Opinion by Grant Gillon
Rushed and detrimental decisions could be the result of Auckland Council’s planned reduction in public consultation over the Unitary Plan.
The Auckland Council is seeking a change to the Auckland legislation that would effectively exempt it from parts of the Resource Management Act, and appeals would only be allowed on points of law.
If the council wins its argument with central government then the unitary plan would come into effect in the second half of next year.
The main argument appears to be that we don’t need to consult because the legacy district plans have been litigated to death. But this is a different plan promoted by the new Auckland Council that would allow for dramatic intensification of our communities.
The real problem for me is that local boards are already attending workshops on the draft Unitary Plan. The officers take notes of members’ views and use those to shape their planning. However, workshops exclude the public and so the community has no idea what its elected members are (in effect) deciding about the future of our neighbourhoods.
As a result any future public consultation will be focused on new plans that have already been confirmed behind closed doors.
What I have seen to date is very concerning, even frightening. We have been told that the briefings, and the associated very detailed maps, are confidential and we cannot discuss them with the community, and yet these discussions will have dramatic, perhaps detrimental, effects on our communities for generations to come.
I am very nervous about the real reasons for the rushed time-frames, closed doors discussions and lack of true consultation.
Auckland Council should shelve its ill-thought plans to limit Resource Management Act applications and embark on serious and meaningful consultation with our communities.
Dr. Grant Gillon is a member of the Kaipatiki Local Board