Source: Auckland Council
Auckland Council’s Planning Committee has resolved to withdraw proposed Plan Change 26 to the Auckland Unitary Plan Operative in part (Auckland Unitary Plan).
The withdrawal follows a public consultation and a hearing, and decision, by Independent Commissioners.
Planning Committee Chair, Councillor Chris Darby comments:
“The process to find a sensible workable solution, to an extremely complex planning provision, has not been easy. We are now confident we have reached a position that will continue to preserve our special character areas through the Special Character Overlay.”
Following external legal guidance, between 1 December 2016 and 19 December 2017, Auckland Council did not consider the underlying Single House Zone rules when determining the resource consent for properties in Special Character Overlay areas.
To clarify the rules and standards, the council then sought a declaration from the Environment Court on the correct interpretation to provide certainty for property owners, developers and planning professionals. The Environment Court disagreed and ruled that Special Character Areas Overlay rules and standards, and the underlying zoning rules and standards, should be considered equally. Following the ruling, the council immediately changed its practice.
Plan Change 26
Initiated by the council, Plan Change 26, was designed to clarify the relationship between the Special Character Areas Overlay and the underlying zone provisions. However, the council now considers that Plan Change 26 does not achieve better environmental outcomes for special character values than those that are being achieved by the process that has been in place since December 2017.
As a result, the council has withdrawn Plan Change 26.
Councillor Darby continues:
“By definition, planning rules are technical and layered and used by those who design and build houses. Reaching this decision has not been easy but it is reassuring that the resource consenting practice for Special Character Areas, used by council since December 2017, has been judged to be correct with both the Special Character Overlay and the underlying Single House Zone rules and standards are considered in unison.”
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 four Environment Court appeals were lodged against that decision.