The HGIDP keeps Waiheke and Great Barrier Island separate from the Auckland Plan. As such it protects Waiheke from the urban intensification implicit in the ‘up not out’ philosophy of the Auckland Plan. Waiheke is only one of three communities around the region that has a community planning document so it is not surprising that Council’s planning department has considered a review unnecessary.
Which begs the question - why has the WLB chosen to allocate a whopping $20,000 to yet another review? It smacks of a hidden agenda. This is especially so as the officer’s report in the Board’s agenda makes the following assertion:
“8. Considerable development and other changes have occurred on the island since 2005 and the Auckland Plan was adopted in 2012 to provide a new strategic direction for the region.”
Apart from a few new houses, a new library and a new supermarket there has been little or no new development on the island. It would appear then that what Walden wants from reviewing Essentially Waiheke is an alignment with the Auckland Plan.
The only ‘new strategic direction’ can be increased urbanisation and intensification which of course is what the Walden family wants in order to progress its ambitions for a new village on their 51 hectares of land at the end of Onetangi Straight, which also requires a reticulation project.
The Walden development flies in the face of the current Essentially Waiheke document which is why it is not permitted under the HGIDP.
The officer’s report goes on:
15. It is anticipated that whilst some parts of Essentially Waiheke will require updating, review or additions, much of the plan will remain valid and will simply need to be reaffirmed. Effort will therefore focus effort on a selective review, rather than fundamentally revisiting the entire document.
So the $20,000 is for a ‘selective’ review. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know which parts will be selected for review and guess who is doing the selecting. That’s right, Mr Walden. And once you’ve given $20,000 of ratepayers' money to your hand-picked mates who’ll be revising the document you’re home and hosed.
There’ll be a sop to the Greenies in the form of new marine reserves that will allow Walden to pull the wool over their eyes, but the work of urbanisation started by this Board (no dogs on tracks unless on leash just like the inner city, more cycle lanes, regional signage etc.) will continue and intensify.
If they eventually get their way, isn’t it ironic that it will be the Greens that will be responsible for changing Waiheke forever into just another built-up suburb of inner-city Auckland.