16 Jun 2014

Dismay at criticism of Auckland plan

12:15 pm on 16 June 2014

The Environmental Defence Society is "astounded" the Government has heavily criticised Auckland's housing plan but not spoken to the council nor provided experts to back its concerns.

The Government wants to see substantial changes to Auckland's 30-year blueprint for the city because it fears the plans won't provide enough houses and will drive up prices.

Amy Adams.

Amy Adams. Photo: SUPPLIED

The criticisms are revealed in a Cabinet-approved submission on the Auckland Council's Unitary Plan.

In the submission, Environment Minister Amy Adams said the proposed rules were overly complex and needed to be simplified.

The current plan would not cope with projected population growth and more land should be freed up for housing developments and more houses to be built in existing suburbs, she said.

Ms Adams believed failure to make the changes could have far-reaching economic and social consequences for both the city and the country, and said the council must make hard decisions now to meet the long-term needs of the Auckland region.

Environmental Defence Society chairman Gary Taylor disagreed with some of those points and said it was hard to fathom why Ms Adams was not proposing to call expert witnesses or appear before the panel herself to provide evidence of her concerns.

"She's just tabling the written submission and expecting everybody to kind of fall over themselves in agreement. Well that isn't how the process works."

Ms Adams said her Government had said all it needed to and she did not believe talking in person would add any weight to their arguments.

Urban planner Joel Cayford said it was unusual and inappropriate for the Government to be making a submission at this stage.

"For the minister to come in with what appears to me to be a politically inspired and inappropriate method of interference from Wellington, after the council has considered the draft plan, a submission that's going to be considered by independent set of commissioners ... what is she expecting them to do with it?"

Mr Cayford said the Government's proposed changes would favour developers.