Council proposes tougher rules on freedom camping after outc

Auckland Council will propose a more restrictive freedom camping bylaw following an outcry over plans to introduce a more lax law earlier
this year.

In June, Council’s Governing Body was set to vote on a controversial bylaw that would have allowed unlimited use of residential streets for freedom camping and only modest restrictions on freedom campers’ use of reserves.

The Omaha Beach Community (OBC) resident’s group was so incensed by the bylaw that it mounted a legal challenge to thwart it, arguing that the public consultation process over the bylaw was flawed.

The challenge prompted Mayor Phil Goff to defer a vote on the bylaw while the legal implications were considered.

Last month, the Governing Body supported new proposals by Mr Goff that Council consider “clearer prohibitions and restrictions on where freedom camping will be allowed in the Auckland region”.   

“With rapid growth in freedom camping and an irresponsible approach by a minority of campers, Aucklanders have expressed concern around the need to exercise control over freedom camping – I share their concern,” Mr Goff said.

“Council and commercial camping grounds are quite cheap to stay at and offer proper facilities, and that’s where we would want most campervans to stay overnight. Communities don’t want public parking areas and reserves to be overwhelmed or damaged by overnight campers.”

Rodney Councillor Greg Sayers, who opposed the original bylaw, said the Mayor’s comments represent a complete about-face on the issue on his part, and he is delighted by the change of heart.  

“All of Auckland has been rescued from becoming one giant freedom camping site and, instead, the new bylaw will identify appropriate and well-equipped sites where people can safely stay,” he said.

Council officers will report back on proposals for a more restrictive freedom camping bylaw, which by law must be subject to further public consultation.

Meanwhile, OBC president Chris Allan says he is pleased Council is taking a more “sensible approach”.

“The original Council process was so flawed it was ridiculous. I think they will have learned a few lessons from this,” he says.

“I’m grateful Phil Goff has gone back to the drawing board – the people have spoken.”

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