21 Feb 2013

Aucklanders face debate over shape of communities

10:23 am on 21 February 2013

Aucklanders are to get an early look at the plan that will shape significant changes in their communities over the next three decades.

The Unitary Plan will dictate everything from protecting the city's environment to the height of apartment buildings in suburbs.

The document replaces 13 previous plans and runs to 7000 pages.

In a break with tradition, Aucklanders will be asked for their views from next month, before a formal draft is created for a second round of consultation.

That will pitch topics such as more intensive housing into the middle of local body electioneering.

Deputy mayor Penny Hulse says the Unitary Plan will actually be written by the community, the first time it has been done this way.

Ms Hulse says 10 weeks of informal consultation begins in mid March when the early version of the plan is published on the internet.

Auckland Council hopes the Government will reverse a refusal to allow fast-tracking of the plan, believing it will speed up construction of new styles of lower-priced housing.