I think reasonable people could disagree about the Independent Hearings Panel’s recommendations on the Auckland Unitary Plan. In fact, a large number of generally reasonable people have spent a lot of the last two years disagreeing about the appropriate shape of the plan.

That’s all part of the democratic process. It doesn’t necessarily produce a perfect outcome on every issue, but on average it’s pretty reasonable. I expect that people will continue to critique, relitigate and change various pieces of the plan – that, too, is part of the process. We should welcome the ongoing debate.

What is not tenable at this point, however, is to criticise without being concrete, or to insist that we reject the entire plan and go back to – what? Those are not meaningful positions to espouse at the end of a multi-year planning and hearings process with many, many opportunities for community input. Nor do they offer anything positive for solving Auckland’s housing crisis, which is turning families out into the street for want of a home.

Brian Rudman’s column on the Unitary Plan recommendations in last week’s NZ Herald was, unfortunately, an example of a substance-free critique that doesn’t add much to the discussion. He writes:

There’s a cargo cult hysteria erupting over the magical cure-all abilities of Auckland Council’s proposed unitary plan, as revised by the Government-appointed hearings panel.

A broad church of true believers, including such odd bed-fellows as the Sallies and property developers, seems convinced the panel has discovered the holy grail which will conjure up affordable housing for all. They’re now ordering councillors to abdicate their responsibilities and tick the recommendations through unread.

Named the Coalition for More Homes, they’ve written to councillors thundering, “the time for deliberating is over, the process has been followed, it’s time to get on with it”.

At the risk of suffering elder abuse, dare I point out they are wrong. Like them, I’m shocked by the housing crisis. But I’ll be equally shocked if our elected representatives suddenly panic and get swept along with the mob’s obsession with housing at the expense of all the other ingredients that go into making a world-class city.

So what does Rudman want? It’s not at all clear. He certainly doesn’t think that councillors should adopt the Unitary Plan as is – hence his use of hyperbolic phrases like “cargo cult hysteria” and “the mob’s obsession with housing”. But what does he want them to do instead? Should they:

  • Vote to accept some of the IHP’s recommendations, and reject others? (If so, which ones?)
  • Vote to refuse all the recommendations, and default back to a completely different plan? (If so, which plan?)

In the absence of clear suggestions about what specific parts of the Unitary Plan he thinks are unacceptable, and how he thinks the city should proceed, Rudman’s column doesn’t add anything positive to the debate.

To be fair to Rudman, he does offer two or three specific examples of things he doesn’t like about the IHP’s recommendations. For instance, he really doesn’t like the approach they’ve taken to development on a volcanic cone in Papatoetoe:

Like despoilers from another age, the panel has also rezoned precious Crater Hill, on the edge of the Manukau Harbour at Papatoetoe, as suitable for up to 575 houses, either inside this privately owned volcano or on its outer slopes. This, at the request of the owners.

Geologist Bruce Hayward says Crater Hill is the second best preserved of the southern mountains after Mangere Mountain. It is ranked eighth most valued volcano in a report supporting Auckland’s attempt at World Heritage status for the volcanic field. Says Dr Hayward: “Welcome to the new world of more housing subdivisions, no matter what the cost.”

This is a perfectly reasonable view to hold. It’s fine to not want Auckland’s maunga to be built on. After all, they are an iconic part of the city’s landscape.

But piecemeal objections are not a good reason to call for rejecting the entire Unitary Plan. Binning the plan and starting again from scratch would be expensive and risky, due to:

  • The cost of throwing housing development into limbo while we restart a very long planning and hearing process – in the middle of a housing affordability crisis
  • The time and money that council and submitters will have to waste repeating the same exercise – probably with a similar result
  • The risk that Auckland Council will be sacked and replaced by commissioners – I can’t see how that would enhance local democracy.

If that’s not what Rudman wants – and I hope it’s not – then he needs to clearly explain what he does actually want to see from the Unitary Plan and from the council’s decisions about it. The same goes for all critics of the Unitary Plan: Rather than carping about the plan in general, they need to play a constructive role and articulate what specific things they’d like to be changed, and how they think we should go about changing them.

What do you think is good about the Unitary Plan? What do you think could be better?

