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Auditor General rejects developer inquiry request

Auditor General rejects developer’s inquiry request

The Office of the Auditor General has rejected outright property developer Hugh Pavletich’s request to hold an inquiry into the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy.

In a letter of the decision, copied to the Christchurch City Council, Cathy Kenkel, sector manager local government for the Auditor General’s Office, says: “On balance, we have not become aware of any actions which would cause this Office to consider an enquiry necessary into the urban land use planning process undertaken for the Greater Christchurch Region. On this basis, we decline your request for any further enquiry into this process.”

Mr Pavletich claimed in his correspondence to the Auditor General that the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy was based on inadequate and possibly detrimental information and policies.

The Banks Peninsula, Selwyn, and Waimakariri district councils, Christchurch City Council, Environment Canterbury and Transit New Zealand are working together on the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy to help guide them in drafting a long-term plan for dealing with growth in the Greater Christchurch region.

Mr Pavletich’s concerns included:

- the potential impact of public policy on housing affordability in the region,

- a lack of internal controls and the role of the auditor in the process,

- statutory compliance issues - particularly on lack of disclosure by officers –

- and the potential harm likely to result if a smart growth strategy were adopted.

Ms Kenkel said that, having examined the procedure, the Auditor’s General’s Office was of the view that Mr Pavletich had received “considerable opportunity” to be involved in the consultation process, which was consistent with the principles of the Local Government Act 2002. The process used was also consistent with obligations under the Act to consult with the community – providing further opportunity for continued involvement.

“We see no evidence that the process undertaken to develop the Urban Development Strategy is inconsistent with the requirement or the intent of the Act,” Ms Kenkel says.

“What policy measures are appropriate to take to resolve these issues are determined by the elected representatives, assisted by the staff of Council, while having regard to community views through consultation processes.

“We note that these steps may not always include increased land release which is clearly your preferred option. But this is a policy choice and not the Office’s role to comment upon,” Ms Kenkel says.

Chairman of the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Forum and mayor of Banks Peninsula, Bob Parker, says the Auditor General response had upheld what the Greater Christchurch UDS partners had always believed was a robust process by which to plan long-term for the region.

“I am confident that the Auditor General office response will show the people of Greater Christchurch that they are taking part in a unique process where their very wide range of views and experience, should produce an excellent result for our communities,” Mr Parker says.

Note: An electronic copy of the decision by the Office of the Auditor General is available from the Council on request.

ENDS

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