18 Feb 2016

Akl mayor tries to defuse housing density division

12:16 pm on 18 February 2016

Auckland's mayor is trying to defuse political division over future housing density by putting the issue before a special council meeting next week.

Homes at the Waimahia development in Weymouth in Auckland.

Homes at the Waimahia development in Weymouth in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

A group of councillors has been pushing for the council to withdraw plans to seek housing density higher than previously agreed in some areas.

Mayor Len Brown said the issue would be dealt with next Wednesday, following a meeting last night where five councillors opposed the council's case, which is due to be heard next month by an Independent Hearing Panel.

The group wants property owners to have a say on the changes in the council's submission to the Unitary Plan hearing, unveiled last December.

Mr Brown said there would be a closed-door discussion on the issue later today, but he cautioned against expectations of big change next week.

"Given the very legal nature of the Unitary Plan, the very clearly agreed process that we all agreed to, and the significant role that we're playing in partnership with the government on this matter," he told councillors at today's governing body meeting.

Councillor Dick Quax, who opposes the higher density housing argument, welcomed the move.

"I'm very grateful for the opportunity at the extraordinary meeting next week to discuss this in an open forum," he said

Mr Brown told councillors he had this week assured the government that he was committed to delivering the city's 30-year development blueprint on time, by October.

Political rumblings began in December, when the council unveiled an amended case to go to the Unitary Plan Independent Hearing Panel.

That included an increase in the three-story Mixed Housing Urban zone, from 11 percent of the residential zone to 17 percent.

The council has revised its case after work done by the panel showed the 2013 Proposed Unitary Plan, drawn up by the council, didn't provide for enough useable housing capacity to accommodate future growth.

The higher density revision sparked a community meeting in the eastern suburbs last week, attended by 700 residents.

The hearings panel will in July finalise its recommendations on the Unitary Plan, leaving the council to accept or reject its findings shortly before october's local body elections.