The Labour Government has teamed up with the National Party to impose on all councils across the country the most appalling piece of top-down planning legislation we have ever seen. It will require all councils to change their planning schemes (Unitary/District Plans) to enable 3 buildings of up to 3 storeys on all residential sites. The proposals include the reduction of yard sizes and adjustments to reduce the size of outside living areas and changes to height-to-boundary rules to enable more buildings to be placed onto smaller sites with less distance in between them. All of this can happen as a permitted activity with no resource consents required. This will be the nail in the coffin for our urban forests.
You can make a difference by sending in a submission to the select committee and opposing this Bill. The deadline for submissions is Monday 16 November (next Monday) so time is short and we need you to act now.
You may like to include some of the following points:
Say that you support The Tree Council’s submission.
Blanket planning provisions are inappropriate, clumsy and will result in poor outcomes and poor quality living conditions for future generations.
The Intensification Streamlined Planning Process “ISSP” removes the right of appeal. This is contrary to the law of natural justice and is anti-democratic.
The assumption that councils have already investigated and identified S6 matters is incorrect.
The fact that S6 matters have not been identified by councils means that there is considerable risk that the proposed provisions could increase urban development in inappropriate locations or result in damage to features of significant natural, visual or heritage value.
The proposed medium density residential standards (MDRS) have the potential for significant impacts in terms of:
Loss of important tree canopy, wildlife corridors and biological linkages in urban areas;
Increased threats to sites of suspected heritage value;
Increased threats of damage to property and loss of life, as a result of additional development in areas of suspected high natural hazard risk.
The proposal will enable ad hoc intensification to occur across all cities in an unplanned manner, driven entirely by the market. This will place significant pressure onto existing infrastructure, which cannot be upgraded to accommodate the increased density in advance or even at the same time as the development occurs. This will lead to serious negative consequences such as increased flooding.
The proposal will result in inequitable outcomes and further entrench the divides between suburbs occupied by the rich and poor in our cities.
The Tree Council would like to see this Bill scrapped because of the serious, negative and irreversible outcomes for our cities that will result.If that is not done then the following actions would improve the outcomes:
The Bill should not come into effect until after the Strategic Plans required by the Strategic Planning Act (yet to be tabled) are completed by councils. The areas to which the MDRS apply should be informed by those Strategic Plans so that it is clear that the infrastructure will be adequate to support that level of intensification and the areas that need to be protected as S6 matters have been identified.
This Bill should direct (and the Government should resource) councils to undertake S6 matters investigations urgently and give them at least 12 months to do this work before the new provisions take effect. The plan changes required to implement the provisions could then also include the S6 items requiring protection.
This Bill should not come into effect until after the Natural and Built Environments Act is enacted and it is essential that this legislation contains provisions that will generally protect trees on private land so that their removal in order for the intensification to take place will require consent.
This Bill should be amended so that consents must be publicly notified. If it is important enough to require consent then the issue needs to be discussed and the public needs to have an input. It is not acceptable for all decisions about the future development of our cities to be made by a planner at their desk. We are particularly concerned about the serious threats to currently protected trees by the proposal to allow all consents to be processed non-notified.
The right of appeal should be returned to the Intensification Streamlined Planning Process “ISSP”. The speed with which these changes may be implemented will inevitably result in mistakes. It must be possible to challenge and rectify these via the courts.
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