Wellington.Scoop »Modification of plans, rules, heights and rights

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by Felicity Wong
Submissions on Wellington’s draft district plan closed yesterday. It consisted of 1,000 pages of draft rules, policies, guides and zoning. Everything was thrown out a month ago for Wellington residents to familiarize themselves with before Christmas and during blackout periods for town hall and neighborhood meetings.

During the same period, the government released a comprehensive central plan for all residential areas – the proposed new “Medium Density Residential Standards” (MDRS) which would impose a “one size fits all” for all residential sites in Wellington, Auckland. , Tauranga, Hamilton and Christchurch.

The select committee heard 1,000 submissions in a truncated three-week period and recommended Thursday last week that the proposed height of buildings on residential boundaries be reduced from 6 meters to 5 meters. New Deputy Opposition Leader Nicola Willis proposed 4 meters on Friday, and the government agreed.

The new MDRS rules will allow three such buildings on each residential site as long as they cover no more than 50% of the site.

No one seems to have thought about what our suburbs will look like when people put up 4 meter fences around their properties.

Only the ACT party opposed the bill and proposed instead to keep the existing residential rules allowing 2.5 meter walls as in Wellington’s existing (old) district plan.

The government’s move meant Wellington’s draft district plan was 70 percent over the day on the day it was released. Assuming the MDRS rules are legislated before Christmas, they will need a substantial rewrite. Even the design guides in the draft plan will not be legally enforceable once the MDRS removes the need for resource consents (the mechanism by which design guides are implemented).

Councilors Sean Rush and Rebecca Matthews were particularly supportive of the bill when they presented the WCC’s oral presentation at the select committee hearing on November 19. Cr Matthews called for the bill’s new fast-track process for finalizing the district plan’s intensification provisions to be applied to all parts of the Wellington District Plan.

This would mean that residents would have no right of appeal over the plan’s zoning, nor its other new provisions such as SCNs (backyard bush “significant natural areas”).

The bill removes the appeal rights of residents for “densification” zoning, for example the “6 storeys and more” zones of Ngaio and Khandallah. The rights to judicial review by the High Court would remain, but this concerns only the process, not the substance of the zoning or designations, and does not involve evidence of fact. It also costs a very large amount of money.

In contrast, citizens’ long-standing right to appeal zoning and planning provisions to the environmental court is less expensive (no “costs” are awarded against citizens who might lose and otherwise be convicted. to pay the Council’s legal bills), and ensures citizen participation and impartial legal testing of the regime’s provisions.

What we are getting, therefore, is undemocratic and centralized planning of our neighborhoods, with limited rights of appeal to the courts on this matter.

Until recently, the rationale for this was climate change and the need to reduce emissions by living more together. But the evidence is in fact that low density suburbs living in timber structures are more durable (if insulated) than lifetime concrete emissions from unsustainable tall new construction. (“Old or green – is the greenest building an old building?”)

The rationale for the enforced density was also that public transport costs need the benefits of large populations living near networks in order for the numbers to work for public transport investments. The policy of the central and local government is now to avoid the use of private cars in cities. In Wellington, we see LGWM’s Chicken and Egg: Rapid transport needs more density to pay for it, so density has to be established to pay for it.

During his recent webinar on housing densification (November 30), Urban Development Minister Twyford (architect NPSUD), however, pivoted towards a new logic: “equity issues”. Mr Twyford has repeatedly stated that the government wants housing intensification to be a “transfer of value from existing landowners to tenants and young people”.

Mr Twyford further explained that the government “will not elevate accreditation to the status of private property right and will not allow that right to deny others to build their homes.” He said the local government “could not resist” these owners and that is why the government had to act.

Mr Twyford said the government would establish “good design principles” which would include such things as access to playgrounds, clean air, shops and so on. But that the design guide would be limited to public access to public facilities, not private facilities. ”Interesting.

When Wairarapa MP Kerryn McNulty said he was a socialist (strong and proud in Parliament), Councilor Matthews tweeted that she was trying to maintain her own “deep cover”.

I don’t remember speaking in the last local or general election of “value shifting” from landowners (who love the sun, views, gardens and private vehicles) to other social groups (even deserving ones). Nor was there any discussion of legislating on citizens’ rights to appeal facts and evidence in court or otherwise participate in local government.

A year ago, I was puzzled when I overheard Neale Jones (local left-wing public relations guru) talking about a “class war” during his oral presentation on Wellington’s draft space plan. It’s not something that many of us would like to see in Wellington, but maybe it is being sued right under our noses (incumbent).

Although we have all been busy making submissions on Wellington’s draft district plan, it was not very comforting to hear the theory on intensification.

PWC Urban Economist Chris Crow (who conducted the Cost Benefit Analysis of the Enabling Housing (RMA) Bill) explained during Mr. Downtown’s webinar (where jobs and amenities are most students); and the density restrictions “limit the land’s earning potential and decrease its value while restricting the availability of floor space” and “this makes floor space scarcer throughout the city, which increases the demand for land. further into areas where floor area restrictions are not yet binding ”.

I expect the WCC to warn local “incumbent” authors that they are simply reducing the income potential of their neighborhood!

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