We won’t be Hide-bound again
Some people might say my mind boggles easily. Well, this is a super boggle. Or, more correctly, a super-city boggle.
The topic: The final supercity unitary plan panel hearings when Aucklanders get a chance to talk over the future in a way and at a depth they missed out on before the super-city stage.
One estimate is that hearings will cost $12 million and will run for 20 months to finalise how Auckland will grow. I couldn’t believe that timeline – that hearings by the eight-person panel, which sat for the first time last week, are likely to go on until around the end of April 2016.
The panel will then present its findings to Auckland Council by July 22, 2016, for the council to consider and notify its decisions within 20 working days – August 19, 2016.
‘‘Boggle’’ is not a word that comes easily to politicians.
Instead, when Environment Minister Amy Adams and Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith announced the eight board members, they described it as ‘‘the largest planning exercise in the history of New Zealand’’ with ‘‘significant implications for Auckland and New Zealand’s environmental and economic performance’’.
I just wish the previous council had taken as much time and effort to see the flaws in the original plan.
It could have argued them instead of being Hide-bound by an ACT dreamer in the Beehive who then walked away, leaving us to it.
The panel chairman Judge David Kirkpatrick has some concerns about time – not too much but perhaps too little.
‘‘We have to consider over 9000 submissions, which raise around 100,000 points concerning possible changes to the plan.
‘‘We also have a limited time to do that and make our recommendations to the Auckland Council.
‘‘It’s a challenging prospect but with careful organisation, sensible procedures and a measure of goodwill from all participants, we believe we can provide Auckland, on time, with our recommendations for a plan that will promote the sustainable management of Auckland’s natural and physical resources.’’
The panel’s website asks the question and answers it almost in same breath: ‘‘Why does it take so long?’’
‘‘The answer: the hearing process has to allow enough time for the panel to hear the submitters and the evidence and to consider all the matters raised before making recommendations on the plan.
‘‘The Unitary Plan brings together the regional policy statement and previous regional plans and district plans, so the hearings cover a wide range of topics that impact on all Aucklanders.’’
What happens if the panel can’t finish the hearings or deliver its report within the time the law allows? They can get more time. Sounds sensible. In the mailbag:
‘‘Auckland city’s ditching of the modern and simple ‘a’ symbol for the fussy, oldfashioned pohutukawa must be one of the strangest decisions ever.
‘‘About as strange as Telecom’s reinvention as Spark, a banal, unimaginative name if there ever was one.
‘‘Interesting that Germany still gets by with Deutsche Telekom.
‘‘However, there is another curious aspect to Telecom’s new identity that became obvious to me earlier this week during a visit to St Lukes Mall, when I stood in the large open space just inside the St Lukes Rd entrance.
‘‘The three mobile service providers all have shops and they are not very far apart.
‘‘Two Degrees and Vodafone jump at you in their bright blue and red liveries respectively but where is Telecom/Spark?
‘‘Look again and concentrate on the detail and you will find it, blending into the surroundings with a very conservative neutral colour scheme and with little evidence that it might be selling telephones.
‘‘An excellent demonstration of camouflage.’’ – Graeme Robb, Mt Albert
Challenging: Unitary plan panel chairman Judge David Kirkpatrick has some concerns about timeframes: ‘‘We have to consider over 9000 submissions, which raise around 100,000 points concerning possible changes to the plan.’’