Heated Unitary Plan debate shows strength of feeling

Press Release – Auckland Council

Vigorous debate on the draft Auckland Unitary Plans proposals for shaping the way Auckland grows shows the value of the councils early and extensive engagement programme, says Devonport-Takapuna Local Board Chair Chris Darby.8 April 2013

Heated Unitary Plan debate shows strength of feeling: Chris Darby

Vigorous debate on the draft Auckland Unitary Plan’s proposals for shaping the way Auckland grows shows the value of the council’s early and extensive engagement programme, says Devonport-Takapuna Local Board Chair Chris Darby.

Tens of thousands of people have been going online to find out more about the draft plan, and thousands have attended the engagement events across Auckland.

“The planning rule book for our changing future contains many contentious issues that people feel strongly about,” Mr Darby says. “Robust debate is essential. We need to get these issues out on the table and make sure everyone has a chance to be heard, so that the finalised plan is shaped by Aucklanders one and all.”

Mr Darby’s comments follow recent meetings in Milford, where many residents have voiced concerns that the maximum heights proposed for the town centre are too high. Mr Darby says that Milford residents have been put through the wringer in recent years by having to deal with a developer’s proposal of buildings twice the height suggested in the Unitary Plan.

“It’s understandable people are wary after four years of fighting off high-rise. I came to the meeting to listen to a concerned community. The Devonport-Takapuna Local Board has stood by Milford’s residents during a difficult private plan change process and we will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder,” he says.

“Although the proposals in the draft unitary plan suggest lower heights, residents are understandably wary. The majority at the meeting were against eight storeys in the town centre. However, they understand the need for appropriate additional height, and many of those present – particularly the younger people – are positive about the benefits that greater housing choice offers. . We got a clear message that strict design controls to ensure good quality development were a must as was the need to build on Milford’s village character.

“It’s valuable feedback for Auckland Council and justifies the commitment to an extended 11-week engagement programme.”

Mr Darby says it’s important that people take the time to understand what’s being proposed, see that this is about growth over 30 years not what will happen tomorrow, and know that their opinions will be listened to. “In the past, district plans have only been notified when almost done and dusted, but Council is committed to getting as much feedback as we can before we reach that stage in September. This is a very different approach and I’m confident significant change will occur as a result.”

Mr Darby says Milford has strong community leadership in the Milford Residents Association, the Milford Business Association and the Milford Village Forum, which will help to reflect community and shape the Shore for the better in the coming decades.

“We recently granted the Milford Village Forum $3000 to organise community visioning workshops to build a local response to the draft plan. The board is dedicated to finding the right balance for Milford as Auckland searches for ways to accommodate an additional 1 million people over the next 30 years.”

“This is no easy task but we have little choice but to take on the challenge to foresee the needs of future generations a lot better than we have in the past.”

To find out more about the draft unitary plan, to access the plan online and for further information on engagement events, roadshows and walkabouts, go to www.shapeauckland.co.nz. Further background material is also available in libraries.

ENDS

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