Thursday, June 20, 2024

Waikato council ‘held to ransom’ over new housing rules

Waikato District Council has “reluctantly” notified ratepayers of a district plan variation aimed at increasing housing density, with Mayor Allan Sanson claiming the Government is “holding councils to ransom” over the new legislation.

“The whole approach is too cookie cutter and there is no ability to tailor this for our communities to ensure that they are being considered on their own merits,” the Mayor said.

“To apply the same rules to the likes of Auckland and Hamilton and then use that same broad brush to consider the towns across our district is simply ridiculous and in so many other contexts just wouldn’t happen. It is a nonsense.”

The outgoing Mayor says it is the worst planning direction and outcome that he has seen in his 21 years of local politics and is disappointed that his councillors have had no choice but to sit by and begrudgingly let it happen.

Waikato District Mayor, Allan Sanson.

“Our Council echoes the views of some others and believes that the Government would achieve a better result by collaborating with councils like ours, not forcing our hand and leaving our residents with little ability to influence what happens in their own community,” he said.

“What we can say, is that the changes proposed in the variation focus the increased density around the town centres that are primarily within the areas already zoned as Medium Density in our Proposed District Plan. That is at least something that should provide a level of reassurance for our communities.”

The planned change to the Proposed Waikato District Plan, which will see more houses built faster in high-growth areas, is now open for public submissions.

The changes will allow for development of up to three homes, and up to 11 metres high in some residential areas, under new Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS), without needing a resource consent or permission from neighbours.

There are four towns within the Waikato district which meet the legislative criteria for the application of the MDRS – Ngaaruawaahia, Huntly, Tuakau and Pookeno.

The Government has funded an independent service to help those who want to make formal submissions and Mayor Sanson said he hopes that people will take advantage of this.

“It’s critical that our communities take the opportunity to have their say on these proposed changes – whether they support them or not.”

“We want people to understand the extent of this legislation and how this could make their neighbourhood look vastly different to how it does today. We want the Government to hear loud and clear from Waikato District Council residents what they think and feel about that.”

Submissions are open until Friday 28 October.

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