What’s Happening in Waikato
Many local authorities around the Waikato are currently undertaking plan reviews. The Proposed Hamilton City District Plan and the Proposed Waipa District Plan received 45 and 28 appeals respectively to the Environment Court. Hearings have begun for the Thames Coromandel District Plan review and are expected to be completed by the April 2015. The Waikato Policy Statement is also under review, with 37 appeals lodged with the Environment Court against the decisions.
The Ruakura Private Plan Change application lodged by Tainui Holdings and Chedworth Properties Ltd with the Environmental Protection Agency was approved on the 9th September 2014 by an independent Board of Inquiry. This decision will pave the way for the development of an inland port, commercial hub and residential area on the eastern fringes of Hamilton.
The Cambridge Section of the Waikato Expressway continues to take shape, while the Hamilton Section remains in the planning and design phase. Hearings were held for the Southern Links Network Transportation Corridor, with the independent commissioners delivering their decisions in October. Decisions and recommendations have been issued to future-proof the $600m Southern Links transport network south of Hamilton. Four independent commissioners released their recommendations following a hearing earlier this year, and have recommended that the designations be confirmed. They have also approved the resource consent applications for three new bridges, two over the Waikato River and another bridge across the Mangakotukutuku Gully. The recommendations are subject to extensive conditions and come with a lapse period of 20 years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fFHfSsVTWSM&feature=youtu.be
The Waikato River Authority are also evaluating proposals seeking funding for initiatives to help restore or protect the Waikato and Waipa Rivers. 52 applications requesting a funding total of $17.2 million were received with 57 million available, indicating a strong desire from Waikato communities to clean up Waikato waterways.
How about Auckland
Hearings for the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan, known as the 'PAUP' commenced in October. By the end of this year, the Panel would have heard a range of general matters; Issues; and the Regional Policy Statement objectives and policies. Pre-hearing meetings commence again on 13 January 2015.
The timetable is extremely tight and the resource commitment extensive for many planners across the Auckland region. This will have flow on effects with a shortage of planners available for other work in the Auckland region. Consultants in particular are most affected and this will have implications on the availability to prepare resource consent applications and other planning work.
Despite these concerns, the panel are doing excellent work keeping the web-site up to date and managing the almost impossible. Aside from the complexities of a unitary plan, there are over 9,000 submissions and nearly 4,000 further submitters. If this is broken into specific submission points, there are over 1,500,000 decisions sought.