Unitary Plan Update – February 2015

Home Insights Unitary Plan Update – February 2015

Contributed by:

Contributed by: Francelle Lupis and Michael Doesburg

Published on:

Published on: February 11, 2015


Interim Guidance on the Proposed Regional Policy Statement

On Monday 9 February the Hearings Panel released a conference minute following the conference held on 27 January to discuss Russell McVeagh’s request (at our initiative) for interim guidance on the Regional Policy Statement. (The Panel’s independent legal advice on the legal issues arising from the conference is also available here.)

The Panel has confirmed that it will issue interim guidance on the principal issues arising from submissions on the proposed Regional Policy Statement, once the Panel has completed the RPS hearings, deliberated, and drafted that interim guidance. That interim guidance is likely to be released in mid-March.

According to the minute:

  • In most cases the guidance will be an “indication” of the Panel’s view about a particular matter or policy approach, without including a detailed mark-up text of the provisions. (Again, the Panel has referred to the example of whether or not they presently consider that the Rural Urban Boundary is appropriate or not. Any indication about the RUB would not be accompanied by a mark-up section of the RPS, or maps.)
  • The guidance may also include questions, which submitters can then pose answers to in subsequent hearings, to narrow the relevant issues.
  • There may be some cases where the interim view of the Panel could include marked-up text, particularly if the submissions have focussed on a particular word or definition which could be the subject of a policy decision.

The Panel’s minute is clear about the nature of the guidance and how it will be dealt with in subsequent proceedings:

  • It will be interim, not a final recommendation from the Panel, and so will not require any “decision” from the Council at this stage.
  • The Panel will not be bound by the guidance when it comes to making recommendations to the Council – instead, the Panel will retain their power to make recommendations on all evidence and submissions heard.
  • In subsequent hearings, the guidance can be referred to in evidence, submissions or in discussions by witnesses, in order to focus evidence (either in support of or in opposition to the interim guidance) or to show how the relevant regional or district plan provisions give effect (or not) to the interim guidance.

Importantly the guidance will not be open to correspondence, as the Panel is keen to avoid any further debate outside the usual hearing process.

This is an excellent outcome, which should significantly improve the hearing process for the remainder of the Plan.

Provisional hearing schedule updated

On 4 February the Hearings Panel updated its provisional hearing schedule of pre-hearing meetings, mediation, expert conferences and hearings. The most recent amendments relate primarily to expert conferencing and mediation dates and are detailed below.  

  • Expert conferencing days have now been re-allocated to mediation for Topics 039 (Hazardous substances and ITAs), 040 (Lighting, noise and vibration), 042 (Infrastructure), 043/044 (Transport), and 051/052/053/054 (Centres/Business zones). Expert conferencing in able to occur as part of mediation if the mediator considers it appropriate.
  • A number of mediation days have been deleted, added and moved for Topics 022 (Natural Hazards and flooding), 029/030 (Special character/Pre-1944), 036 (Maori land and treaty), 039 (hazardous substances and ITAs), 042 (Infrastructure), 051/052/053/054 (Centres/Business zones), 055 (Social infrastructure) and 056/057 (Rural).

Admin schedule updated

The admin schedule has also been updated. 

In particular, in December 2014 the Council sought an adjournment of Topics 029/030 (Special Character and Pre-1944) to allow them time to complete a new analysis of the notified Special Character and Pre-1944 areas.  The Panel has released its decision on the issue and have decided to retain Topics 029/030 and the timeframes insofar as those Topics relate to the text of the provisions. However, the submission points relating to the spatial, site specific and/or mapping aspects of the topic have been reallocated to a new hearing topic (Topic 079: Special Character and Pre-1944 Mapping) which will be heard later in 2015.

Other changes include:

  • Evidence exchange dates being extended by a few days for submitter evidence and rebuttal for Topic 035 (Air Quality).
  • Key dates being added for Topics 056/057 (Rural), 038 (Contaminated land) and 039 (Hazardous substances and ITAs).

The hearing and admin dates continue to change frequently and we will keep you updated as to the most significant revisions to the schedules in future Unitary Plan Updates.

Upcoming deadlines

February consists predominantly of mediations and pre-hearing meetings. However, there are also a number of RSVP deadlines, Auckland Council red-line due dates, and evidence deadlines. Please refer to the provisional admin schedule for further details. 

The following pre-hearing meeting dates are currently scheduled for February:

  • Topic 056/057 (Rural) – 23 February
  • Topic 038 – Contaminated land – 23 February
  • Topic 039 – Hazardous substances and ITAs – 23 February
  • Topic 075 – Waitakere Ranges – 24 February

The following mediation dates are currently scheduled for February:

  • Topic 050 (City Centre) – 26-27 February and 2-3 & 9 March
  • Topic 031 (Historic Heritage) – 11-13 February
  • Topic 045 (Airport) – 16-17 & 24-25 February
  • Topic 041 (Earthworks and Minerals) – 16-17 February and 4-5, 11-12 & 18 March
  • Topic 022 (Natural Hazards and Flooding) – 18-19 & 24-25 February
  • Topic 027 (Artworks, Signs and Temporary Activities) – 20 February
  • Topics 029/030 (Special Character and Pre-1944 Building Demolition Overlay) – 26-27 February and 6 March
  • Topic 018 (RPS – General) – 27 February and 2-3 March



If you have any questions about the items in this newsletter, please contact any of the partners or authors of the articles as listed above.

The publication is intended only to provide a brief summary of the subjects covered. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on as such without first obtaining specific professional advice based on your unique circumstances.

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