Independent commissioners for plan change hearings
Waitakere to use independent commissioners For plan change hearings around Whenuapai
Waitakere City Council is to use independent commissioners to hear submissions on its proposed District Plan change, that will reserve the Whenuapai Airbase area for aviation uses only.
Waitakere City Council has been a prime mover in having Whenuapai retained as a civilian airport after the air force moves out. The proposed District Plan change – referred to as Plan Change 22 – would create the zoning for that to happen.
The decision was made by the council’s Planning and Regulatory Committee which had to choose between the options of using fully independent commissioners, the council conducting the hearings or having a mix of council and independent commissioners with the independents in the majority.
“Usually councillors would conduct hearings but this affects North Shore and Rodney as well. There has been a lot of strong feeling both for and against the proposed airport and I believe it is essential to do everything we can to re-assure the public, that the process is objective, transparent and without bias,” says Councillor Vanessa Neeson, the chairman of the committee.
Mrs Neeson says she expects the hearings to be conducted towards the end of the year.
“In the meantime, it is important to remember that this is not a decision to create an airport. The plan change only changes the zoning around the base so that an airport can be operated from Whenuapai, if and when the air force leaves.
“That decision may not be made for years yet – and may never be made – but if that is the choice, the plan change makes it possible to have an airport there,” says Councillor Neeson.
Waitakere City Council received around 2500 submissions – but notes that a large number were pro forma.