Some light reading ahead
The Auckland Development Committee meets on Wednesday ahead of the Unitary Plan recommendations coming back from the Hearings Panel on Friday. The recommendations go public next week with decisions made by the Councillors in August.
The agenda for this Wednesday is up and can be read here. But the surprising part is highlighted below:
|Auckland Development Committee
20 July 2016
Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan – Background Information relating to the decision-making process, structure of the Independent Hearing Panel recommendation reports and management of public information.
File No.: CP2016/15059
- To provide the Committee with the following information:
- a refresher on the legal framework for decision-making on the Independent Hearing Panel (the Panel) recommendations on the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (PAUP), and the timeline for this;
- an overview of principles relevant to the management of conflicts of interest generally and an outline of assistance available to elected members in relation to PAUP decision-making; the likely structure of the reports received from the Panel containing its recommendations
- management of public information after the receipt of the Panel’s recommendations.
- Since September 2014, the Council has presented its position in response to submissions on the PAUP to the Panel. The hearings were completed on 13 May 2016 and the Panel’s recommendations are due to be received by the Council on 22 July 2016. As outlined in detail in the report presented to the Committee on 13 April 2016, the Council is required to notify its decisions in response to the Panel’s recommendations on 19 August 2016.
- This report provides the Committee with a refresher on the decision-making process and the timeline for this, and an overview of principles relevant to the management of conflicts of interest. It also provides information on the likely structure of the Panel’s recommendation reports that will be received by the Council on 22 July 2016, and the management of public information after the receipt of the recommendation reports.
This report does not contain any recommendations.
Legal framework for decision-making
- Members were previously briefed on the legal framework for decision-making at the 13 April information meeting.
- The Local Government (Auckland Transitional Provisions) Act 2010 (the Act) establishes a unique streamlined process to help deliver the first Auckland Unitary Plan. The Panel established under the Act started hearing submissions in September 2014. The hearings were completed in mid-May 2016. The Panel provided the Council with recommendation reports on most of the designations in the PAUP on 18 May 2016. The Panel is required to release its recommendations on the remaining designations, and the balance of the PAUP, to the Council no later than 22 July 2016.
- The Council has 20 working days to consider the Panel’s recommendations and to notify a decision version of the PAUP, together with its reasons for any recommendation it has rejected. Within this timeframe staff will need to analyse the recommendations, prepare reports for Council’s decision meetings and prepare the notification of the Council’s decision. Based on a 20 working day scenario the Council must release its decision version by 19 August 2016.
- The Act was written to create a process that enabled the PAUP to move from notification to operative at a much faster pace than typically could occur under the Resource Management Act 1991. This includes limiting merits appeals to the Environment Court against the Council’s decisions on the Panel’s recommendations to situations where:
- the Council has accepted a recommendation that is identified by the Panel as beyond the scope of submissions and the person wishing to appeal is “unduly prejudiced” by the Council’s decision; or
- the Council has rejected a recommendation from the Panel.
- Such appeals must be lodged with the Court and served on the Council within 20 working days after notification of the Council’s decisions.
- Separate provision is made in relation to appeals to the Environment Court concerning designations / heritage orders, with such appeals having to be lodged and served within 30 working days after the Council gives notice of the decision on the designation / heritage order.
- Appeals on questions of law can be made to the High Court by submitters within 20 working days.
- The right to seek judicial review of decisions is preserved by the Act, however any available right of appeal to the Environment Court must be exercised first.
- Section 148 of the Local Government (Auckland Transitional Provisions) Act 2010 (Attachment A) specifies Auckland Council’s obligations once it receives the recommendations from the Panel.
- The Council is required to release its decisions on the PAUP and set out the recommendations it has accepted and rejected. If a Panel recommendation is rejected, the Council must provide reasons as well as an alternative solution (i.e. alternative provision(s)) it supports. The alternative solution / provisions must be within scope of submissions and must be based on material that was presented to the Panel at the hearings. The Council also has the ability to accept a recommendation but alter the relevant PAUP provision in a way that has a minor effect or to correct a minor error.
- The Council is required to prepare a Section 32AA cost benefit analysis report (under the Resource Management Act) for any alternative provisions to the Panel’s recommended version of the PAUP, unless a Section 32 report or Section 32AA report has been already prepared as part of the PAUP and / or Council’s case team evidence.
- Section 151 of the Local Government (Auckland Transitional Provisions) Act 2010 sets out the process for designations / heritage orders of requiring authorities other than the Council. In short, Council decisions on Panel recommendations relating to non-Council designations / heritage orders are treated as if they were recommendations to requiring authorities notified under clause 9(1) of Schedule 1 to the RMA. Requiring authorities must notify the Council of their decisions on the recommendations within 30 working days. The Council then has 15 working days to give notice of those decisions.
Managing conflicts relating to PAUP decision-making
- At the meeting, there will be an opportunity to discuss the management of financial and non-financial conflicts of interest generally and an outline of assistance available to elected members to answer any questions that they may have on the management of relevant interests following receipt of the Panel’s recommendations. As an introduction to that discussion, refer to Attachment B for an excerpt from the Office of the Auditor-General report “Ashburton District Council: Allegations of conflicts of interest affecting decisions on a second bridge: Appendix – Types of interests and the risks they create in local government” (October 2014). Attachment C sets out relevant provisions from the Standing Orders and Auckland Council Code of Conduct: Elected Members.
Description of the Panel’s Deliverables
- It is understood that the recommendation reports from the Panel are likely to be in two parts:
Part 1. The Reports – an overview report and a report on each hearing topic. The individual hearing topics include a summary of the recommended changes to the plan for that topic. It is understood this document will be approximately 1000 pages in length.
Part 2. The Recommended Plan – It is understood that this will comprise a clean version of the Panel’s recommended text of the Unitary Plan and a clean version of the Panel’s recommended maps created in the Panel’s GIS viewer.
The Management of Public Information After the Receipt of the Recommendation Reports
- Following the public release of the panel’s recommendations a public information campaign will begin to ensure the public have factual information about the recommendations and to explain the process for council’s decision-making in August.
- Communications will include media and stakeholder briefings, summaries of the panel’s recommendations, internal communications for staff, social media updates, and paid advertising to direct the public to the recommendations on the council website.
|AView||Attachment A – Section 148 of the Local Government (Auckland Transitional Provisions) Act 2010||13|
|BView||Attachment B – Excert from the Office of the Auditor-General report||15|
|CView||Attachment C – Relevant provisions from the Standing Orders and Auckland Council Code of Conduct Elected Members||17|
Source: Auckland Council
1000 pages of recommendations across the topics with some only having two pages of recommendations and others 20+ pages. Whatever the case might be there is going to be some rather long nights ahead looking at the recommendations and the new maps from the Panel.
However, and ultimately the decisions fall to the Governing Body next month with appeals by submitters also very likely as well.
The business end of the Unitary Plan is now before us.