20 Sep 2011

Five weeks to have say on 30-year Auckland plan

4:30 pm on 20 September 2011

Auckland's mayor has defended the five weeks available for public comments on an unprecedented long-term development plan for the city.

The Auckland Plan, launched on Tuesday, deals with how to accommodate an extra one million residents, boost the region's economy and lift socially-deprived communities.

The region wants to transform its downtown and waterfront, house most of the extra residents inside existing urban limits, and lift the standard of living.

Legislation requires the plan to be finalised by Christmas.

The mayor, Len Brown, admits the five weeks for submissions, clashing with the Rugby World Cup, is not ideal. But he says Aucklanders responded well during initial submissions earlier this year.

"We're operating to a statutory timeframe," he says, "and we're also operating within an environment of Aucklanders wanting to see action."

Sue Henry of the advocacy group the Housing Lobby says debate should be extended through to March.

Goals 'achievable but not easy'

Business commentator Rod Oram says the economic goals are achievable but not easy. They involve trebling the current growth rate, he says, and will need to do more than just identify sectors like tourism, food and beverage and marine.

Government officials have taken part in drawing up the plan and Local Government Minister Rodney Hide believes it will get Beehive backing.

While the Government is severely financially constrained, he says, he expects it would support the plan if it were cost-neutral.

Aucklanders have until 25 October - two days after the Rugby World Cup final - to make their views known.