New Zealand: Unitary plan to re-write Auckland's planning landscape

Brief Counsel

The Unitary Plan currently being drafted by Auckland Council will re-write Auckland's planning landscape and guide the implementation of the Council's strategic and long-term direction for the region.

This means that the Plan will have big implications for anyone with exposure to the Auckland property market or infrastructure services.

A draft for informal comment is scheduled for release in March 2013 after which the proposed plan will be publicly notified for submissions in September 2013.

We recommend you get involved at an early stage.


The Unitary Plan (the Plan) will replace the Auckland Region's seven district plans, various regional plans and Auckland Regional Policy Statement. Excluded for now is the Hauraki Gulf Section of the Auckland City District Plan, which is currently in the final stages of being updated. This Section will be incorporated into the Plan at a later stage.

The Council intends the Plan to be simple, bold and innovative, rather than just a revision and amalgamation of the existing plans. The Council aims to improve consistency across Auckland by providing a one-stop shop for Auckland's district and regional planning policies and rules, while still recognising the characteristics of different areas in Auckland.

The Plan will also contain some of the concepts discussed in the Auckland Spatial Plan, for example the extent and location of the Rural-Urban Boundary (the former Metropolitan Urban Limits).


Key innovations in the Plan include:

  • providing greater certainty regarding public notification of resource consents
  • integrating regional and district rules to avoid repetition, and
  • reducing the number of zones across Auckland.

How we use the Plan is going to be very different from the status quo. The Plan will be released online as an "e-plan" (with limited hard copies available). The software will allow users to search for planning restrictions for a particular site or to determine which zones permit certain activities to take place.

The Council also intends to make the Plan more user-friendly by using plain English and including diagrams and illustrations.

A controversial bid for efficiency?

The Council recognises that, given the Plan's scope and size, the appeal provisions in the Resource Management Act (RMA) could absorb significant amounts of time and the resulting planning uncertainty could ham-string Auckland's development.

To avoid this, the Council has asked the Government to provide a new statutory process for the Plan which would:

  • remove the right to appeal to the Environment Court on merits, thereby limiting appeals to errors of law in the High Court
  • remove the normal RMA further (or cross) submission processes, and
  • entrust the hearing of submissions to a hearing panel chaired by an independent chair (e.g. a current or retired High Court or Environment Court judge), and a mix of independent commissioners and councillors. The hearing panel would have the ability to seek specialist advice.

Ms Penny Pirrit (Manager, Regional and Local Planning, Auckland Council) indicated at a recent seminar on the Plan, that the Council may not know the Government's position on the Council's proposed legislative changes ahead of the Plan being publicly notified.

Given this uncertainty, the Council is pressing on with its plans for enhanced engagement pre-notification. This engagement will be led by the local boards and will involve key stakeholders and community workshops. A detailed consultation schedule will be reported back to the Auckland Plan Committee next month.

Chapman Tripp comments

The Council's goal of reducing the amount of time needed to make the Plan operative is commendable and clearly of benefit to Auckland's economic development. We consider, however, that it can be achieved without removing the right to make further submissions.

With respect to appeal rights, we note that the Plan is a substantial piece of work being prepared under tight timeframes, and query whether Auckland Council can "get it right" without rights of appeal.

With so many property rights and competing interests at stake, a robust and fair system is needed. The RMA's existing appeal rights "on the merits" (i.e. de novo):

  • are generally more comfortable for lay people
  • allow many issues to be resolved without the need for appeal, or Court involvement, and without the need for cross-examination, and
  • allow for Court-assisted mediation.

We will be following developments on this front closely. Meanwhile, the possibility that appeal rights may be removed makes early involvement in the Plan even more crucial.

Developers and land owners should also be aware that, as work on the Plan continues, there will be no Council plan changes and no Council-adopted private plan changes (although the option of pursuing private plan changes will remain).

The Plan has the potential to improve certainty and consistency across Auckland by providing a universal set of regional and district policies and rules. We recommend you engage with the Council before the Plan is publicly notified.

The information in this article is for informative purposes only and should not be relied on as legal advice. Please contact Chapman Tripp for advice tailored to your situation.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions