Unitary Plan - Private Plan Changes

By Iain McManus

Auckland Council’s Planning Committee has approved a number of criteria for assessing whether private plan changes to the Unitary Plan should be accepted for consideration by Council. 

You may know from our previous blogs that Auckland Council is working on a number of changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan

What you may not know is that the general public can seek changes to the plan as well (e.g. to rezone their land). Parties external to the Council can do this by way of a "private plan change".

The Council must then decide whether to accept, adopt, or reject (refuse to consider) that request. The Council can also decide to deal with a request as if it were an application for resource consent.

The Council may only reject (refuse to consider) a request on a limited range of grounds. One of those grounds is that the plan has been operative for less than two years. Changes to the Auckland Unitary Plan currently fall into that timeframe so there has been increasing interest over recent months in how the Council might exercise its discretion on this matter.

The Council has previously advised that it will exercise its discretion on a case by case basis. In other words, it will not apply a blanket moratorium on private plan changes within two years of the plan becoming operative.

The Council's Planning Committee has now adopted a set of criteria against which Council will exercise that discretion. In particular, the committee has confirmed that the Council will consider the following matters in deciding whether to accept or reject private plan changes:

  • Whether the outcomes of the private plan change give effect to the Auckland Plan. 
  • Whether the outcomes of the private plan change align with the Council’s Future Urban Land Supply Strategy.
  • Whether the outcomes of the private plan change give effect to the environmental outcomes expected in the Unitary Plan, and improve the effectiveness of the plan.
  • Whether any structure plans and subsequent plan changes have been prepared in accordance with Appendix 1 (Structure Plan Guidelines) of the Unitary Plan.

Council officers will assess whether private plan change requests satisfy these criteria. If they do satisfy the criteria, the request will be put to the Planning Committee for consideration. If they do not, the request will be rejected under officer delegation. Hence, it will be very important that any private plan change requests clearly demonstrate how they align with these criteria. 

Please feel free to contact us if you are contemplating a private plan change for your land.

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