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73 comments

  1. Can we expect balance and intelligence from a NZ print journalist???
    For me, I think the Plan is generally excellent. As per my article, I would strongly prefer that the Outlook Space rule didn’t exist, but I could handle a 4m rather than 6m rule.
    I think some locations could have gone a bit higher and denser.
    I would have liked to have seen housing affordability requirements in greenfield locations. The Panel’s concerns are well founded in urban infill situations, but in Australia I found it was easy to hit affordability requirements in greenfield locations. So that should have been a ‘Future Urban’ zone requirement.

    1. Matt – are you not aware what has happened in Auckland under joint land use proposals? You effectively have buildings 1.2m away from each other with a myriad of “internal infringements” written off by Council.

      Outlook rule is a god send!

      1. Just caught your comment realist.
        It’s not a bad point.
        But a 4m rule would address your concern but not place such an onerous restriction on development.
        There needs to be balance between development enablement and amenity protection and in this case, in my opinion, the panel have gone too far to address the latter at the expense of the former.

    1. 500 m² is a huge section in a city. So it will be expensive.

      What about a city where you’re actually allowed to build your house on a 200 m² section?

  2. Can you provide some evidence to support the suggestion that factors effecting the supply of housing won’t effect housing affordability?

  3. I lived in Papatoetoe for 22 years. I never knew Crater Hill existed until last week when the articles started breaking.

    Not saying my experience should guide policy. But if we should value locations like Crater Hill, surely we should do more to educate the public about natural locations around Auckland.

    1. Rudman’s concern about Crater Hill are the only part of that splenic article I agree with. I do think the crater itself is worth keeping as public open space and wildlife area. The obvious route towards this is for the Council to buy these parts. But then it makes no sense for that same body to rezone it to make the land more valuable first!

      1. The area seems like a good spot for apartments (maybe a retirement village). Low level housing is a wasted opportunity if you ask me. Either protect it, or utilise it, but we got a half-assed compromise.

    2. I know of Crater Hill because Auckland Orienteering have run events there for many years. As far as I’m aware, it has been a privately owned farm for a long time, so it’s understandable that most people have not heard of it or been there. You do see it easily from the South-Western motorway though.

      It’s mostly unspoilt, apart from the small amount of quarrying on one edge, and certainly has very picturesque views over the Manukau. But I’m not sure whether it stacks up as a worthwhile purchase for the council, where it could be a similar but less public-friendly version of Ambury Farm – it’s steeper, and much more uneven, and has loads of gorse! I think I’d rather the council made sure of retaining Ambury Farm through to the stonefields and Ihumatao as publicly accessible land. Perhaps even down to Puhinui Reserve, which is also a wonderful place to wander, though the airport and associated highways do get in the way of easy public access.

      Another thought is that with the airport and motorway and associated industries, there does have to be some development allowed through that corridor, and it seems unfair to arbitrarily restrict one private owner from something that all his neighbours have been allowed to do. From the plan, it looks as though the crater itself is retained, along with portions of the outside – perhaps if the quid pro quo for development was that some or all of the rest of that land was placed in public hands, that may be a win for everyone.

      Actually, I’m more surprised there’s not a push to develop the open ground just to the west of Crater Hill (off Pukaki Rd). IIRC it had been a racetrack many years ago, so is already markedly changed from its natural state.

      1. Typical – 8th most valuable volcano and we only worry about its protection at the last minute.

        Same approach is taken to heritage buildings.

        Council should get its priorities straight and buy these heritage assets BEFORE they come under threat.

  4. My instant reaction to his bleating about Crater HIll was that it’s odd that it’s so valuable and precious that we a) sold it to private interests b) to be quarried and c) I’ve never even heard of the place, and I consider myself fairly knowledgeable about Auckland geography.

  5. Another poor line of criticism run against the unitary plan is that it is bad because it doesn’t solve all problems instantly. What this criticism misses is that the unitary plan is a necessary but not sufficient condition for improving housing affordability.

    Yes there needs to be improvements to the efficiency and capacity of the construction sector. But without a plan that enables a lot of capacity there will be no incentive for the construction sector to scale up, and there will continue to be a greater incentive to sit on land than develop it.

    The same goes for the need for state housing. Even if there was to be a significant government building program, they would still need a sufficiently permissive plan to allow those houses to be built somewhere.

    Planning restrictions aren’t the only cause of unaffordable housing but they are the most significant one, and these restrictions need to be dealt with before any other reform can take place.

