Why should you care about Auckland’s Unitary Plan?

Especially if you don’t live in Auckland.  Apart from the fact that Auckland is large enough to affect the economy and lives of the rest of the country, your city and regional councils will be required to one one of their own.

Todd Niall has provided a handy overview of what a Unitary Plan is meant to achieve.

1. What’s the Unitary Plan?

It’s the rulebook for Auckland’s future development, and replaces dozens of old plans and strategies covering everything from environmental and heritage protection, to – contentiously – where higher density housing and urban sprawl will be allowed. It’s the biggest single planning change in Auckland’s history.

2. What happens today?

An Independent Hearings Panel has listened to 249 days of submissions after which it re-wrote the plan proposed to it in 2013 by the council. It was presented to council management last Friday, and after days of analysis by planners, will be explained to councillors today, then released publicly.

3. Is it a done deal then?

No. The panel “recommends” the plan to the council and the politicians must consider it in meetings spanning up to seven days starting on 10 August. Under a timeline set by the government, it must finalise the plan within 20 working days, which is 19 August.

4. Can the council make changes to it?

In theory, yes. In practice, making significant or contentious change will be difficult.


8. What chicanery should I look out for?

Councillors on Thursday 28 July will debate a move by several of their number, to shift the Plan consideration away from the Auckland Development Committee, and before the council’s Governing Body. In reality this makes no difference, but would exclude from the debate, two members of the Independent Māori Statutory Board (IMSB) who have voting rights on the committee, but not on the Governing Body.

The IMSB would be expected to react strongly if that occurred, as it’s legislated role is to sit on committees dealing with the city’s natural and physical resources. If it was removed from the process, legal action could be an option, threatening the timely implementation of the Unitary Plan, and upsetting the government.

Oh dear.  The whole of Auckland’s future is hanging on a potential Taniwha Tax.

The plan has been made available here.   Few will want to go where angels fear to tread.   The few with Maori blood on the other hand can see gold them hills.


– Todd Niall, RNZ

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