9 August 2018
Central Otago District Council this week resolved to put the Central Otago District Plan Review on hold while new national legislation is developed.
Prompted by indications from Central Government that fundamental changes to how District Plans are drafted are imminent, Council agreed at its meeting on 8 August that it would be sensible to delay the review until the NPS are gazetted and the direction of the National Policy Statement on Biodiversity is understood.
Councils are required to review their district plan every 10 years. Council's current district plan was made operative in 2008 making the review date 2018. CODC's review commenced ahead of time in 2013 and the aim was to have a consultative draft released for further community engagement later this year. However, a number of national instruments and Resource Management Act amendments enacted since have affected how the review proceeds.
Most significant are the National Planning Standards (NPS), which will provide a template for district plans and must be complied with by 2024. The development of a National Policy Statement on Biodiversity will also direct how the Council addresses biodiversity in the Plan.
If the Council proceeded with the review as intended, significant amendments to the document would be required by 2024 to comply with the NPS, and provisions relating to biodiversity may have to be reviewed for compliance.
This would effectively mean a rewrite of significant parts of the document, additional community engagement and a duplication of costs.
"Council realises the high level of interest in the District Plan review and how we respond to the challenges and opportunities of the significant growth we are experiencing in parts of our district," said Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan.
"We will still deliver on those outcomes the community wants. This decision to amend the timing, put simply means we are taking a different approach while we wait on a national 'template' to be confirmed. We want to do it once and do it right."
Council agreed that it would initiate changes to the Operative Central Otago District Plan as necessary to appropriately accommodate growth in the district and future needs of the community. This would include Council-initiated plan changes, such as those resulting from the "Eye to the Future" Cromwell MasterPlan programme's spatial framework. The community would have the opportunity to contribute to any proposed changes.
"In some regards, this could be a blessing in disguise," said Mr Cadogan. "Prior to this development, initiating Council-led Plan Changes made little sense given the whole Plan was being reviewed. The pause to that review caused by Wellington means that the potentially quicker option of Council-led Plan Changes as required now makes sense and growth-related matters in specific parts of Central, which should be addressed as a matter of priority, may be dealt with quicker and more efficiently than waiting on the full Plan review."
More information can be found in the report that went to Council (see page 70 onwards).