Medium density housing in Ohariu
Wellington City Council's programme of encouraging more medium-density housing within its environs has caused some community angst. Johnsonville, in the heart of the Ohariu electorate, is one target for new housing rules, as are Karori and Khandallah. A packed public meeting was held in Khandallah last month, where opposition to the council's proposals was near unanimous.
Council staff stressed they were at the earliest stage of consultation and that no decisions had been made. But the 250-plus residents who attended the meeting were sceptical. Nonetheless, the meeting did conclude with people saying they would engage in the process.
Some confusion arose as to the Government's role. Council officers pointed out that their medium density housing proposals didn't result from the Special Housing Accord between Ministers and the city council.
I was able to to clarify that:
- The Government believes arbitrary urban limits constrain land supply and force prices up. Our priority remains freeing up land for development.
- Higher density housing will play some part in the solution.
- Where and how that's achieved is a matter between territorial authorities and residents, such as the process the city council has begun.
I was disappointed to hear a couple of councillors appear to blame the Resource Management Act for what I see as District Plan decisions their council has made. The RMA certainly needs some change, but it's not the legislation that is forcing local bodies to make the sort of District Plan classifications the councillors were referring to.
Housing Minister Nick Smith introduced a Bill to Parliament to amend the RMA early this month. It will allow for standardised, simpler templates, faster and more flexible planning, shorter timelines for consents, and stronger national direction around requiring provision for housing growth and national regulations.