      1. Well we will be able to put that to the test now. If Unitary Plan is passed providing excess capacity, and still nothing happens, then we can start pointing fingers at the real culprits:

        – land speculation
        – Uncontrolled immigration numbers
        – A government with no plan (least a transport plan) for Auckland
        – Linked to above, lack of government funding of required infrastructure

  6. I agree with him on the acoustic panelling, too. Living near to a busy road or rail drives you nuts but it’s difficult to see developers building budget accommodation putting them in.

    Also nervous about all that Mixed Housing Urban zoning on the plan that’s more than 10 minutes walk from a rail station or frequent bus route stop. There’s a lot, and it’ll invite more auto-centered development driving the same congestion that slows down the roads for everyone else! IIRC the Recommended Plan added about 30,000 new feasible THAB capacity but 50,000-60,000 MHU and MHS. I’d rather those numbers were the other way around.

    Still, we have a plan; I think its time to pass it now! Hopefully AT will have the resources to adjust their network over time to cope.

  7. “Crater Hill is the second best preserved of the southern mountains after Mangere Mountain” I can assure everyone that even if Crater Hill is totally destroyed there will be another second best preserved of the southern mountains!

  8. I think it is hard to refute the accusations that for all the veneer of democracy the IHP was largely an exercise in the middle class talking to itsef. White hipsters presented to white boomers whist white pensioners got upset in an argument that was largely about what white middle class people think makes a nice airspace city to live in. Perhaps the best example of this middle class bias is the utter indifference on this site to the failure of the plan to provide for affordable housing for lower class workers and the unemployed.

    1. You seem to have plenty of time to post tedious ideological diatribes on the internet. Did you consider gracing the hearings with your presence to ensure that the voice of the proletariat was heard?

      Also, the plan does contain a mechanism to improve housing affordability: it’s called “allowing more homes to be built”. Difficult to see things getting better without doing that.

    2. Sanctuary how would you suggest planning rules might address your affordability concern?
      For me it is not so much a planning matter as a matter for govt to build a lot more social housing

    3. Actually it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to put your ideas in front of a truly impartial body. You didn’t need expensive lawyers or planners, just a good idea with some reasons. All that mattered was that the ideas were good.

  9. Councillors will probably vote to accept the IHP recommendations but with some carefully chosen exceptions. Some examples: expect a debate on returning the RUB to the Regional rules where it belongs (otherwise we will have an endless stream of Private Plan Changes applications from developers wanting to sprawl even further) + rolling back the change that allows up to 4 dwellings in all residential zones without resource consent (how else to ensure at least a modicum of quality control) + revisiting things like minimum dwelling size (I would argue for an applicant being able to go below the minimum ONLY where they had produced a design that showed how they could make it work without sacrificing quality – in other words fully compliant applications get the tick but those who want to work outside the standard can still do so but only where they can demonstrate that their proposed outcome will actually be liveable). Not enough space to list others, but Council will probably not raise too many issues because anything they refer to the Environment Court then becomes subject to potential appeals from any party who submitted on that particular issue.

  10. You are not giving Rudman a fair go. Given the entirely dysfunctional current status of Auckland Council, it is probably too much to expect that our current politicians will do the sensible thing and adopt most of the recommendations and reject a few. Nevertheless there is a strong case for some “out of scope” changes to be rejected and also for rejecting the watering down of volcanic heritage changes proposed for the current RPS provisions. That was the general drift of the Rudman article. Surely considerations of natural justice should still carry weight in our judicial system? Having some matters identified and excluded (and made the subject of subsequent plan changes) would provide the opportunity for appropriate notification and submissions. That is is the most sensible way forward and given the unreasonable time frame imposed by Government, the IHP simply did not have time for detailed consideration of site-specific issues.

      1. “…Natural justice, like anyone being able to submit in support or opposition to the plan – oh wait that happened…”

        No complaining from you when the Vogons arrive, then.

        1. That’s the beauty of it. No bulldozers will turn up on your doorstep unless you actually want to redevelop your land!

          1. Bulldozers can’t show up on your doorstep unless you want to develop? Having your neighbour decide to develop can mean a series of bulldozers, trucks, etc. shaking your house and breaking up your local road and footpaths (and often straying onto your driveway and yes, doorstep: vehicles and tradies and cigarette butts and loud music) for months or even years, as we’ve had. So please stop using this argument – it doesn’t mean what you think it means.

  11. All the people supporting the IHP’s version of the PAUP seem to be raving about the upzoning, and I agree with that, but I dont think they are fully aware of the new rules that will allow poor quality development.

