ACT wants to subdivide the Waitakere Ranges (or at least the foothills)

Written By: - Date published: 7:30 am, August 8th, 2017 - 22 comments
Categories: act, Conservation, election 2017, Environment, sustainability - Tags:

There was a great deal of attention on the policy announcements of the major parties this weekend.  One announcement was forward looking and a firm statement that business as usual was not working.  The other was somewhat ho hum and involved an extension to Auckland’s electrified rail network that Labour started as well as the third rail line in South Auckland.  This was the project that only a few years ago the Government wanted to bury the report for.  This should have been approved and started this year.  Hiding the report and then supporting the project shows some weird set of priorities.

The electrification of rail to Pukekohe is a good idea.  But Auckland Council recently decided to purchase hybrid trains that could service the area.  I hope there is another use for these trains.  Perhaps they could be added to the western line so that Huapai and Kumeu can be serviced properly.

And over on the edge of New Zealand politics a small nondescript party tried to attract attention by promising a gazillion new houses for Auckland.  Well maybe not a gazillion but the extraordinary figure of 600,000.

This would involve more than doubling the current number of houses in Auckland.  In 2013 there were 473,451 occupied dwellings.  So this figure would more than double the number of houses currently existing in Auckland.

There is a problem.  Under the term of this government which ACT and David Seymour are members of housing construction in Auckland is tanking, despite burgeoning need.  But this does not stop Seymour from trying to put the blame elsewhere.

From Stuff:

… Seymour promised to scrap the Rural Urban Boundary, paving the way for at least 600,000 homes to be built in Waitakere, Karaka and Clevedon.

He said he would also push the Government to abolish the Resource Management Act and replace it with laws that required councils to free up land as populations increased.

“These areas are not treasured natural landscapes. They are grassy fields with the occasional barn or horse.

“Allowing housing in these areas should be a bare minimum for any Government.”

The party would fund the infrastructure to service the new homes by sharing the GST on construction with councils, he said.

ACT’s plan does not have the support of the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society.

“He’s dreaming,” said president John Edgar of the policy.

Edgar said the foothills are a buffer zone between suburban sprawl and the Waitakere Ranges.”Sub-divisions would impact the ecology of the ranges.”

Edgar said there would have to be a very good reason to change the boundary. “Our fear would be if the boundary changed for one property it would open the flood gate and the boundary would get smaller and smaller,” he said.

Here is the ACT’s map.  The blue is the current urban form and the yellow is where it wants to allow subdivision to occur.

And here is the unitary plan map for the area.  Essentially Seymour is proposing that the land zoned Waitakere Foothills zone is subdivided.  All of it.

And here is the googlemap of the area. Note that significant parts of it are covered in bush and native forest, not the grassy field with the occasional barn that Seymour talked about.

To be frank the proposal is bonkers. There are major impediments to any proposal to change current zoning for the foothills. Roads are narrow and unsuited for large numbers. There is no reticulated sewerage through vast parts of the foothills. Much of the area is steep and prone to slips.

And good old mother nature and the Ranges perform some pretty important jobs for us humans.

  • They provide us with rural beauty, with artistic inspiration, and with a sense of serenity.
  • They control and manage rainfall and without the forest urban flooding would be much more problematic.
  • They provide us with fresh drinking water.
  • They provide a buffer to help preserve the health of the ranges.

The method that Seymour is using, the removal of the rural urban boundary will also have unintended consequences.  If there is no boundary for Auckland’s growh then why shouldn’t there be increased subdivision at Piha and Karekare and Bethells Te Henga …

I have not seen the details.  You have to spend good money on doing this and I have an aversion to funding anti environmental proposals.

Most advanced nations realise that urban sprawl has a very bad downside, with increased reliance on cars, a plethora of motorways and environmental destruction being inevitable consequences.  ACT’s proposal will only lock Auckland into the type of growth it has been spending many years trying to avoid.

Reprinted from

22 comments on “ACT wants to subdivide the Waitakere Ranges (or at least the foothills)”

  1. Ad 1

    I think the civil subcontractors in western Auckland would have a good idea of what would happen to their vehicles if they tried.

