Auckland Council has invited local communities and stakeholders to participate in preparation of yet another layer of planning documents for Auckland. 21 Area Plans are to be added to current list of planning documents which includes the Long Term Plan, Annual Plan, Auckland Plan, Unitary Plan and Local Board Plans. Area Plans are not new to the former Auckland City Council area but are now being rolled out Auckland wide.
The exact role the Area Plans are intended to have is still somewhat unclear. The Area Plans have no statutory status and are not required by legislation. Their purpose appears to be to:
- assist with the implementation of the Auckland Plan at a local level;
- provide strategic direction to inform the policies and rules of the Unitary Plan; and
- inform the Long-Term Plan to enable prioritising and budgeting for local projects.
The Hibiscus and Bays and Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board areas will be the first two Area Plans to be developed. Local communities and stakeholders will be invited to participate in the process in July/August this year. The remaining Area Plans will be delivered in a staged sequence over a 4 year programme, from 2012 to 2016. The timing for completion of the Area Plans is somewhat surprising given that they are supposed to provide strategic direction to inform the policies and rules of the Unitary Plan which is due out early next year. The scope of the Area Plans is likely to be extremely broad. The Council has indicated that Area Plans will cover matters such as:
- identifying the timing of development projects and infrastructure needs;
- the size, role and function of town centres;
- key transport routes and improvements;
- recognition of heritage, landscape, landmarks, and natural features; and
- local business and employment opportunities.
If your business has interests in the Auckland region, we recommend you consider becoming involved in the Area Plan process. While the Area Plans have no statutory status, early involvement in the strategic planning process for these areas will be worthwhile if you have strategic land holdings or proposals for development in these areas.