    Auckland had a very dark period in the early 1980s when it was “build at any cost.” Then again in the late 1990s when dozens of cheap, nasty apartment blocks went up. We mourned the loss of so many opportunities for good walkable “urban villages” and we all spoke about ‘transit oriented developments’ and good urban design.

    The Unitary Plan was supposed to be a bit more “design led” – meaning good solutions to compact living are supported. This is what the Council put forward, and what developers generally agreed to. Surprisingly, however, the IHP struck out a lot of the ‘design based’ elements. This includes rules preventing car parking buildings at street level, windowless facades, garage doors and high fences lining streets. Why have these rules been removed? They certainly didn’t add signficant cost to development. The PAUP did have simple minimum standards for things like fencing, whereas now it will be lot more open to interpretation, leading to increased uncertainty/risk and compliance costs.

    If you have Compact, you must have Quality, otherwise you get Crap.

    1. Yes agree. Developers seemed to have far too much influence in the IHP stage.

      There are so many crap parts of Auckland that were built in the past during an affordable housing campaign that are still crap today.

      1. Yes, just like Ponsonby and Grey Lynn – cheap housing thrown up quickly on small lots with bad drainage to meet the short-term housing needs of low-income immigrants. Shouldn’t have been allowed!

        1. I knew that would be the first counter point thrown up. That took a century to turn around and always had the proximity to the centre city. Why create an unnecessary century of grief when good design could help mitigate that.

        2. Those neighbourhoods have many elements that Urban Design rules sought to replicate; small plots, but not allowing streets to be dominated by high fencing and garages.

          This Blog often highlights the problems of a car-dominated environment (Botany/Te Iririangi Dr a common exemplar). The IHP have now legislated that walkable, attractive streets are unnecessary in Auckland, despite the wide economic and social benefits that they provide (and the huge costs burden of a poorly-functioning neighbourhood).

          Developers (those who care only about profit) are the winners in this, but the City will be left with built legacies demonstrating a lack urban planning; the kind of developments that make all people (nimbys and gen zero alike) generally quite angry. The mandate now is all about affordable housing and cost savings and basically little else.

        3. Exactly. I predict those electric bungalows will only last 20 years. And who would want that dangerous 240V alternating current in their home?

    2. From a planners perspective, I believe they took them out of the Unitary Plan because they felt those design controls could be better addressed before the applications are lodged – and that having those rules as a statutory requirement added costs because there was more to assess. However I am still unsure how true this is in principle. It is very much a wait and see I think

    3. Thanks Ak-Sam – this is a good example of a critique of the IHP’s recommendations with specific recommendations of what could be done differently! Good place to start a debate.

      1. That is a concern I have. Because government has dropped the ball on housing, affordable housing now becomes the catch cry to get everything approved – no matter how crap!

    4. “Then again in the late 1990s when dozens of cheap, nasty apartment blocks went up.”

      So cheap and nasty that they are hugely popular and continue to have near 100% occupancy? Some leaked, that cannot be addressed in the UP by law, it is a building act matter. But let’s not suggest that because some mostly rich, mostly white, mostly suburban, mostly boomer types wouldn’t live there that hey aren’t an entirely appropriate part of the housing mix.

    5. I agree with your concerns. I attended a seminar run by Kirkpatrick, who spoke at lenght about the degree to which the notified PAUP attempted to regulate activities that didnt fall under the jurisdiction of the RMA. Their thinking is that some of these rules are more appropriately enforced as part of the Building Act. There are already regulations for natural light, ventilation, access, waterproofing etc which can be complied with as either an acceptable (pre-specificed) or alternative (bespoke) solution. Basically, you can do something outside the square, as long as you can prove that it meets the minimum quality standards in the NZBC. No law degree here, but I work within the rules of the building act on a daily basis and don’t see why some of these rules couldnt be incorporated.

      Whatever your interpretation of whether minimum density should be controlled regionally or nationally, I think this also raises an important point. The conversation is all about growth for Auckland. What about Hamilton? Tauranga? Some of these principles are pretty universal. Would they benefit from the same push for density that we are proposing for Auckland right now? If so, then maybe the government should create national standards that ensure a good level of quality is maintained in developments regardless of which city they are in.

