Chair of the Unitary Plan Committee, Councillor Alf Filipaina responds to this morning's NZ Herald article:
Auckland Council is strongly committed to protecting Auckland’s built heritage, although, after reading the NZ Herald this morning, you may not think that was the case.
The Herald reported that changes to the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan leave ‘entire suburbs open to demolition’. This is far-fetched to say the least.
Final decisions on heritage, and other planning rules, will not be made until mid-next year when Auckland Council’s governing body is due to publicly debate and make its final decision on the Unitary Plan. Until then, a process of hearings, mediation and decision-making will shape the recommendations that go to councillors in 2016.
The planning rules Auckland Council adopts next year will influence the future of our city for generations to come. If we want to be the world’s most liveable city, we need to get the balance right between accommodating Auckland’s rapid growth and protecting the aspects of the city we love.
People desperately need more affordable homes and better housing choices. They also want a city with a strong sense of where we’ve come from. That’s the balance we'll be looking to strike.
The government has appointed an independent hearings panel to oversee the process currently underway and, since last September, the council has played a key role during mediation and at the hearings. The council’s current position on the pre-1944 and historic character overlays will be made public in the coming weeks.
But let’s be clear – demolition of ‘entire suburbs’ is a slippery-slope argument that ignores the process underway and the commitment of our decision makers to protecting our heritage.
Next year, we will adopt a Unitary Plan for Auckland – one set of planning rules to shape our built environment. This will be the result of four years of public consultation and deliberation. Let’s not buy into the notion that these decisions are being made now behind closed doors or that the process is anywhere near complete. It’s simply not the case.