Published 2 March 2010
The Auckland Regional Council has learned a new word in its dying days: succinct.
After producing a monumental review of the state of the regional environment last month – to be released in a couple of weeks – the regional politicians were confronted with a timetable for the review of the regional policy statement that would take hearings beyond election time in October.
Regional policy group manager Noel Reardon told the council’s regional strategy & planning committee today staff would complete several technical workstreams in the next month and the process, begun in November 2007, had reached the stage when pre-notification consultation would normally occur.
But the same staff who would progress this were also required to deal with regional plan changes, appeals against the regional policy statement and the regional plan for air, land & water, and over shifts in the metropolitan urban limit.
Meanwhile, the basis for any policy was shifting – apart from the switch to the new unitary Auckland Council in November, legislative changes include the second phase of reforms to the Resource Management Act, transport legislation, new national policy statements and new national environmental standards, and there is a proposal for a new spatial planning framework for the region.
Mr Reardon said the council could formally notify its regional policy statement review: “However, even were it to be notified today, the consultation requirements & public notification timeframes in the Resource Management Act mean the hearing of submissions and decision on the proposed policy statement would rest with the new council.”
Mr Reardon said providing the new council with an adaptable policy framework might be of more use.
The council’s second option was to halt the review, neither adopting no notifying the draft, which would waste work already done on it.
The third option, recommended by staff and approved by councillors, was to adopt the review & supporting technical documents but not notify it: “The draft could then be handed to the Auckland Transition Agency or the Auckland Council to inform the development of a new planning framework.” The council will still undertake some targeted consultation, focusing on the workability of policies.
The policy statement directly affects how land is to be developed, and Cllr Joel Cayford was one who expressed concern at handing over a half-finished document on vital matters such as that. He said that, in terms of the amended Resource Management Act & new governance structure, “the regional policy statement that we’ve been working on so hard could be entirely irrlevant”.
Cllr Cayford suggested, and others agreed, the regional council’s best course now would be to compile a document containing schedules, maps, specifics on development corridors & the like, “leaving a pretty succinct legacy document of future direction for the region. I see it as a 20-page sort of thing, so it doesn’t get lost. I don’t have any confidence in the Auckland Council producing anything for a while. If we could pull together some of the real grunty bits of what we’ve done, it won’t have been consulted over but it will be our best shot of it, land use stuff, it would be a useful thing to hand on.”
4 December 2008: ARC sets out way to a firmer grip on development
6 August 2008: ARC land & transport policy jigsaw starts to come together
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Attribution: Council committee meeting & agenda, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.