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Appeals could delay Plan

[UPDATED] Last minute flurry of appeals on Unitary Plan received by Auckland Council could delay the enactment of parts of the Plan.

Monday, September 19th 2016, 12:30PM

by Miriam Bell

The deadline for lodging appeals against the Council’s decisions on the Unitary Plan was last Friday, September 16, at 5pm.

At midday on Friday, Council staff reported that approximately 30 appeals had been filed with the Environment Court.

However, by the end of the day, that number had jumped up considerably and over 100 appeals had been filed with the Environment Court.

There have also been a number of appeals on points of law which have been filed with the High Court.

On Friday, the Council said it would not be making any further comment on matters relating to the appeals as they are now before the courts.

But a Council spokesperson confirmed this morning that, following the increased number of appeals, the Council would be making a further statement later today.

The appeals could cause delays to progressing parts of the Unitary Plan as any part of the Plan which is challenged in an appeal will remain unresolved until the Environment Court rules on it.

While the appeals relating to small, specific aspects of the Plan are unlikely to be problematic, the appeals relating to larger, more broad-ranging aspects of the Plan will complicate matters, the Council spokesperson said.

The Council will expand on this in its statement later today, she added.

Some of those appealing aspects of the Unitary Plan include Housing New Zealand, Viaduct Harbour Holdings Ltd, Kiwi Property Group Ltd, Ryman Healthcare Limited, and a number of individual ratepayer and residents groups.

A full list of the appeals can be found on the Environment Court’s website here.

Residents’ lobby group Auckland 2040 together with the Character Coalition, have appealed on the issue of out of scope residential rezoning changes, which affect traditional single house zoned areas and which have been particularly controversial.

Auckland 2040 spokesperson Chris Handford said they believe the upzoning adopted by the Independent Hearings Panel (IHP) and the Council exceeds what is lawful.

“What the IHP / Council has done is a flagrant breach of established principles of natural justice that have been reinforced in case law over many years.”

All parts of the Unitary Plan which are not subject to an appeal came into force on September 16.

UPDATE: Auckland Council general manager plans and places John Duguid said the Council is still determining the effect the appeals will have on making the Plan operative.

He confirmed most of the appeals related to specific details of the Plan which wouldn’t impact on its overall implementation, but that a smaller number of appeals could have a broader impact.

The old rules of the various regional and district plans remain in place for those parts of the Plan that are under appeal, while the Plan remains in force otherwise, Duguid said.

This means consents will need to be assessed and approved against two sets of rules and decisions will need to be made on a case by case basis.

“It will be a top priority for the council to resolve these appeals and reduce the complexity it has on the consenting process.”

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