Auckland councillors reject plan to rezone area for homes due to floodplain

4 May 2023. Erin Johnson, STUFF. Auckland councillors have rejected a request to rezone an area of north-west Auckland for homes due to the affected land being on a floodplain.

The request is to rezone 80.5 hectares of land at Riverhead to enable between 1500 and 1800 homes to be built.

But, mayor Wayne Brown said the timing was wrong and proposed rejecting the request, with one of his key concerns flooding on part of the land.

Councillors and Independent Māori Statutory Board members of the council’s planning, environment and parks committee heard on Thursday that 8ha of the proposed area for development is identified as being a floodplain.

 “We’ve just had recent lessons about flooding, and we turned out not to be taking it as seriously as we should,” Brown said.

Brown is also concerned the plan change doesn’t allow the council to properly plan for infrastructure.

“Timing is basically wrong, there’s no public transport plans yet committed to this area. We’re trying to resolve this, but that will take time.” 

The area of Riverhead, in yellow, is the subject of a private plan change request to Auckland Council that was rejected by the planning, environment and parks committee on Thursday. 

The request comes from the Riverhead Landowner Group, which is made up of developers Fletcher Residential Limited, The Neil Group, and Matvin Group, and seeks to rezone land currently zoned as Future Urban to a mix of residential zones with a small local centre and neighbourhood centre.

The concerned land lies in the Rodney ward and local councillor, Greg Sayers, said his concerns were around stormwater and transport implications.

“There is flooding already identified on a section of that property and it may be able to be mitigated, but we do have areas of Auckland that weren’t on floodplains at all that went right under,” Sayers said.

“It doesn’t seem sensible to me to build intense housing on or near a floodplain.”

Councillor for Manurewa-Papakura ward, Angela Dalton, said Aucklanders are looking at councillors for stronger leadership to not build in floodplain areas.

 “Here we have an opportunity to test this because we do have grounds, as listed, to get a decision by the Environment Court but we must show Aucklanders that we are listening to them, that we hear that they want us no longer to build in areas that are going to flood.”

Auckland Council planning manager Peter Vari said the developers acknowledged the floodplain and that it would be managed.

Vari also said the developer proposes a series of improvements to the Coatesville-Riverhead Highway where it fronts the site.

However, there is an issue about what is required to improve that road in the wider area, in particular about walking and cycling improvements, Vari said.

Deputy mayor Desley Simpson and Manukau ward councillor Alf Filipaina voted against the rejecting the application.

Filipaina said the development was ten years away and the developers understand the reality of the issues faced in Auckland.