11 Mar 2016

Housing NZ's highest-density plan for Auckland

8:21 am on 11 March 2016

Housing New Zealand has revealed its plan for building higher density homes across Auckland.

Quarry land being cleared for housing in Three Kings in Auckland.

Housing New Zealand has proposed increased density in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Kim Baker Wilson

It proposes more intensification in both wealthy and poorer areas, than the council.

For the first time it has produced zoning maps that it hopes will be adopted in the city's 30-year blueprint: the Unitary Plan.

From leafy suburbs such as Westmere, to state house heartland in Mount Roskill, Housing New Zealand wants more town houses and apartments.

It has told the independent panel considering the Unitary Plan that Housing New Zealand land could handle more than double the current 31,000 dwellings.

Housing New Zealand currently owns 30,800 homes in Auckland, and said its proposal could add a further 39,000 on the same area of land.

The state-owned corporation is the biggest owner of housing in Auckland, and said its view was in line with a cabinet-endorsed ministerial submission to the Independent Panel considering the proposed plan.

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The suburb of Westmere in the low-density 2013 plan. Photo: Supplied

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The suburb of Westmere in the higher-density 2016 now withdrawn plan. Photo: Supplied

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Housing NZ's proposal for Westmere Photo: Supplied

It said the increased capacity was double that offered in the Proposed Unitary Plan, as it was signed-off by Auckland councillors in 2013.

That's the plan now being debated.

More than 30 zoning maps presented by Housing New Zealand, show higher density zonings than proposed by the council in evidence filed in January.

That was prior to the council having to detune some of those plans following a political revolt by councillors, last month.

HNZ's proposals cover not only those suburbs where it is a significant landowner, but also wealthier suburbs where it said the same principles should apply, of intensification along transport routes or close to town and employment centres.

An example of how proposed densities have ramped up over the past three years can be seen in three maps showing the wealthy city-fringe suburb of Westmere.

The 2013 proposed Unitary Plan signed-off by councillors shows most of the suburb in the pale-coloured single house zone.

In the beefed-up 2016 council version - now withdrawn - nearly half of the single house zone had become two-storeyed town houses, called mixed housing suburban.

There is also a big area of three-storeyed dwellings in the darker shaded mixed house urban zone.

The third map is Housing New Zealand's proposal which does away entirely with the single house zone, leaving Westmere with a central core of two-storeyed zoning, surrounded by three storeys.

Housing New Zealand has begun presenting its views at the same time that Auckland Council expert witnesses are being kept away from the crucial residential zoning hearings.

The council made the move after councillors voted 13-8 a fortnight ago, to remove some of the most recent proposed upzonings.

The council accepted legal advice that if its expert witnesses attended they could still have to argue for zonings no longer supported by the politicians.

Housing New Zealand's counsel Dr Claire Kirman told the hearing that the corporation largely supported the now withdrawn council proposals, and that it would summons the expert witnesses for cross-examination.

The panel must compile a final version of the Unitary Plan by 22 July, and pass it to the Auckland Council to accept or to reject in part, raising the possibility of appeals.