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Auckland Unitary Plan notification welcomed

Auckland Council’s notification today of its new Unitary Plan is an historic step in enabling New Zealand’s largest city to better grow and prosper, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“This new plan is vital to the future of Auckland and New Zealand. The confused muddle of outdated plans from the city’s eight former councils has held back housing, business and infrastructure development. Auckland now has, for the first time, one set of development rules covering land, water, air and the marine environment. It is a crucial step in the Government’s plan for a single, unified council for Auckland.

“It is a huge feat to have completed this plan, the largest ever in New Zealand, in record time. Mayor Len Brown, councillors, the Independent Hearings Panel and the staff that have supported the council and Government all deserve credit.

“The Government has walked a delicate balance in designing the special legislation for the Unitary Plan so as to give people a fair say and respect local democracy while also getting to a conclusion in a reasonable time frame.

“This plan is the most important component in increasing Auckland’s housing supply. The old planning rules outside of Special Housing Areas (SHAs) provide for only 7000 new homes, reflecting the dysfunction of Auckland’s previous councils in not being able to resolve whether the city grew up or out. The draft plan provided for 230,000 additional homes. This new, final plan enables Auckland to grow both up and out and will accommodate the extra 400,000 homes Auckland needs for the future.

“There are important lessons from the special planning process used to complete this Unitary Plan. It shows the strength of using independent hearings panels. The process highlighted the importance of economic assessments in determining the development potential of plans, and strengthens the Government’s case for standardised resource management framing tools. These will be incorporated into the Government’s ongoing reform of the Resource Management Act and use of its national policy tools.

“The plan will still require some tweaking and amendment as it is applied across Auckland. We also need to ensure a smooth transition from the SHAs to the new Unitary Plan. The Government will be working with the council on the implementation of the plan to ensure it works for Auckland, particularly in key areas such as housing and infrastructure.”

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