      But that’s a whole other story isn’t it…

  12. If you push me for an opinion, then no I don’t think they should build on a site like Crater Hill.

    However, as it stands, as someone who fears being locked out of Auckland for the rest of my life. I find it hard to give much priority to saving it.

    If the likes of Rudman want to protect places like this – they need to make sure people like me and my generation can access Auckland.

    It seems that you really have to be in a position of privilege to be that concerned about heritage etc.

  13. My one real concern about the plan is that it is still very restrictive. I fully agree with the commentators who highlight the really disappointing lack of THAB. It looks like the IHC hasn’t followed their own guidelines in laying down THAB around the train stations. Kingsland is the most obvious to me cause of proximity, but it is true for many stations.

    Is there anything we can do at this late stage to stimulate more thought?

    1. Coming from Europe I’m used to see mostly terraced houses, low-rise and medium-rise apartments within a few kilometres of the city centre. You rarely see anything else, and almost all buildings are at least 3 storeys high. Anything less is just a waste of expensive land.

      Meanwhile we will have our single house zone in Kingsland, 3 km from the city centre, right next to a station.

      To me the plan is just absurdly, surrealistically restrictive, and perhaps the IHP is proposing to make it a little less surreal. How can any remotely sane process possibly come up with these large swathes of single housing zone in the middle of the city? With a 600 m² minimum lot size nonetheless. At least they’re being cut down a bit (hopefully), but how did we end up with that in the first place?

      Cynical note #1: My impression is that this is not so much about making housing more affordable, but more a compromise between allowing non-zero growth, and making sure the zoning is still restrictive enough to allow investors to keep cornering the market.

      Cynical note #2: There is one type of high-density development popping up in a lot of places: retirement villages. One of them at Smales farm, in an area otherwise zoned MHS. I try not to think too ill off baby-boomers but this is getting ridiculous.

      Note to the bloggers: I really appreciate your coverage of this subject, and bringing some sanity in this process. And how you keep taking this discussion seriously—I tried that but I really couldn’t do it.

      1. Yes. The issue is one of managing change, it seems the UP in all its versions are too rooted in current land-use rather than reflecting possibility. The Kingsland zoning simply reflects what there currently is rather than what there could be. Or should be? This seems to me the clear failure of the process. Possible affordable dwelling supply is almost entirely focussed on mixed use and Metro centre zones that simply reflect the small areas that managed to grow beyond single house use in the years before zoning was clamped down last century. This is too small and too random to be really effective.

  14. “…You seem to have plenty of time to post tedious ideological diatribes on the internet…”

    And you have all the class consciousness of a Chilean army officer. What do you think the Unitary plan actually is? It is above all a political document. As a political document, it has an ideological position. Don’t fool yourself the IHP didn’t have an ideological lens. It might be more ambient that a Soviet housing commisar, but they were all middle class technocrats, ten were whites, nine were men, all were middle aged or older. Not much diversity there, then. The council is an ideological, political organisation. Just because the IHP happens to be like you don’t assume it’s vision is not ideological. Criticising it’s ideological approach is entirely legitimate. Like all ideological documents, it is as telling in what it doesn’t adddress as what it does. The sidelining of affordable housng reflects tthe values and priorities of a white middle class talking to each other. To me, affordable housing isn’t a nice to have component of the document. It is the launching point of the entire approach to our livable city. How much use will be a connected cycleway if no one will use for fear of being held up by a homeless desperado? How much support will the trains have after the third murder leads to white flight and a bunch of rightwingers telling everyone all they are good for is to provide a corridor for criminals to where they live? And don’t say it won’t happen, Melissa Lee already tried it on in the Mt Alert bye election. So yeah, ideology is central to politics, and politics is what this is all about. So stop whinging about people not seeing the common sense of your privileged position, dude.

    “…Sanctuary how would you suggest planning rules might address your affordability concern?…”

    Thespinoff has a section devoted to the Unitary Plan called the “The War for Auckland” and since they’ve used a militarry analogy, so will I. Read any history of WWII and the performance of the German army is lauded, in fact it seems to be getting better with time. But they still lost the war, and the general agereement is it was lost in the USSR. Now, a brisk industry exists to gainfully employ authors and publishers arguing why Operation Barbarossa failed. Should Guderian have turned south in September 1941? Should the Germans have shut down their operations in October? But arguing about the precise combat power of Kleist’s panzer group doesn’t obscure the fact that Barbarossa was an excellent plan that failed because it reflected the assumptions of the Nazi party. Any component of the Unitary plan could make sense when viewed within it’s internal ideological context. Just as it is ultimately pointless trying to make Barbarossa work when you should never have invaded Russia in the first place so it is pointless trying to make the Unitary plan work for affordable housing.

