29 Sep 2016

Unitary plan legal bid will delay affordable homes - architect

9:08 am on 29 September 2016

A High Court appeal to fight the higher-density zones set out in Auckland's Unitary Plan will lead to an even longer wait for affordable homes, says an architect.

Housing construction in an East Auckland suburb

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

Lobby groups Auckland 2040 and the Character Coalition have gone to court for a judicial review of the decision to allow more townhouses and apartments in areas previously reserved for single homes on sections.

The legal action could take at least a year and a report prepared for Thursday's Auckland Council meeting said, until it was resolved the legal action would have a major impact on some proposed housing developments.

Construkt Architects director David Gibbs, an advocate for high density housing, told Morning Report this would mean a delay in delivering affordable homes.

"Auckland 2040's application basically says that the panel had no right to draw the planning maps as they had done, and that really strikes at the heart of the Unitary Plan. So it's really hard to see it not affecting an awful lot of applications."

Mr Gibbs said Aucklanders seeking affordable homes would just have to wait until the court made a decision.

Labour said the government needed to step in to make sure court action did not derail the Unitary Plan.

Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford told Morning Report the government must legislate to ensure the Unitary Plan was operable now, so construction could begin.

"If we don't deliver that reform, if we don't make room for a growing population, and we keep this lid on the city that stops the city from growing up, then we are never, ever going to fix this housing crisis, and our kids will never own their own homes in this city again."

Auckland 2040 chair Richard Burton said the groups would argue the zones had gone beyond the scope of what could be decided by the plan's independent hearings panel and adopted by the council.

Read the report prepared for the council - including a list of appeals so far

In total, 65 smaller appeals have been lodged with the Environment Court about the Auckland Unitary Plan. There have been 41 appeals on points of law to the High Court, and eight parties were seeking judicial reviews.

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