New Zealand Law Society - Unitary plan release ends major consultation process

Unitary plan release ends major consultation process

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The Auckland Unitary Plan Independent Hearings Panel has delivered its recommendations on the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan to the Auckland Council, bringing to an end what must be one of New Zealand's most extensive consultation processes.

The Panel's report and recommendations comes after the Plan was notified on 30 September 2013. The Panel was given the Plan, along with over 13,000 submissions on it, in September 2014 and then began an extensive process to hear those submissions and consider them against the Plan provisions.

Detailed information on the proposed Unitary Plan for New Zealand's largest urban area is available here.

The hearing process was completed in May 2016, by which time the Panel had considered over 10,000 items of evidence presented during 249 days of hearings across 70 hearing topics. During this time, there were over 4,000 appearances by submitters in front of the Panel.

"The scale of participation in this process demonstrates the importance of the Plan to Auckland," the Panel says in its report. 

"The commitment of submitters was significant, all the more so from the many individuals and community groups who came forward to express their views directly, despite the challenges of the hearing process. This investment by all these people in the Plan establishes a foundation for it as one of the essential planning documents for Auckland."

Who was on the Panel?

Chaired by Judge David Kirkpatrick, the 11-member panel's recommendations are unanimous. The Panel's website will remain available, with all hearing documents and evidence.

The Panel was appointed by the Minister for the Environment and the Minister for Conservation. Members included barrister Peter Fuller along with resource management and planning consultants. Assistance was provided by 15 mediators and facilitators.

Next steps

The Auckland Council is now required to consider the Panel's recommendations and make decisions on whether to accept, accept in part, or reject recommendations.

The Council is required to notify its decisions to the public and to submitters by 19 August 2016. An appeal period pursuant to sections 155 to 159 of the Local Government (Auckland Transitional Provisions) Act 2010 will then begin.

The Auckland Council is required to notify the date on which the plan, or each part of the plan, will become operative, pursuant to clause 20 of Schedule 1 of the Resource Management Act 1991.