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Council rejects any change to rates relief policy

09 June 2008

Media release

Council rejects any change to rates relief policy

A proposal to limit Waitakere City’s Green Network rates relief policy has been rejected by the council’s Policy & Strategy Committee.

Councillors felt that limiting rates relief to a maximum of five years, or until the property is sold, would discourage private landowners from seeking covenants to protect and restore significant natural areas on their properties.

The council introduced the Green Network Community Assistance Programme (GNCAP) in 1997 as a way of encouraging the long-term protection of significant or outstanding vegetation. Landowners are eligible for rates relief if they have either a Queen Elizabeth II National Trust Open Space Covenant or a Green Network Conservation Covenant.

However, with an increasing number of property owners applying for covenants and seeking rates relief each year through the GNCAP, a review of the current policy was needed to ensure that it can be financially sustainable.

An additional $27,000 is required to cover the expected $45,500 total rates relief payout for the next financial year, leading the Policy & Strategy Committee to request that future funding for the programme come through the Long Term Council Community Plan (LTCCP) process.

Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse, chair of the Policy & Strategy Committee, says the city relies on the goodwill of these landowners, most of whom allow public access to their properties, to help protect the city’s streams and green corridors for future generations.

“It would be somewhat contradictory for us to encourage people to preserve environmentally-valuable tracts of land for the city through the Heritage Act and yet provide a disincentive in our own Green Network programme by limiting assistance,” says Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse, chair of the Policy & Strategy Committee.

“As an eco city, our natural areas are important to us, so we need to be doing something positive and meaningful to help landowners with the long-term costs associated with their preservation and restoration.


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