The Next Steps for the Unitary Plan – Those Workshops

A Series on this Round of the Unitary Plan before it goes to Formal Notification

Part Two: The Workshops


In Part One I gave a look at the summary of the feedback received and what happens next with it. I also gave first mention of the workshops coming up as part of the next phase of the Unitary Plan with particular mention around today’s one on height.

In Part Two I will look at the workshops and what will be going on behind them. But, first a quick mention on the methodology of the workshops. That is why are they behind closed doors away from the public and “media” like myself.


The Workshop Methodology

Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse made it very clear yesterday that some of these workshops with the Auckland Plan Committee members (the Councillors) and the Local Boards (whether it be just the chairs, members or both) will be occur behind closed doors away from the public and media like myself. In saying that the Auckland Plan Committee meetings themselves which will be used as direction setting exercises in guiding the Unitary Plan processes forward from here will be open to the public and media. I will be attending as many of those committee meetings as I possibly can and will be writing up the commentary soon after.

As Penny would say; the rationale behind these closed workshops is to allow “frank and free discussion” on critical bits of the Unitary Plan. In the same regard private property rights and commercial sensitive information is also being discussed in these workshops.

After these workshops however a public statement would be released for our consumption and interpretation. If we (the ratepayer and media) do have questions we can then ask Council. Also I can assume we can consult with our relevant Local Boards as they will act as a bridge between us and the Committee during this phase of the Unitary Plan

If you want my gut reaction to this methodology I am rather split on this. My Gibbs gut reaction (NCIS folks) is telling me ‘I so want to be there and lend what ever expertise and “outlets” (the blog is an outlet) to these workshops on the centres and zones.’ But, at the same time I can also appreciate the Council and Local Boards meeting behind closed doors for those frank discussions, especially when Private Property Rights are involved. That is I would not appreciate my biggest asset – my house having its value cut out from under me because for example my property was to become a park under the UP and finding out in the media first. So I will patiently wait and contribute whatever I can back in the public modes and realm.


The Workshops

As I write this the first workshop between the Auckland Plan Committee and Local Boards (chairs I believe) is happening at Town Hall. Today’s workshop is the first of many and is covering “principles of development in centres, including heights” with Town Centre a major if not critical sticking point (and number one hot button issue). The main focus today being to strike a “balance” in the height debate. Heck that is going to be a tough ask knowing the raw emotions around that debate. Hmm I am wondering if an outsider is is “neutral” should of been “facilitating” that workshop slash debate today (yes that would of meant signing a confidentiality agreement) rather than a Councillor. Yeah okay I am implying a massive hint here Council… HINT HINT 😉

In my submission I did call for Town Centres to be dropped to five storeys and Local Centres to three storeys. In the same regard (and hence my point in Part One) I also moved the centres around the hierarchies and introduced the Special Character Zone for some areas (St Heliers and Mt Eden Village being the two “pilot areas”).

According to the briefing yesterday there will be four further workshops that are looking at (and I quote):

  • Residential Controls
  • Rural Development
  • Retail
  • Parking
  • Signs and signage
  • Water Quality and Quantity
  • Natural Hazards
  • Genetically Modified Organisms
  • and my favourite – the RUB!

Looking at my notes I also see that there are mapping workshops that are most likely to influence direction setting from the main Auckland Plan Committee. Furthermore later down the track I see that there will be further workshops (I am going to be “hating” that word as much as I do with “consultation”) on:

  • The City Centre (oi that should be City Centres (we have two you know – the NZTA signposts say so))
  • Place-based precincts
  • Education precincts
  • The Treaty of Waitangi

And just to workshop us all out there could be more depending on hot button issues that might arise between now and August 😛 So plenty to be discussed and thrashed out over the next three odd months.

After each respective workshop, a report goes back to the next Auckland Plan Committee that will inform and influence direction setting and decision making towards the Unitary Plan and any changes.


 Reference Groups

As I mentioned yesterday three reference groups will be established to work on a range of views, provide clarification and seek further input or consideration. Those three Reference Groups being:

  1. Universal Design
  2. Significant Ecological Areas
  3. Heritage

I will get extra commentary up on those Reference Groups once they are established and their framework essentially set. Basically though these groups will be reporting back to again the Committee to allow the Committee to further set directions with the UP in those regards.


After the Workshops?

Once the Reference Groups and Workshops have all concluded, between August 28 – 30 the Auckland Plan Committee will meet for a final time. A final time in regards to make final decisions, consider and recommend final changes to the UP before a decision is made on when to finally “notify” the plan. Once notified formal submissions and hearing begin.

And that is this post on the workshops.


In Part Three I will be looking at Feedback again and how Council is trying to get on top of it all. In Part Four I will be looking at Zoning Changes and the Southern Rural Urban Boundary. From there it will be dependent on any further briefings or resolutions coming out of workshops or Committee meetings.

Whatever it maybe, Talking Auckland as your lead independent commentator will be there front and centre reporting back on those issues at hand, and running that commentary as I have been since March 16 (the UP being launched)


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