Positions taken up on where the Centres Zones of the Unitary Plan should go
In about three weeks (September 7 to 11) the Unitary Plan Hearings for the Centres and Industrial Zones (otherwise known as the Business Zones) will occur. Council evidence has already been in since July however, the cut off for primary evidence by submitters like myself was due last Friday.
Before I proceed I want to make the following clear.
There is a difference between mediation and the tracked changes documents that come out from there and evidence sent in by Council and submitters. The following came from the Unitary Plan Panel in regards to the Residential Zones:
The purpose of mediation is to try to get agreement or at least narrow down disagreements between the Council and submitters before the respective topic Hearings. Yes you will see mediation tracked change documents on the Unitary Plan Hearings website as this is the fastest way to exchange material with a large number of people. To speculate and base Herald pieces on this is rather daft given that no positions are taken.
Those position taken through evidence sent in by Council (including any rebuttal evidence it might send) and submitters. From there we argue our cases before the Panel itself based on our evidence.
Now for those keeping an eye on the Unitary Plan I applaud you. Remember that Council does have the final say on the Unitary Plan once the recommendations come back. So of course the community concerns will be noted. That said though it would not be entirely wise to do whole scale changes after the recommendations come through. Not unless you want submitters to look at Court challenges after spending three years working their way through it all.
The Centre Zones
So what is going on with the Centres Zones? Quite a bit looking at the primary evidence from Council on the matter. The basic call from submitters was for the Unitary Plan to be more enabling for development especially intensified development in the Centres while Council’s position through primary evidence is still one of being very conservative towards the Centres.
Below is the primary evidence on the Centres Zones. The evidence from Mr Wyatt basically outlines Council’s current position towards the Centre Zones while evidence from Mr Bonis answers points raised by submitters including myself. I have also placed evidence from Mr Mackie in regards to height in the Metropolitan Centres given that this particular issue has become topical of late.
Evidence from Mr Wyatt on behalf of Auckland Council
Evidence from Mr Bonis on behalf of Auckland Council
Evidence from Mr Mackie on behalf of Auckland Council in regard to height limits
Being a submitter and that the Centres were one of the big three topics I submitted on to the Unitary Plan I wrote my own evidence in return for the Centres Zones. The basic thrust of my evidence was to either seek clarification from Council on some contradictory evidence pieces in their own evidence or to provide further information in support of my original submission given that it was written in the beginning of 2014.
One thing that I did pick up on (and hence the warning at the beginning) was change in Council position towards to the Super Metropolitan Centres. If you read the mediation documents the position of Council was opposition to the Super Metropolitan Centres. If you then read the Council evidence the position changes to:
10.9 As I understand the submission, the key point of difference between the proposed zone and the Metropolitan Centre zone is unlimited height in the former. In my view the Metropolitan Centre zone enables significant growth and intensification above existing levels of development and also allows an unlimited scope for commercial activities. If the Panel considers the height limits in the Metropolitan Centre zone too restrictive then this can be amended, without the need for a new zone. I do not consider that a new zone of the type described is necessary at this stage of Auckland’s development.
A neutral position is adopted leaving me to present my case to the Hearings Panel. Of course Council is still due to give Rebuttal evidence against my primary evidence so the position might change again.
The point being though this is not a pure loggerheads game as some might tout it to the media. Compromises do come about.
My primary evidence to the Centres Zones
Again I am waiting on Council rebuttal evidence (if any) which is due by the 28th in case their position changes again prior to the Hearings.
Finally after spending two and half years with another nine months to go on the Unitary Plan it is a game of patience.