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June, 2017

More permissive development rules are expected to be in place for the
Queenstown Lakes district early next year, after the council gave in to
pressure from planning experts.
But the district's new plan will now not be finalised for years, as the
Queenstown Lakes District Council signals hearings on later stages will
continue until late 2019.
The crucial first stage in the council's proposed district plan is coming to
a close. Eleven hearing streams, including key chapters such as rural,
residential, business and landscapes, have already been heard.
Once in place, less onerous rules could encourage new subdivisions and
infill housing that could help ease the district's soaring house prices.
The council's original plan was to make decisions on all stages of the
proposed district plan in 2019, after all hearing commissioners'
recommendations had been received.
In April, however, planning lawyers Warwick Goldsmith and Maree
Baker-Galloway lobbied the council to make decisions on the first stage
They argued the community would be adversely affected by delays and
reminded the council it had initially - and unsuccessfully - applied to
the Environment Court to fast-track new rules for higher-density housing
to tackle the district's housing shortage.
A report to the planning and strategy committee confirms the intended
Report writer Ian Bayliss, the council's planning policy manager, says
stage one recommendations from hearing commissioners are expected
to go to the council in the first quarter of next year and the council is
expected to issue decisions soon after.
Stage one decisions will be made early next year so they have legal
effect, the report says, which means that applications for resource
consent will be considered against both the PDP and the operative
district plan.
The council signals releasing decisions in tranches could unleash a high
pressure and high stakes programme to defend them in court.
Waiting until all hearing commissioner recommendations were in to
make decisions would be a major change in approach, the report said,
leaving the council open to a legal challenge for being unreasonable.
The council appeared to be holding firm on pressure for more to be
spent on consultants to speed up plan review work.
Mr Bayliss' report said more and more review work was being done by
external consultants and the council was keen to work more quickly.
However, the review was highly contested and had a complex
history, he said, which meant progress relied on the finite capacity of
the small in-house policy team.
The council said it was open to the hearings panel making earlier
recommendations on discrete areas of land, as long as large numbers of
submitters were not involved and there was limited risk of triggering
complex appeals.
Notification of the review's second stage is expected to happen in the
third quarter of this year and hearings to be held in the second quarter
of 2018, the report to this Thursday's planning and strategy committee
meeting says.
Hearings for stages three and four are expected to take place in 2019
and recommendations to be made to the council in late 2019 and early
2020 respectively.
Mr Bayliss' report says the whole proposed district plan review will not
be finished until early 2020 - and that is before any Environment Court
The proposed district plan was first notified in August 2015. The council
may have to apply for an extension under the Resource Management Act
to ensure decisions can be made after August of this year.
Delays to the plan have already been caused by the council having to
undertake a detailed and costly study of Wakatipu Basin landscapes,
after the plan hearing panel called its planning evidence not
Source: Otago Daily Times


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