“Without any announcement on the Beehive website, Ministers Robertson and Wood have written to Kainga Ora and asked them to commence a Specified Development Project to rezone an enormous area of the Auckland isthmus between Mt Eden Rd and Sandringham Rd as part of a so-called ‘Auckland Light Rail urban development project,’ under the Urban Development Act,” says MP for Epsom David Seymour.

The letter states that Kainga Ora must, under s29(b) of the Urban Development Act, consider a Specified Development Project in the area where the Auckland Light Rail project might be built, and report back by next July. The area in question is loosely defined by a low resolution map that appears to include the area between Mt Eden Rd and Sandringham Rd. The map can be found here.

“If the project were to proceed, Kainga Ora would effectively be able to take over planning and development for whole suburbs, with the ability to change zoning, commission and develop infrastructure, and put in place targeted rates to pay for these developments. All of this would override the Auckland Unitary Plan and infrastructure plans already in place by Auckland Council.

“This move is classic Labour, based on the false belief that centralizing power will lead to greater efficiency. We have seen this approach fail with everything from polytechs to healthcare, and now they are imposing it on housing. The same party that gave us Kiwibuild is trying to impose their housing project on swathes of suburban Auckland but they are not solving the right problem.

“The Auckland Unitary Plan allows for up to 900,000 more homes to be built. The difficulties are with the funding of infrastructure and the planning of building. ACT’s policies of GST sharing for council infrastructure, and private insurance for new builds as an opt out from council insurance would solve these problems. As we say with the Labour/National deal to build three-three-storey homes on every section, central government taking over planning is not a popular or effective way of getting homes built for the next generation.

“This latest development is a solution looking for a problem. It is the last station on Labour’s light rail fantasy that should have ended with Michael Wood, having earlier survived the end of Phil Twyford’s ministerial career. The light rail doesn’t stack up, and it certainly doesn’t justify a department as dysfunctional as Kainga Ora taking over planning half of Mt Eden. The next Government must stop this Specified Development Project dead.”

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