Auckland Unitary Plan Update

The Auckland Unitary Plan Independent Hearings Panel completed its hearings on submissions on the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan on 13 May 2016.

A list of hearing topics and the evidence the Panel received on each of them, together with interim guidance issued by the Panel on some topics and other Panel material, can be viewed on the Panel’s website The Panel is now deliberating, and will provide its recommendation reports to the Council on 22 July 2016. The Council proposes to make the Panel’s recommendations publicly available on its website on 27 July 2016.

The Panel must provide its recommendations to the Council in the form of one or more reports. Each report must include:

• recommendations on the topic(s) covered by the report;

• decisions on the provisions and matters raised in submissions made in respect of the topic(s) covered by each report; and

• reasons for accepting or rejecting submissions.

The Panel may make recommendations that are beyond the scope of any submissions on the Plan, but where it does so it must identify those recommendations as being out of scope. Following receipt of the recommendations, the Council will consider the recommendations and conduct its deliberations on the recommendations in public at meetings on 12-18 August 2016, before publicly notifying its decisions on 19 August 2016, which is the 20 working day period allowed under the Local Government (Auckland Transitional Provisions) Act 2010 (Act). Under the Act, the Council may accept or reject the Panel’s recommendations, but where it rejects any recommendation it must propose an alternative solution in place of the one it has rejected, and that alternative solution must be within the scope of submissions.

Once the Council has publicly notified its decisions, the Act provides for limited (and somewhat complex) rights of appeal within a further 20 working days. Whether, and to what extent, submitters or other parties may appeal against any particular provision is affected by whether the Panel’s recommendation on that provision is within the scope of submissions, and whether the recommendation is accepted or rejected by the Council.

When the provisions in the Plan will become operative will depend on the nature and extent of appeals lodged. The Act provides that the Plan (or part thereof) will be deemed to be approved by Council as at:

• the date on which the appeal period expires, if no appeals have been made relating to that part; or

• the date on which all appeals relating to that part of the Plan are determined, if there are appeals.

The Council must notify the date upon which the Plan, or each part of the Plan, becomes operative. Accordingly, the Plan will not become fully operative until such time as any appeals have been resolved. Until then, the Policy Statements and Plans of the former Regional, City and District Councils will remain in force alongside the proposed Unitary Plan.

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