Unitary Plan Update – July 2016

Home Insights Unitary Plan Update – July 2016

Contributed by:

Contributed by: Allison Arthur-Young and Bronwyn Carruthers

Published on:

Published on: July 28, 2016


The Independent Hearing Panel’s recommendations were released to the public yesterday afternoon. Who Won? Who Lost? What has changed? We will be contacting individual clients on site or precinct specific changes, but set out below are some of the key general takeaways coming out of the recommendations (in no particular order) to help you out at the water cooler today. More detail will follow in the coming days.

  • In many situations the Panel has preferred the evidence of submitters or submitter groups to the Council. The Panel has also specifically endorsed the collaborative approach taken by submitters on a number of topics.
  • Many of the site-specific provisions sought by submitters, including new precincts, have been granted.
  • A number of overlays have been removed, including the pre-1944 demolition control.
  • The infrastructure provisions almost entirely reflect the position reached at the end of the infrastructure topic, with the infrastructure provisions being located in a single standalone chapter, as requested by the Auckland Utility Operators Group.
  • The RUB has been pushed out in some parts, and additional enablement provided within the RUB to enable an additional 420,000 dwellings over the next 24 years.
  • The Sites and Places of Value to Mana Whenua overlay has been removed.
  • The Panel has focussed the provisions on what can most appropriately be done under the RMA and has left out things which are not appropriately regulated under the RMA (such as Building Act matters).
  • Objectives and policies have been redrafted so that the planning provisions are not, except where intended, worded using absolute terms. This will avoid activities being inappropriately restricted by the effect of the New Zealand King Salmon Supreme Court decision
  • The Panel has split the viewshafts into two categories, regionally and locally significant (as recommended by the expert group, but opposed by Council).
  • Parking standards have been removed for residential zones, and for retail there are parking minimums but no maximums
  • The Panel has generally endorsed the position taken by the development submitter group in relation to the earthworks, hazards and flooding provisions.
  • The affordable housing and green star building provisions have been removed.
  • The Council’s aversion to the use of controlled activities has been rejected by the Hearing Panel, who have utilised controlled activity status for a range of key activities.
  • The road, rail and quarry transport overlays have all been removed.
  • Requirements for CIAs, ITAs and design statements have been removed.
  • The Airport noise overlay has been retained.
  • Default activity status has been changed from non-complying to discretionary activity status.
  • At a general level, restricted discretionary activities will be subject to the normal tests of notification, except where the specific activity table provides for non-notification.
  • The Panel has removed the framework plans to avoid the ongoing uncertainty in relation to the lawfulness of those provisions.
  • The definition of infrastructure has been amended to align it with the definition in the Resource Management Act 1991, with only a small number of extensions.
  • The distinction of infrastructure based on significance has been removed to recognise that the efficacy of an infrastructure service almost always depends on all its elements.
  • It is recognised that to be effective and efficient infrastructure may need to be located in (including traversing) sensitive areas where there is a functional or operational need for it to do so (and these terms are now defined).
  • Restricted discretionary activity assessment criteria has been simplified focussed on the aspects of concern to avoid duplication of criteria and ensure that it is in fact restricted.
  • The air quality provisions have been simplified considerably, including the removal of the air quality related overlays, removal of the No2, SO2 and PM2.5 removed, and removal of references to the Auckland Ambient Air Quality Standards.


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.

Russell McVeagh has New Zealand’s longest established and most experienced environmental and resource management practice.

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