Medium Density Housing – Khandallah

Medium Density Housing – Khandallah

Below is the submission I made on Council’sproposal for medium density housing In Khandallah. While I support intensification as a concept, I considered the Council’s proposal to be considerably lacking. My submission was made in the context of Khandallah but it is as equally applicable to the other suburbs (Newlands, Karori and Island Bay) also impacted.

7 December 2015

Introduction

This submission highlights my key concerns around the;

  • robustness of Council’s policy towards medium density housing and the Khandallah suburban centre and its ability to implement
  • weaknesses in the approach taken by Council, i.e. processes, that will not deliver the outcomes intended
  • lack of effective engagement by Council with the Community (people) and the Council’s lack of understanding of the peoples’ needs and how they want to interact within their community

Given the MDH proposal was based on strategy developed in 2006, how robust is it really, in terms of current and projected data sources and factoring in the societal changes from events occurring over the past 10 years such as significant awareness around earthquakes, increased migration of businesses from Wellington, the growth of people working from home etc?

And because MDH has been so polarising and is such a complex subject in its own right, I do question how comprehensive any feedback will be around the “Town” centre. I for one have not had the time to consider this aspect and do not touch on it in my submission.

Overall I am against the medium density housing (MDH) proposed by Council. The Council has not demonstrated a cohesive and robust plan/strategy (which includes housing supply and choice; and infrastructure etc) towards planning for future growth and changing needs of people in suburbs.  What we need is a well-researched problem definition and an effective and efficient solution for intensification which the current MDH proposal is not.

For simplicity, I have kept my points at an outline level with the majority of my points further clarified in the Khandallah Residents’ group submission.  However if required I can provide further detail during the Council’s consideration period for all submissions and if it genuinely wants to engage with residents on their views.

Policy

The Council’s current proposal for MDH will have a larger detrimental effect on the suburb than the current intensification rules which themselves are being poorly administered by Council.

The proposed solution for housing supply and choice highlights that current and future problems are ill-defined with insufficient evidence to corroborate the problems (and the actual cause and effect) . Hence the solution proposed does not meet the current and future needs of the community. Explanations provided by Council both here in Khandallah and other suburbs demonstrates the lack of knowledge about the local community.

What I would like to see is a better administration of current rules, Council having effective engagement with government over improving the resource management act and a more cohesive and integrated plan for the development of the suburb (based on substantiated and clearly defined issues).

Any policy needs to give greater weight to impacts on existing property owners so that any future developments adjoining their property are considered in light of any impacts on road congestion, greater protection of boundaries and access to sunlight and privacy. Building heights over 8 metres and  increasing the light plan from 45 degrees are detrimental to the character of Khandallah. The policy also needs to factor in growth of public services and amenities for any change in demographics and how people interact in the community.

Intensification is happening already at a level that will meet the future projected growth of the suburb. What is not happening now is appropriate administration and implementation of the current rules and appropriate consideration and alignment of future infrastructure, environment, local character and societal needs.

Process

There are fundamental flaws in the Council’s processes around governance, leadership, community consultation, provision of information and robust data, town planning, and implementation and monitoring of agreed plans.

I am also concerned about the capacity (and therefore the capability) of Council to give effect to the number of consultations happening across the city at the moment.  This is evidenced by the “cookie approach” to MDH across all suburbs.  I recently attended a public meeting in Karori. What I s aw was exactly the same as for that prosed for Khandallah. The only significant difference was the map of the suburb. And for another suburb (such as Johnsonville) to literally have to take its own Council to Court to get it to listen, highlights a significant flaw.

All of the weaknesses outlined have long term consequences that, I believe, result in lack of effective Council governance and leadership, lack of transparency in Council’s activities, lack of public trust and confidence , lack of effective engagement by Council and lack of community driven and integrated sustainable solutions being developed and implemented by Council. And the impacts are real and facing suburban residents now; so immediate remedial action is required to improve the breadth of Council processes surrounding town planning.

People

It’s the people of a suburb that either reap the benefits and or bear the brunt of Council’s policies and plans. The Council needs to better engage with and allow residents to participate in the decision making around the future direction of their suburbs, in a more meaningful way. This point is strongly linked to the comments under “Process” above.

And I do wonder how well the Council have investigated and really understood how people in individual suburbs interact, how they want to live, work and play and if there are any special demographics of the community population which may lead to a more tailored approach in urban planning (beyond bricks and mortar). I know for me personally, both and my husband now work from home. This reduces the need to commute into the city, requires additional room for office space, influences my local shopping location choices, supports a greater use of local amenities etc.

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