New Zealand Law Society - Committee has no issues with controversial housing development

Committee has no issues with controversial housing development

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A government committee is recommending a bill that would allow a housing development on green land used by rare native birds to pass as is.  

The Point England Development Enabling Bill would enable a housing development on about a quarter of the Point England Recreation Reserve, amounting to 11.69ha in Tāmaki, east Auckland. The land is owned by the Crown and administered by the Auckland Council. It was identified as “under-utilised”, and part of it is fenced off and used for grazing livestock.  

The bill has gone through the select committee stage and is due to have a second reading.

The Local Government and Environment Committee reports that the housing development would provide about 300 new houses, some of which would likely be social and affordable housing.

To allow the land to be developed for housing, the bill would revoke the land’s reserve status under the Reserves Act. The remaining reserve would continue to be protected.  

Some submitters wanted to protect the habitat of the rare tūturiwhatu (Northern New Zealand dotterel), which nest in the area, saying the reserve was a significant breeding and nesting habitat. The committee said it was advised that there is “significant scope” for improvements to be made alongside the housing development to support the birds’ habitat, such as safe nesting spaces.  

“Ngāti Paoa explained that as kaitiaki (guardians) of the Point England area, it is responsible for the health of the land and water. Ngāti Paoa stressed its intention to enhance the mauri (life force) of the area, and to look after the nearby residents as well as visitors to the reserve. In particular, Ngāti Paoa hope to improve the quality of the reserve land, the Tāmaki River, and Omaru Creek. Ngāti Paoa considers that these improvements would increase public use of the reserve,” the report says.

Submitters were also concerned that the bill would reduce the reserve’s open space. The report says if the bill becomes law, over 10 hectares of the headland would become more accessible to the public.  

The Labour Party opposed the bill saying a better alternative would have been to offer Ngāti Paoa a marae and co-governance at the Point England Recreation Reserve as well as an adjacent housing development, without taking precious city parkland the community needs for future generations.

“The majority of us recommend that the bill be passed without amendment,” the committee’s report says. “We recognise the need for additional housing in Auckland, and the important contribution that this bill would make towards the finalisation of Ngāti Paoa’s Treaty settlement.  

“We consider that submitters’ concerns are mitigated by Ngāti Paoa’s commitment to improving the reserve’s recreational amenities and natural resources. We also support Ngāti Paoa’s commitment to protecting local birdlife.”  

It also says the development would be subject to further scrutiny and conditions.  

“Some of us do not support this bill, as we consider that it goes against the wishes of local residents. We note that, in addition to the submissions that opposed the bill, the committee also received two petitions opposing it.”

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