15 Jan 2016

Intensified Auckland housing faces legal challenge

1:33 pm on 15 January 2016

An Auckland lobby group is considering legal action over a decision allowing Auckland Council to continue to push for more intensive housing.

Auckland housing. View from Mount Eden summit

Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

In announcing revised proposals for the city's Unitary Plan last month, the council said it wanted to rezone more suburban residential land for housing.

Lobby group Auckland 2040 believed the changes were outside of the scope of submissions on the plan, and said homeowners now directly affected should be able to make new submissions.

But an independent hearings panel has decided that late submissions would not be allowed, and it has also refused a request to reject the council's proposals.

Chair of Auckland 2040 Richard Burton said it was not the outcome they had hoped for and the decision effectively disenfranchised thousands of people.

Auckland 2040 said it would now consider legal action.

Housing density has been a contentious issue in some parts of Auckland, as the council grapples with how to accommodate a forecast increase in population of up to 1 million additional people by 2040.

The council is committed to what it calls a "compact city" model, with 60-70 percent of future growth accommodated inside its urban boundaries.

The proposal to intensify housing restore some of the capacity removed in September 2013, when councillors made last minute changes to the proposed unitary plan, watering-down some zone density.