27 Sep 2012

Auckland Council seeks law change to fast-track plan

8:23 am on 27 September 2012

The Auckland Council wants the Government to change the Resource Management Act so it can fast-track new planning rules for the region.

The council wants to remove many rights of appeal, to ensure that legal action doesn't delay implementation of the rules.

Its Unitary Plan blends the plans of eight former councils into one and gives the council the ability to negotiate over projects instead of being tied to rigid detailed rules.

Deputy mayor Penny Hulse says the council wants more influence over the quality of developments, especially higher-density housing.

Ms Hulse says under the plan there would no longer be so many rights of appeal.

"The plan can stay enmeshed in the courts for the next 10 years if we don't change the way that appeals are dealt with and often it's the people with very deep pockets and very expensive lawyers who keep these issues alive."

Ms Hulse says the council hopes to have the plan ready for public consultation by March next year, and if the law were changed, it could take immediate effect once settled.

One planning specialist says the time allowed for public consultation next year may be too short, while a resource management lawyer says Aucklanders need to retain the right to test the plan in court.