We’re not dormitory suburbs

Submissions from Waikato-Tainui, Hamilton City Council, Waipa and Waikato district councils left Parliament’s Environment committee with “a lot to think about.”

That was the summing up by committee chair Eugenie Sage after hearing presentations on the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Bill from those councils this week.

The Government announced last month it would introduce legislation to increase housing supply in New Zealand’s five largest urban areas: Auckland, greater Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch.

The requirements would enable landowners to build up to three houses of up to three storeys on most sites in those tier one cities without the need of a resource consent.

Jim Mylchreest

Waipā mayor Jim Mylchreest and Waikato deputy mayor Aksel Bech both submitted the bill captured towns in their districts as tier one cities which they believed the bill did not intend to do.

Those towns include Te Awamutu, Kihikihi, Cambridge, Ngaruawāhia, Taupiri and Tuakau.

“Towns are not little cities,” Mylchreest said.

“The bill should be clarified to refer specifically to the tier one urban environments of the five major cities of New Zealand: Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch and they should not apply to the tier three urban environments of surrounding towns.”

Aksel Bech

The Waipā towns were not dormitory suburbs of Hamilton and function as independent service towns for the surrounding dairy farming rural areas, he said.

“Waipā District Council has had an effective growth strategy which has been in place since 2009.

“It has been successful in identifying and enabling the staged release of growth cells for the future development of residential and business areas that will accommodate projected population growth beyond 2050.

“This strategic planning has enabled the council to coordinate the forward funding and installation of bulk infrastructure in tandem with development demand.”

Mylchreest said he and the council were concerned about the unintended negative consequences of “ad hoc intensification” on the amenity and character of the existing suburban living environments in Waipā towns.

“Without wanting to disclose confidential information, the council is liaising with Kāinga Ora and private developers to better deliver a mix of affordable housing in our towns,” said Mylchreest.

Pamela Storey

Later in the hearing, Waikato Regional Council’s Pamela Storey said Waikato appeared to be an “after thought”. The council’s submission aligned with other submissions made by the other Future Proof Waikato councils (Hamilton, Waipā and Waikato).

“Much of the focus of the bill appeared to be on Auckland and Wellington, and there seemed no clear understanding of Waikato’s unique environment, including the Waikato River,” she said.

Sage (Green Party) joined Anahila Kanongata’a (Labour), Tamati Coffey (Labour), Scott Simpson (National) and Simon Court (ACT) to hear from Mylchreest, Bech, Linda Te Aho (Tainui) and Ryan Hamilton (Hamilton),

The parliamentary Environment select committee conducted days of urgent hearings on the bill and finished on Monday. It will report back to Parliament on 2 December.

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