8 Mar 2016

Panel puts off housing density evidence ruling

6:12 pm on 8 March 2016

The independent panel considering Auckland's Unitary Plan has put off ruling on contentious housing density evidence that has been withdrawn by the council.

Auckland Council has withdrawn part of its evidence, after a political revolt by councillors unhappy that some areas were proposed for upzoning without public input.

Judge David Kirkpatrick

Judge David Kirkpatrick Photo: RNZ / Todd Niall

It told the panel this morning that expert witnesses would not appear at any

of the residential zoning hearings, because they might be quizzed on the withdrawn evidence.

Housing New Zealand, which is seeking some densities higher than the council proposed,

told the panel it wished to adopt some of the withdrawn evidence and call council witnesses.

"Housing New Zealand had relied on the council evidence, and has not had time to produce its own evidence before submitting in two days time," said counsel Claire Kirman.

That was opposed by lobby group Auckland 2040 which led public opposition to

the higher-density proposals.

The group wanted the withdrawn evidence to be struck out completely.

"Evidence is presented when the witness is sitting there and the microphone is on," its solicitor Richard Brabant told the hearing.

Judge David Kirkpatrick, who was chairing the hearing, said a decision would be made later on how to deal with the council's withdrawn evidence and witnesses.

The Unitary Plan hearings are entering their final months, with the next two including the most contentious issue of higher-density housing.

Councillors had been given legal advice prior to voting ten days ago that withdrawing only part of the council evidence would have serious legal consequences for the council proposal.

The legal opinion warned that expert witnesses may not be able to withdrawn from only part of the case, and may not be able to appear on any aspect of re-zoning.

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