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Refinements to Auckland Unitary Plan process announced

Hon Dr Nick Smith
Minister for the Environment
Minister for Building and Housing

16 September 2015

Refinements to Auckland Unitary Plan process announced

A Bill will be introduced to Parliament to give the Auckland Unitary Plan Independent Hearings Panel more flexibility and help it meet its statutory deadline, Environment and Building and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith and Auckland Mayor Len Brown announced today.

“This Bill is needed to maintain the momentum of lifting Auckland’s housing supply. The house build rate has been growing at over 20 per cent since the Housing Accord was signed, to reach the highest point in a decade. We need the Auckland Unitary Plan and its enabling provisions for more housing development through both intensification and greenfields by October next year when the Special Housing Areas legislation expires,” Dr Smith says.

“It has been a herculean task to complete the largest plan in the 24-year history of the Resource Management Act in record time. The Panel has made great progress in hearing thousands of submissions on the plan’s policy issues but now have over 5000 more on site-specific property issues. This will not be achievable without refinements in the process enabling multiple hearings panels to sit simultaneously next year. These practical changes will help the Panel and the council to get the job done on time,” Dr Smith says.

The Bill will make four changes to the Resource Management Amendment Act 2013, which provides for the Independent Hearings Panel:

• A reduction in the quorum from three to two members;

• Allowing extra panel members to be appointed;

• Clarifies that the Panel may hold concurrent sessions and alternate chairs appointed;

• Enabling the Panel to make recommendations to the Auckland Council in stages.

“The Unitary Plan is the rulebook for the future of Auckland and it’s vital we get the process right and concluded on time. Any opportunity to improve the process by giving the Panel more flexibility is welcome in principle,” Mr Brown says.

“These refinements maintain the integrity of the Panel’s work but will enable it to meet the report back timetable by 22 July 2016. The Bill is expected to be passed by year’s end, and the hearings on individual site issues to begin in January 2016,” Mr Brown says.

“There are huge benefits for Auckland in having a new plan for the city and we must do all we can to conclude this complex job in 2016,” Dr Smith and Mr Brown concluded.

ENDS

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