Auckland Council: housing bill an affront to ‘local democracy’

It also lacks adequate appeal provisions and is silent on the housing accord agreed between the city and the Beehive, submission says.

 The government's proposed legislation to fast-track housing development in Auckland undermines local democracy, lacks adequate appeal provisions and is silent on the housing accord agreed between the city and the Beehive, Auckland Council says.

The council's concerns about the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Bill are set out in a submission to the social services select committee, which is assessing the proposed new law.

Clauses of the bill allow the government to override local government planning and consenting functions and empower the head of the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment to authorise developments in certain circumstances, according to the submission.

The bill also allows the Minister of Housing to establish special housing areas (SHAs) if they have not been able to negotiate one in good faith.

"These clauses do not respect the principles of local democracy or those that underlie the establishment of accord agreements," the council says. "Auckland Council therefore rejects these clauses outright and requires that they be deleted."

Last month the council and the government agreed terms of the Auckland Housing Accord, with a target of 39,000 new homes by 2016, to alleviate a housing shortage that has driven up property prices to the point they are "severely unaffordable".

Among its aims is the establishment of SHAs on greenfield and brownfield sites.

"Accords are based on mutual trust and partnership between the parties involved," the council says in its submission. "The override provisions undermine this principle by making it impossible for councils to negotiate the terms of an accord on an equal footing with the government."

The council wants clauses inserted in the bill requiring all decisions that would be made under the new law to also give effect to the accord and be in accordance with the city's unitary plan.

It also wants increased rights of appeal and the establishment of a board of review.

(BusinessDesk)

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