Published 2 December 2009
At least some councillors on the Auckland Regional Council have come to the realisation that their organisation’s role as the region’s environmental policeman will be much diminished when the new Auckland Council unitary authority takes over next October.
That realisation was emphasised yesterday at a meeting of the regional strategy & planning committee, where Cllr Joel Cayford noted the separation of hearings on the new regional transport strategy and the review of the regional policy statement.
The transport strategy is out for consultation, closing on 18 December, but the policy statement won’t go to formal consultation until early next year. It’s a wider-ranging document which resource consents & plan changes approved by the region’s territorial authorities are supposed to conform to.
These include sticking to the metropolitan urban limits, the boundary round urban areas of the region which the regional council monitors closely but territorial authorities frequently have a desire to breach, although they were signatories to it a decade ago.
The regional council had wanted its transport strategy & overarching policy to be linked, but implementation of the transport document had to meet a statutory timeframe whereas the other didn’t, and more consultation on the policy statement was required.
Cllr Cayford, concerned at the separation, said: “Things are happening behind the scenes in transition – those transitional issues about how the region’s going to be planned – and the regional policy statement is very material. It seems to me we need to be on the front foot.”
Committee chairman Paul Walbran said the policy statement draft should be ready for prenotification consultation early in 2010, but then he put that consultation in its new perspective: “The other matter is, the Auckland Transition Agency has a view that the regional policy statement is not something…. We’ve got a difference of view. They don’t see it as significant as we do. They think it’s something that can wait forever.”
Cllr Cayford: “The Auckland Transition Agency is changing institutional arrangements for Auckland. They are empowered, we will be abolished. I think this committee needs to very, very strongly engage with the agency & the Government particularly about what’s happening with Auckland governance bill 3. Otherwise the baton will be dropped. Bill 3 is going to have a profound set of rules for the future direction of this region.”
He suggested a leadership role for the regional council, but Cllr Walbran saw no point in second-guessing the contents of the last of the bills setting up the new governance structure.
Policy & planning general manager Lesley Baddon: “We’ve heard the bill will be going to Parliament on 22 December.”
Cllr Cayford: “Ostensibly everyone in the Auckland Transition Agency has this, and no one here does. I have a very strong feeling we’re being dealt to, and I think it’s inappropriate.”
The debate followed approval of intervention by regional council staff in planning matters conducted by territorial authorities, where the council makes submissions in support of or opposition to consent & plan change applications.
One of those, dealt with as a confidential item in yesterday’s agenda, concerned TR Group Ltd’s application for consent to develop land on Great South Rd, Penrose, in the Anns Creek catchment, for which it requires rezoning. The site is currently a truck yard on the northern side & largely undeveloped wetland on the south, where Anns Creek passes through.
It was highlighted in the report of the 2025 Taskforce led by former Reserve Bank governor & National Party leader Don Brash, with a report disclosing that Andrew Hastings had spent 14 years trying to get the land rezoned before he died in 2004. The regional council has continued to oppose development there, declining TR Group’s application for the earthworks component a month ago although the Auckland City Council, after a joint hearing, agreed to the rezoning.
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Attribution: Council committee meeting & agenda, story written by Bob Dey for the Bob Dey Property Report.