Local Government (Auckland Council) Act

The Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009 establishes the Auckland Council as a unitary authority for Auckland. It sets out various matters including the Council’s structure, functions, duties and powers and the arrangement of the management of Auckland’s transport, water supply and wastewater services, and requires Auckland Council to prepare and adopt a spatial plan (“the Auckland Plan”).

Auckland (Credit: Raewyn Peart)

The Local Government (Auckland Transitional Provisions) Act 2010 provides transitional arrangements for the amalgamation of the previous local authorities into Auckland Council. Part 4 of the Act provides a process for the development of the first combined planning document for Auckland Council under the RMA (“the Unitary Plan”). The process for the development of the Unitary Plan differs from the normal plan making process under the RMA. It is effectively a combination of the Council and Environment Court stages:

1. Auckland Council prepares the Unitary Plan, which includes a regional policy statement, a regional plan and a district plan

2. Auckland Council prepares an evaluation report and it is audited by the Ministry for the Environment.

3. The Unitary Plan and evaluation report are publicly notified.

4. Members of the public make submissions.

5. Auckland Council prepares a summary of submissions.

6.  Certain persons make further submissions.

7. The Hearings Panel holds a hearing. This may involve pre-hearing sessions meetings, mediation, and/or expert conferencing. Every person who has made a submission may speak and call evidence. Cross-examination may be permitted by the Hearings Panel.

8. The Hearings Panel makes recommendations to Auckland Council. The recommendations are not limited to the scope of submissions. The recommendations must be provided no later than 50 working days before the expiry of 3 years from the date on which Council notified the proposed plan, unless an extension is granted by the Minister for the Environment.

9. Auckland Council decides whether to accept or reject each recommendation of the Hearings Panel. The decision must be publicly notified no later than 20 working days after receiving the Hearings Panel recommendations, unless an extension is granted by the Minister for the Environment.

10. A right of appeal to the Environment Court is available in relation to a recommendation of the Hearing Panel which the Council rejected. In respect of other matters, a right of appeal is available to the High Court on a question of law only.

* The proposed plan may not be varied after public notification, except in the case of specific exceptions (Hearings Panel is satisfied that the variation is required to give effect to a provision in the NZCPS, a NPS, or the RPS, or to correct a substantial error).

Last updated at 11:19AM on March 6, 2015