearings Panel “getting it right,” as the Chamber of Commerce, has done. It could step back and allow the submission to proceed knowing that it will still have options whatever zoning recommendation is made by the panel when Council votes on the final plan later in the year.
From the start of Auckland’s reform to create a single city an objective has been to secure our attractiveness and special character environment as a great city to live, work and visit.
“Destroying the special character of Auckland by further compacting well-established inner city suburbs would be stupid for a number of reasons, but especially when it is very clear that there are large areas of Auckland’s south and west seeking to intensify and grow their population and business opportunities,” concluded Mr Barnett.