Property values radically changed under the Unitary Plan.
13th March 2013
[statement from David Thornton]
Auckland ratepayers could have their property values radically changed under the Unitary Plan.
The Auckland Council is about to launch its first draft Unitary Plan which contains all the rules and zoning changes which are needed if the much-vaunted Auckland Plan is to be implemented.
These zoning changes will affect market assessments of property values, especially where higher densities are proposed, either increasing value because of development potential, or reducing value because of loss of amenity.
The Auckland Plan is in fact the Mayor’s Vision for Auckland as required under the Super City legislation.
That final Auckland Plan was not subjected to any formal test of public approval or a formal objection and appeal process, in fact the legislation did not require such a test.
The Unitary Plan, about to be launched, is a first draft of the formal Proposed Unitary Plan which must be prepared under the provisions of the Resource Management Act.
This draft Plan, about to be launched, will invite informal feedback, after which the Proposed Unitary Plan will be notified for formal consultation, and that will be subject to submissions which will be deliberated on by a special panel.
The panel will make recommendations to the Council which may accept or reject those recommendations.
Recommendations which are accepted by the Council cannot be appealed except on a point of law.
Any recommendations rejected by the council can be challenged in the Environment Court.
This process is set out in a Bill currently before a Select Committee of Parliament, which is considering submissions made before the close-off date on 28th February and which is due to report back to the House on June 11th.
The Auckland Council has made submissions on the Bill seeking to have legal weight given to the Proposed Unitary Plan on the date it is notified for formal public consultation.
If Parliament agreed to the Council’s proposal it would mean that zoning changes, which will affect property values, would have legal status, and be acted on, before any formal submissions and subsequent appeals from property owners had been considered.
This whole process underlines the necessity for ratepayers to carefully consider how the proposals in the first draft of the Proposed Unitary Plan will affect their property, in terms of both amenity and value, and to put their views to the Council before the formal Proposed Plan is approved for notification.
The rush by the Council to get its Proposed Unitary Plan in place by the end of the year could spell significant financial disadvantages to all property owners.
[Note. David Thornton is a former North Shore City Councillor and Hearings Commissioner under the RMA]