10 Feb 2016

Owners feel 'duped' over housing plans

7:00 am on 10 February 2016

Hundreds of Aucklanders, worried about plans to build taller houses on smaller sections, made their feelings known in a meeting in Kohimarama last night.

About 700 people turned up to a meeting in Kohimarama last night, to learn about plans which let people build taller houses on smaller sections.

Organisers had to put out extra seating, and use the stands above, to fit the crowds in.

Photo: RNZ / Alex Ashton

The changes fall under the city's Unitary Plan - its blueprint for the next 30 years.

It was standing room only at last night's meeting, with the first few hundred chairs filling fast, and hundreds more having to sit in the stands above.

Among them were banker Ben Grimer and nurse Anna Macky, who bought their Panmure home last May.

They moved from London and poured their life savings into the house.

But late last year Auckland Council announced changes to its initial plan - to get more infill housing into the city.

Mr Grimer and Ms Macky said those changes meant more of their neighbourhood would be set aside for three-storey houses.

"This means that we'll have a three- to four-storey apartment building directly behind our house, on our boundary - and we've got the driveway next to our house which will be 20, 30 cars coming against our house," said Ms Macky.

Anna Macky and Ben Grimer

Anna Macky and Ben Grimer Photo: RNZ / Alex Ashton

Mr Grimer said they had a 2-year-old girl and wanted to have more children.

"It's not what we wanted. We feel so entirely duped by the council."

The updated Unitary Plan bumped the amount of medium density land - where three-storey buildings could go - from 11 percent to 17 percent.

Most of the increases were in central areas, where the public transport could cope with more people.

Mr Grimer and Ms Macky said they were now tossing up whether to sell.

"We wanted a backyard for our children to play in, and that's now going to be towered over by an apartment building," said Ms Macky.

The meeting was run by eastern suburb community boards who said it was their areas which would see the most change.

Mission Bay Kohimarama Residents' Association chair Don Stock said under the new zoning proposal, most of the east would be deemed 'mixed housing urban'.

"Which is three-storey - and as three-storey, you end up having to put in lifts, and you end up with apartment blocks and people living above each other," he said.

"That will be the predominant nature of these suburbs in the long term."

Not all at the meeting were against the changes.

Zoe Lenzie-Smith, 23, said the intensification was not necessarily a bad thing.

Zoe Lenzie-Smith Photo: RNZ / Alex Ashton

Zoe Lenzie-Smith, 23, said she was struck by how much younger she was than the others there.

She said more intensive housing would help make Auckland liveable in the future.

"There's been a lot of scaremongering around what those gentle changes actually are - and I think we need some real information on the table, not just some data that nobody understands."

The council said under the new proposals, three quarters of the city's residential land would still be zoned for one or two-storey houses.

The suggested changes would go to an independent panel in March and April this year, along with submissions for and against.

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