9 Jun 2023

Developers oppose Auckland Council plan to stop greenfield housing development on city outskirts

5:31 pm on 9 June 2023

Greenfield work occurs on undeveloped land on city outskirts (file image). Photo:

Developers are opposing Auckland Council's proposal to stop housing being built on some greenfield areas on the city's outskirts.

The council's Future Development Strategy for the next 30 years is open for public feedback for the next four weeks, until 4 July.

It recommends building most new housing in existing suburbs (often referred to as brownfield development) and delaying or stopping work on some undeveloped land (greenfield development), to reduce emissions and avoid high infrastructure costs.

A group of more than 50 developers and businesses oppose the plan, which they say puts too many limits on where housing can be built during a shortage.

They have launched a campaign, Future Auckland, to encourage residents to give council their feedback.

Among them, Signature Homes chief executive Paul Bull said building housing on undeveloped land helped to provide affordable housing.

"Restricting greenfield development will limit Aucklanders' options and have the reverse effect on intensification pricing as demand lifts due to limited options."

He was concerned there would not be enough time for comprehensive feedback.

"It's absolutely absurd that New Zealand's largest and most densely populated city has a four-week consultation period to determine infrastructure plans for the next 30 years," Bull said.

"Council need to engage with industry experts to carefully map out solutions that suit all demographics, infrastructure solutions, public transport solutions, education and all other elements of life Aucklanders undertake."

The New Zealand Initiative is also part of the campaign and its chief economist Eric Crampton said wider problem existed with the proposal.

"Auckland's Future Development Strategy needs substantial revision if Auckland is ever to have affordable housing. But the council funding and financing environment that caused that strategy is in dire need of attention."

Auckland Council's draft strategy stated that focusing growth in existing urban areas, rather than more growth on the edges, results in improvements to the environment, the economy, and people's wellbeing.

The council also aims to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050.

Its Planning, Environment and Parks Committee chairperson, councillor Richard Hills, said they wanted to hear from Aucklanders.

"The Future Development Strategy looks at the big issues around growth that affect our quality of life - things like where we choose to live and work, how we move around our city, our resilience to natural hazards and growing in a way that both reduces emissions and adapts to climate change, to benefit future generations," he said.

The council said its proposal to delay or stop development in specific greenfield areas that had previously been identified for future urban development was due to natural hazard risk, impacts on its ability to halve emissions and the high infrastructure costs associated with such development.

The Future Development Strategy also maps out urban areas in Auckland that are most constrained by natural hazards.

Auckland Council's general manager of the Auckland Plan, strategy and research, Jacques Victor, said it was important for the city to have a clear, agreed plan for managing its growth.

"The 10-year budget, also known as the Long-term Plan, which decides where Auckland Council's funds go over a 10-year period, is due to be refreshed early next year and so it is important we have the Future Development Strategy adopted by then so it can influence our investments."

Auckland residents can give feedback via the council's website online until 4 July.

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