    Why do we all support PT and cycling? Speaking for myself, it is because it better for the planet, it is better for my health and because by taking people out of their sealed cylinders on the motorway and putting them in shared spaces a better community can be built. So it is about building a better, healthier place for us all to share. Central to that is decent housing, something that is after all a basic human right.

    I guess all I am saying is what I specifically want is to acknowledge that the Unitary plan is an intensely ideological and intensely political document, and accept that it contains all the flaws of the political society that created it. And that one of those flaws is a class blindness to the centrality of the provision of decent affordable housing, a flaw that to my mind is so central that it if not addressed it will ultimately make the whole plan a waste of time.

    1. Am I the only one who his completely bored with the absurd military obsessions of some commentators here recently?

      Military campaigns of the second world war have absolutely no relevance to Auckland’s current transport situation no matter how obsessed individual commentators may be with those events.

      Am now hovering over delete button, and will exercise same in the future for irrelevance….

      1. First of all, I am not using a military analogy really, just a planning one. I guess you’ll delete thespinoff.co.nz from your bookmarks as well, what with their war analogy and all.

        Thirdly, to Mr. Nick, I think you missed the point of it entirely. Read it again and I think you’ll find that your post is exactly the point I am making.

      2. You could say fairly masturbatory on an intellectual level, but i enjoyed it. His points are sound, though i don’t agree with them.

        My rationale is that supply will organically take care of the affordability problem.

      3. It’s a perfect example of Godwin’s law which says” as an online discussion grows longer the probability of a comparison with Nazism or hitler approaches 1″.

    2. “I guess all I am saying is what I specifically want is to acknowledge that the Unitary plan is an intensely ideological and intensely political document, and accept that it contains all the flaws of the political society that created it.”

      But what does this mean for policy? Spare me the vague waffle about ideology and politics, and tell me what exactly you think should be *different* about the Unitary Plan.

      Should residential or business zoning be applied in different locations? Should the zoning rules be changed to be more restrictive? Less restrictive? Should requirements that a share of dwellings in large developments be sold below a certain price? If so, what share, how large are the developments that should be affected, and what price should be used as a threshold?

      Without being concrete about the actual policy issues at hand, you’re just engaging in useless intellectual masturbation.

      1. My, nothing so hostile as ruffled middle class feathers… Just remember, those decorative lamp posts can hang many things, comrade! I suspect the whole plan will prove completely unworkable due -and here is a nice Marxist turn of phrase – to the inherent contradictions in the plan, chief of which is the failure to specifically address the need for action on affordable housing.

        1. What, specifically, does “action on affordable housing” mean in the context of the Unitary Plan?

          Also, you talk pretty tough on the internet for someone hiding behind a pseudonym.

          1. I’m disappointed about a lot of things tbh.

            A lot of rtn stations should have higher height limits (minimum of six storeys within 200m of a station, minimum of 4 within 400m and minimum of MHU within 800m) and more mixed use zonings.
            Nowhere on the isthmus should be less intensely zoned than MHU.
            Metropolitan Centres should have no height limits.
            Smales farm should also by a Metropolitian centre.
            Any viewshaft from a motorway should be deleted.
            Affordability requirement (10% of all residential sales by value beneath 2/3 of median sale price) in all FUZ land.
            No Minimum Parking requirements anywhere.
            THAB or mixed use of at least 6 storeys lining GNR, GSR, NNR, Sandringham Road, Dominion Road, Mt Eden Road, Manukau Road, Remuera Road and Tamaki Drive.

            However I doubt that is, specifically, what many commentators offering nothing want.

          2. Sailor Boy makes some good suggestions above.

            ‘Affordability requirement (10% of all residential sales by value beneath 2/3 of median sale price) in all FUZ land.’

