Biggest change in Auckland's planning history now operative

Most of Auckland Council’s Unitary Plan becomes operative from today – taking the confusion out of whether resource consents will be granted under the old or new rules.

Many people had delayed applying for resource consents on numerous projects while confusion reigned over what the council was doing and when the Unitary Plan would become operative.

This has cost many developers and others time and money and it won’t be over until all appeals have been heard – predicted by experts to take at least a year and possibly longer, depending on the Environment and High Courts schedules.

Auckland Council wants the appeals heard as soon as possible so the full plan can become operative and the city can be developed under the new rules encouraging intensification and opening up greenfields land across large parts of Auckland.  

One of the biggest appeals is the Character Coalition and Auckland 2040 arguing against the upzoning of 29,000 homes from single house to multi-level development, near the end of the hearings process on an “out of scope basis” by the council, leaving those homeowners with no chance to have a say.

“That was a major blunder by the former council,” Character Coalition convener Sally Hughes says.

“Straight away, these property owners were denied natural justice. You can’t just rezone whole neighbourhoods without giving those people a say in what is happening.  The council has fairly and squarely brought this whole mess on itself.”

The coalition says there are 19 other parties appealing out of scope changes to zoning

The council says only those parts under appeal are subject to the old rules under district and regional plans.

Unitary Plan manager Celia Davison says as most of the appeals relate only to specific sites or provisions in the plan, large parts of the regional policy statement, regional plan and some parts of the district plan have been made operative.

“For those parts of the plan still subject to appeal, the old rules will remain in place with the council being required to assess all resource consent applications against the relevant parts of both the old and new plans.

“Decisions will need to be made on a case-by-case basis as to how much weight can be given to the Auckland Unitary Plan against the old district and regional plans,” Ms Davison says.

The plan officially referred to as the “Auckland Unitary Plan Operative in part” is available at www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/unitaryplan.

It consists of annotated text and maps helping users identify the parts that are not yet operative and under appeal.

Once all appeals are resolved, the Auckland Unitary Plan will be made fully operative. The council says it will be working with all parties to ensure that they are resolved as quickly as possible.

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