    The proposal to fell just one Kauri tree in Titirangi drew a few hundred.

    Watercare proposing to develop in Oratia activated thousands.

    Anything other than fulfilling the compact city based around rail stations that was promised in the 1990s would be fought directly, by tens of thousands.

    • Pete 1.1

      Tens of thousands will vote for Seymour in Epsom so he can continue his great deeds. His dweebish boyish charm may have them by the balls but if their eyesight was any good they’d see him as the slimy little hypocrite he is.

    • mickysavage 1.2

      Yep the people’s republic of Waitakere will not take too kindly to his proposal.

      • Cemetery Jones 1.2.1

        Sounds like something worth making some noise about. Those people up the road from me in Titirangi sure like to party [party vote blue team, that is]. I wonder if this party would be over if they realised that their nice cedar homes peacefully nestled in the bush will soon be defiled by mass deforestation to make way for a Botany Downs lookalike exurb? Imagine trying to get a table at Hardware with all that going on!

  2. Cinny 2

    Ripping up a forest to build houses… reals? Dang.

  3. Gareth Wilson 3

    Does Auckland really need housing for 1.2 million more people?

    • indiana 3.1

      Yes, even more! Sydney can hold all of NZ’s population – why fear large a metropolis?

      • McFlock 3.1.1

        need vs want.

        And the AucklandRegion, including Waitakere ranges, is already approaching Sydney’s population density.

  4. Brokenback 4

    Does anybody outside of great wall of Epsom take these clowns seriously?

  5. Steve Wrathall 5

    If you are not prepared to allow more land to build houses on, then you will see more people living in garages. It is as simple as that

  6. dv 6

    Tokyo land area 2188 s km population 9.3 million
    Auckland 1086 sq Km population 1.4 million

    SO AT Tokyo pop density, auckland could support population 4.6 million

    Bit simplistic, but need to go up.

  7. “These areas are not treasured natural landscapes. They are grassy fields with the occasional barn or horse.

    “Allowing housing in these areas should be a bare minimum for any Government.”

    I take it that ACToids don’t like eating.

    Here is the ACT’s map. The blue is the current urban form and the yellow is where it wants to allow subdivision to occur.

    Did you note that that map really isn’t all that clear as to where the new subdivisions would be? You can’t accurately trace it’s coloured areas onto an actual map or photo.

    This matches well onto the various forms of lying.

    The method that Seymour is using, the removal of the rural urban boundary will also have unintended consequences. If there is no boundary for Auckland’s growh then why shouldn’t there be increased subdivision at Piha and Karekare and Bethells Te Henga …

    I’d say that’s not an unintended consequence. That’d be exactly what they want. Piha is ripe for a high-rise hotel or five.

    • Steve Wrathall 7.1

      Where did you get this odd idea that food needs to be grown at the doorstep of a city in order to eat? This is not the middle ages.

      • And where else are you going to grow food? On the moon perhaps?

        Oh, wait, no that’d have to have a city there which you’d probably grow the food on the outskirts of.

        Oh, I know, within the city itself. Yeah, that’d do it. High-rise vertical farming ftw. I can just imagine the joy that the ACToids would have at having their low level city dwellings shaded by huge farms.

        PS, I’m a supporter of the Venus Project but that’s because it’ll allow us to return all that farm land to the wild which I doubt that you’re after.

  8. savenz 8

    ACT is just National party right wingers, who use ACT to get more electoral seats than they are entitled too, and to push out policy that 95% of the public don’t want, and pretend it’s not coming from National.

    Remember the supercity?

    Charter schools?

    Now ACT or NACT tearing down the few bits of forest we have left in Auckland so that it can be sold off to developers, not sure who is paying for the transport, waste water and infrastructure up grades and how many more cafes can exist in Auckland, driving the low wage economy here.

    In fact everywhere I go now, boarded up shops in fairly posh areas of Auckland. Make no mistake, businesses in particular cafe’s and food outlets are going bust in the city of sales. (pun intended).

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