The Draft Unitary Plan and the Long Bay Structure Plan

What is the Unitary Plan?

The Auckland Council has drawn up a draft Unitary Plan to replace Auckland’s fourteen existing district and regional plans. The Unitary Plan, once adopted, will be the key tool to implement the Auckland Plan which sets the strategic direction for Auckland’s growth over the next thirty years.

The Unitary Plan aims to integrate and standardize the rules for the whole of Auckland, and to provide for increased intensity of development as well as greenfields development as Auckland spreads yet further into the surrounding countryside. While these goals are laudable, there are some problems with the implementation.

What is the Long Bay Structure Plan?

The Long Bay Structure Plan is the part of the old North Shore City district plan that outlines the rules of what can and cannot be done in opening up development in the Long Bay area. This is what the Society spent three years in the Environment Court hammering out with the Council and the developer.

The Long Bay Structure Plan is the result of the longest Environment Court case in NZ history. In this lengthy process, the details of the plan were created in consultation between all parties, with the Court deciding contentious issues. The resulting Long Bay Structure Plan is held up as an example of how a structure plan should be (although not necessarily the most desirable process to get there!).

What is the Problem with the Draft Unitary Plan?

We are extremely alarmed that many crucial policies and controls put in place to provide protection for the unique qualities of Long Bay are missing from the draft Unitary Plan. As the draft Unitary Plan stands, many of the significant rules giving protection to the Long Bay and Okura environments are missing, making the Long Bay Structure Plan virtually null and void.

The Long Bay-Okura Great Park Society successfully fought very hard through the Environment Court for three years to establish strong rules to:

  • protect the marine reserve from run-off and other threats,
  • protect the heritage and historic sites in the area,
  • protect the outstanding natural landscapes of the area, and to
  • protect the unique ecologies of Long Bay.

While promotional posters for the Unitary Plan state that overlays or precincts take into account significant Environment Court decisions or existing Structure Plans (including that for Long Bay which is mentioned explicitly), it fails to do this adequately. The Unitary Plan does contain a short Long Bay Precinct Plan, but this section does not properly reflect the outcomes of the Environment Court’s decisions on the Long Bay Structure Plan.

What Next?

Some Council members and staff officers have acknowledged that there is a problem but have stated it is our responsibility to make known to Council the extent of the problem. It is essential that we make known to the Council that we wish to have all the measures of the Long Bay Structure Plan for which we fought so hard are retained in the Unitary Plan.

Because of the way the Unitary Plan is written, it is a complex matter to align the policies of each the Structure Plan and the Unitary Plan. We have sought legal and other expert advice, and are recommending to Council that the whole of the Long Bay Structure be incorporated in the Unitary Plan as an overlay to the Plan. This recommendation was made by the Hibiscus and Bays’ Local Board Area Plan which was recently adopted by the Auckland Council.

The Society will be preparing a detailed submission outlining many of our concerns as feedback requested by the Council. It has also requested to make a presentation to the Auckland Plan Committee in the Auckland Town Hall on 11 June.

How Can You Help?

  • Give Council feedback showing your concern by 5 pm 31 May. You can download the Postal Feedback Form. Print it out, and post it in (postage free).
  • Pass the feedback form on to others to submit.
  • Attend public meetings to express your concern.
  • Come and support our presentation to the Auckland Plan Committee
    10 am, Tuesday 11 June, Auckland Town Hall (yet to be confirmed)
  • Make a donation towards our expenses
    By direct credit to bank account number 123053 0467134 00
    or by posting a cheque to Long Bay-Okura Great Park Society, PO Box 35 348, Browns Bay, Auckland
    (Donations over $10.00 are tax deductible)
  • Contact Chris Bettany, 09 479 4015, if you can help in other ways, such as assisting with our telephone tree, folding newsletters, etc.

Then What?

Giving feedback to the Auckland Council on this draft of the Unitary Plan is just the first step. The Auckland Council will then release the final draft (currently scheduled for September), taking into account feedback given to it. They will then take submissions on the plan, hold hearings, then finalise the plan and bring it into effect.

It will be essential for the Society to participate fully in the next stage of submissions. This is likely to involve experts and lawyers again, and will require your support to ensure that everything we have achieved so far is not lost.