Government to strip Auckland Council of powers over major housing developments

Faced with a major housing shortfall, the Government is on a collision course with Auckland Council with a proposal to strip it of planning and consent powers for some major projects.

Up to 15,000 new homes are needed in Auckland each year to meet demand - but in the last year to July the Council only consented 12,800.

Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford is taking a plan to Cabinet which would set up a new Ministry of Housing and Urban Development. In Auckland he would establish an Urban Development Authority (UDA).

The UDA would be in charge of 12 to 15 major housing developments - including the Unitec/Wairaka site, where 3000-4000 homes will be built. Others would include the development on Dominion Road and the Tamaki regeneration scheme.

Mr Twyford told NZME the UDA will act as the "the planning and consenting authority" for these areas, with the ability to "override the Unitary Plan". He says the Council has failed to show it can deliver enough houses.

"It's too close to the vested interests, like Nimbys," he told NZME.

"When it came time for tough and necessary decisions to create the Unitary Plan, too many councillors headed for the hills."

However Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has defended the Council's progress, arguing "things are moving in the right direction". He said those who opposed developments aren't necessarily bad people.

"Nimbys can be negative or good," he said. "They can be the people who stand up for heritage, lifestyle, greenness, things like that. I think we should be careful not to generalise."

The Council would debate the details of Mr Twyford's proposal and Mr Goff expected it to make a submission to the select committee to "protect the right of citizens to have their voices heard".

But Mr Twyford is determined to press on with his changes.

"We have to do this, because if we don't our kids will never be able to afford to live in this town," he told NZME.