19 Sep 2016

Unitary Plan up against legal challenges

1:38 pm on 19 September 2016

The Auckland Unitary Plan has been hit by requests for seven judicial reviews and more than 100 appeals.

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The Unitary Plan is expected to make homes more affordable. Photo: 123rf.com

The Auckland Council said it will take several days to gauge how the legal challenges might affect all or parts of the city's blueprint, which is due to take effect next month.

The Unitary Plan is considered to have a key role in making homes more affordable, with more widespread zonings for higher-density housing.

Appeals closed on Friday and the council is processing the paperwork, but said there appeared to be seven bids for a judicial review, 33 appeals on points of law to the High Court, and 67 appeals on more specific rulings, to the Environment Court.

Legal challenges on specific sites will have little impact on the wider plan, but some of the judicial reviews requests or appeals on points of law, have the potential to delay large parts of the Unitary Plan.

One such appeal is by the lobby group Auckland 2040 which argues that errors were made in law, in increasing housing densities in some areas, late in the process.

More specific ones include the Independent Māori Statutory Board, over the rejection of proposed protection for sites of significance and value to Māori, and the right for iwi to be consulted over nearby developments.

Appeals over any part of the Unitary Plan do not necessarily freeze development, but bring in a complicated scenario where both the old and new rules apply.

The council can consider resource consent applications, but has to decide how to balance the weighting given to the old versus the new rules.

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