Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Building slums while banning growth

The same high-density planning imposition that Mother Hucker wants to impose in places like Glenn Innes and Panmure to make building slums compulsory are the same impositions planned for 51 'nodal developments' from Pukekohe to Warkworth that are zoned for minimum densities greater than Central London, and these impositions come from the same planning mindset that is already making it virtually impossible to build at all outside the Metropopitan Urban Limit (MUL). Don't believe me? Then listen up.

But listen first to the Eastlife Community newspaper, whose editor has had a good look at what's going on and says, "The planners have really gone to town on this one and if you're the type that gets bothered about social engineering then it might pay to pop a few heart pills before you start."

"So what's the 'Metropopitan Urban Limit'?" I hear you cry. Good question. ' Here's how the Auckland City Council planning department defines the 'MUL': "... a planning technique used to define urban limits and limit sprawl on rural areas. It is a line drawn on regional planning documents to define the allowed extent of urban zoning. Sometimes called Urban Limits or growth boundary." So there you have it. It's where the planning busybodies have waved their pen, making properties on side one more valuable (those 'within the growth boundary') than those on the other side.

What's new now is that the Auckland Regional Council's planners have upped the stakes. With the so-called Smart Growth of 'Plan Change 6' they've decided 'Countryside Living' -- that's the stuff you do outside the 'growth boundary' -- is “unsustainable” because, get this, it “undermines public transport.” They mean it. This 'plan change' is in essence a plan to end countryside living and to make rural New Zealand a National Park.

They do mean it. Manukau councillor and former Olympian Dick Quax has listed just a few of the projects outside the ARC's MUL already facing problems or predicated on this nonsense:

  • Beachlands and Maraetai are outside of the Metropolitan Urban Limits (MUL). Plan change 6 states that urban activity is prohibited outside the MUL. This means that, schools, kindergartens, churches will not be able to set up in Beachlands, Maraetai or Kawakawa.
  • The proposed Flat Bush development undertaken by the Manukau City Council is driven by the philosophy that says that Auckland must not grow outside the MUL. Quite clearly this has created an artificial scarcity of available land. This artificial scarcity has the effect of driving up the cost of land shattering the plans of the middle or low income people to owntheir own house.
  • The ARC has objected to an application to the Rodney District Council to develop a daycare centre in a rural zone on the grounds that it should be an urban activity.
  • The ARC is the sole objector to a proposal to redevelop the old Villa Maria winery in Mangere on the basis that this will allow urban activities in a rural area.
  • Small farms are the most rapidly expanding activity within the rural economy. From all accounts the ARC now requires that any new small farm must be developed within the MUL or within existing townships.
  • Even the countryside bed and breakfast establishments will be outlawed because they are not supported by public transport.
But there's just no rationale for any of this. As Quax points out, "The notion that Auckland is running out of land is simply not so. Urbanised land in New Zealand only occupies 0.8% of all land available. Even the most densely populated country in Europe, Netherlands which has a population density of 400 people per square kilometer (NZ has 15 per square kilometer) has only 7% of its total area urbanized. The remainder is forested or used for agriculture."

"It is a fact of life," says Quax, "that the vast majority of us are just too busy getting on with our lives to pay much attention to matters such as the Auckland Regional Growth Strategy, the Local Government (Auckland Amendment) Act or plan changes that will affect how we live, where we and most importantly our quality of life." Tough. Time to get involved and start fighting back if you want to protect your property rights.

Owen McShane says "the ARC's proposed Plan Change 6 represents the greatest intervention into our personal freedoms and property rights ever proposed under any land use legislation in New Zealand." That's even worse than Owen's beloved RMA!

Pressure on the ARC's politicians has already brought a result, reports the Herald this morning: "The chairman of the Auckland Regional Council, Mike Lee, is calling for an overhaul of the region's controversial growth strategy, including a freeze on intensification plans in suburbs like Glen Innes in the meantime. "

Don't believe a word. From the same article Mother Hucker says "
the growth strategy was basically sound and needed no overhaul," and Lee declares "Yes, it is sensible to intensify areas like the CBD and around rail corridors but I would like to look at a more necklace-like approach whereby we look at centres along the rail corridor such as Pukekohe, Te Kauwhata in the Waikato and north to Helensville and Kaukapakapa for a hamlet-type township approach." He's not backing off at all, is he? He advises that "a look at growth from a broader perspective [is] needed, to get a national policy statement on population and development."

What is needed is to give these busybody blowhards the bum's rush, and to get our property rights back. It is the Local Government Act and the Resource Management Act that have allowed this travesty to be contemplated. You can't say you weren't warned.

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