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AK Unitary Plan should be withdrawn, clarified & amended

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Founder – David Thornton David@nomorerates.co.nz

MEDIA RELEASE

27 Feb 2014

[statement by David Thornton}

Auckland Proposed Unitary Plan should be withdrawn, clarified and amended.

The Auckland Council today approved a submission to the Proposed Unitary Plan which allows substantial influence to local iwi and is likely to add delays and additional costs to both property owners and ratepayers.

Many residents and others have been expressing concern at recently revealed sections of the Unitary Plan which permit 19 local iwi to become involved in resource consent applications.

The provisions causing concern are those which require Cultural Impact Assessments {CIA} on any site identified within the Unitary Plan.

The CIAs involve consultation with appropriate iwi which will lead inevitably to additional costs to affected projects.

Applicants can be asked to provide CIAs at any site where building or development is being proposed.

Council’s ‘fact sheet’ states there are only 61 sites and places of significance to Mana Whenua and an unknown number of sites and places of value to Mana Whenua – later identified as 3,600 sites with thousands more possible sites.

I attended today’s meeting of the Council’s Governing Body and witnessed the overwhelming power the Council seeks to exert in pushing ahead with a Plan which has considerable flaws, largely caused by the sheer size of the 9,000 page plan, plus the indecent haste with which it has been progressed under the Mayor’s repeated demands for ‘pace’ over the last three years.

The senior planner told council that it cannot amend the plan at this late stage, and that the Chairman of the Hearing Panel has refused an extention of time which would allow submissions on the serious concerns being expressed on the recently clarified provisions for significant iwi involvement in resource consents.  

In view of the significant concerns arising at this late stage, and the inability to change the Plan, I believe the proper course of action is for the Council to withdraw the plan, reconsider these issues, and then re-notify.

The process for withdrawal is specifically permitted under the Resource Management Act

It should be noted that Council planners have acknowledged that there are a number of errors in the plan which have been identified.

The Ministry for the Environment has also commented on matters where insufficient information has been provided for a variety of issues in the Plan.

The rush to notify the Plan prior to last year’s Local Elections has resulted in the Unitary Plan being deficient in terms of careful and thorough preparation and consideration by Mayor and Councillors, and subsequently by ratepayers and residents.

Withdrawal is the only satisfactory way forward.

[David Thornton has more than 20 years’ experience in Local Government including elected member status at city and regional council and community board level. He writes and comments in various media.]

ENDS

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