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Government tight-lipped on Unitary Plan

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 27/07/2016

After months of warning the Auckland Council to get its future-planning sorted, the government has gone tight-lipped following the release of a proposed Unitary Plan.

Auckland Council on Wednesday revealed the advice it has been given about the long-term planning rulebook for the city.

It's been told the best approach is a boost to density in the central city along with an expansion of urban borders and councillors now have to vote whether to accept it.

But after months of the government warning Auckland Council it needed to make sure it passed a comprehensive plan, Housing Minister Nick Smith said he wasn't in a position to comment about specifics after the release.

"Understanding how important the new plan is to Auckland's future, we want to give the Auckland Council the clear air to move through the recommendations."

"It is for the council to make those decisions on the basis of the panel's recommendations and any comments on the specifics could be interpreted as trying to influence the council's proper statutory decision."

There has been strong opposition against intensification from some homeowners in Auckland and Dr Smith acknowledged the council faced a challenge in accepting the plan.

"Auckland has not been previously been able to resolve the difficulties of how much it grew out as opposed to how much it grew up," he said.

He said while ministers needed time to comprehend the lengthy proposal, it appeared to meet many of the required housing goals and said it the panel had done a good job of balancing competing submissions.

Less than two weeks ago Finance Minister Bill English said the government would lean on the council to pass the plan even if it didn't like it.

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