            Yes!
            As I have said elsewhere, affordability requirements work well in greenfield settings but not brownfield. As I wasn’t involved at all in the Unitary Plan process, I’m not sure whether such nuanced debates occurred, or whether it was a black and white ‘affordability or no affordability requirement’ debate….I suspect it may be the latter, because unfortunately, after working for a few years in Australia, I came to realise that the level and quality of planning debate and practice in NZ is a LONG way behind Australia (at least 10 years in my view).
            So many things in the Unitary Plan would have benefited from a few glances across the Tasman. A very good example being development capacity modelling which the Aussies have been doing well in a few places for quite a while

      2. What about retention of the affordability requirement clause that the IHP recommended be deleted? I agree with the panel it might yield a slightly lower quantity of housing on the margin, but it could yield more, in absolute numbers, of the very most affordable housing. It also would yield affordable housing distributed throughout the city to avoid class segregation.

        I think I would definitely agree that the IHP recommending elimination of this clause seems to reflect middle class priorities, i.e., giving us the most housing possible, rather than sacrificing quantity to provide more affordable housing at the bottom end of the range, which seems to be a more consistently left-wing approach. There’s a good argument that would be better for people who need housing most of all. Thus – whether you agree with it or not – there are ideological choices here that yield better results for certain people and worse results for others.

  15. There’s always a place for criticism that isn’t offering an alternative. It’s enough to highlight flaws, even if you don’t have the solution immediately, identifying the problem first is a good step toward solving it. Even if you never solve it you’re still more mindful of the issues you’re facing.

    My problem with Rudman’s article isn’t that he doesn’t ask for anything concrete. He does, explicitly. This article mentions Crater Hill, but he also calls for retaining all the volcanic viewshafts and having a minimum size for apartments.

    My problems are two – first, that he misrepresents his opponents’ position (that is, the Coalition). The Coalition didn’t see the IHP as “infallible”, and didn’t ask councillors to accept the IHP’s recommendations unread – they asked councillors to read them, as the Coalition has, and then accept them instead of doing anything that would draw this process out any longer than it’s already gone. The Coalition doesn’t think the Unitary Plan is a “cure-all”, but simply as an immediately necessary step.

    The second problem is just that his arguments are terrible and largely unrelated to the merits of the course of action he’s calling for. No-one has ever suggested that leaky buildings are caused by RMA plans or the lack thereof, for example, and yet that is somehow a reason for the council to adopt some completely unrelated building controls.

    I was also going to say that the level of abuse he chucks around is also a bit unnecessary. Though I guess it is entertaining and traditional in New Zealand politics, and I’m certainly guilty of that myself when it comes to criticising, say, Bernard Orsman. So I take it back. Abuse away, Brian – you dickhead.

    1. I think specificity is an important part of constructive critique, but yes, you’re dead right that there are other problems with Rudman’s analysis. His put-downs of the Coalition as a “cargo cult” and a “mob” reek of elitist condescension – which is a funny place for an old lefty like Rudman to be going.

      1. I don’t read Rudman or the Herald much (cos I basically think it’s garbage) – have Rudman or Orsman ever offered a constructive suggestion as to how the housing crisis might be addressed, if they don’t generally like density?

    2. Nice link there 🙂

      This is a fight between those who are in the property game and those who are not.

      There is an age/wealth demographic, but not always….in cafes it is fun to be a fly on the wall, in this instance in a Te Atatu cafe where there were two sets of thirty something couples chatting over breakfast….
      “Well – they – should have seen it coming, the property market is open to anyone who wants to put the hard yards in”. Then they talked about friends, again two couples, who had recently purchased a property together to get “into the game”.

      And that is the thing, many people in the property game have never felt so wealthy, they are widespread and they are of diverse demographics.

  16. I read the same Rudman column today (Herald floats around in our tea room) and was really disappointed by the lack of anything substantial and the use of scare words.

  17. My assumptions is:

    1. He enjoys quiet life style with large backyard and a view to the mountains
    2. He has no kids that are slugging to buy a house
    3. He is going to retire soon, so he will try to keep his house capital value for retirement

    In his own self-interest, it is best not to have any intensification.

    However using his exclusive access to media to provoke emotion and hated in order to achieve his own personal self-interest, is simply selfish and evil.

  18. I’ve just been looking at officer’s recommendations on the IHP’s recommendations. A fairly significant number of recommended changes!
    I’m mainly interested in the residential provisions, officer’s recommended changes include:

    – bringing back minimum floor areas
    – bringing back in resource consent requirement for 3 or more dwellings (compared to Panel’s lifting to 5 or more dwellings)

    mmmm, it’s all go!

  19. My problem with all this is the likelihood of the Government appointing commissioners if the Councillors don’t approve the plan, no matter what the flaws.

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