High Court backs decision to increase Auckland housing density

6:46 pm on 13 February 2017

A High Court ruling has delivered a blow to most of those opposed to land rezoning in Auckland, under the Unitary Plan, the city's development blueprint.

View from above of residential streets and houses   housing in Auckland.

Photo: 123RF

The Unitary Plan has been nearly five years in the making. It sets the template for an Auckland with much higher-density housing and urban growth, to allow for up to 420,000 additional homes in coming decades.

Six parties argued the Plan's Independent Hearings Panel went beyond its powers by rezoning land, mostly to allow increased housing density.

Heritage campaigner Charactor Coalition and the Auckland 2040 lobby group jointly lodged the biggest case, which Justice Whata rejected.

They argued the Independent Hearings Panel was wrong to increase housing densities in areas covering 29,000 properties, in suburbs including Ponsonby, Grey Lynn and Remuera.

"It will now be death by a thousand cuts as developers move in over time, and destroy the character of some of Auckland's most beautiful streets," coalition chairperson Sally Hughes said.

Ms Hughes said the group would not pursue further court action, but seek changes to the plan in future through reviews or the normal planning process.

In three cases before the court, the Independent Hearings Panel limited development.

Justice Whata found in two of those three cases there were grounds to appeal to the Environment Court.

Those cases were properties in Parnell, where height restrictions were imposed, and a piece of industrial land in Takanini, which was re-zoned residential.

Today's High Court decision was a guide to those who objected.

"It will be for them to decide whether, and to what extent, they wish to pursue their appeals," Justice Whata wrote in the decision.

With appeals still possible, the Auckland Council declined to comment.

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