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Piha R&R AGM learns about the Unitary Plan

Posted by SC Comments Off on Piha R&R AGM learns about the Unitary Plan
Penny Pirrit with outgoing president, Graeme Webber

Penny Pirrit with outgoing president, Graeme Webber

Last night’s Piha R&R AGM went off fairly smoothly, with first up a presentation from Penny Pirrit of the Auckland Council on the Unitary Plan. Penny is the manager in charge of developing the plan. She is a highly experienced planner with her previous position having been with Auckland City Council.

The Unitary Plan will be a replacement for the 7 district plans, and the regional plans, including the Regional Policy Statement,and the Regional Plan: Coastal. Previously, the Auckland Regional Council set regional policy, which the territorial local authorities or TLAs had to give effect to in their district plans.

The new Auckland Council is both a regional council and a TLA so is combining both.

The Unitary Plan will replace all the district and regional plans once it is made operative. The UP process is trying to develop region-wide policies and rules to replace the very varied policies, objectives and rules that it inherited.

One of the questions Ms Pirrit addressed was how a coastal village like Piha, which is within the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area, will keep its  unique identity and not become homogenised through the process of regionalising district plans.

Waitakere is in a unique position. It is the only land area in Auckland that has a national statement about its values and future. That is the Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area Act. So what’s good for the rest of Auckland, may not be right for the Waitakeres, and having a national statement about it, that needs to have precedence.

Ms Pirrit explained that while there would generic regional rules over the Waitakeres and Piha, there is to be a Waitakere Ranges Heritage Area “overlay” that will trump the generic rules sitting under it. There will also be a specific Waitakere coastal village “overlay” over the Waitakere coastal villages.

Ms Pirrit was asked whether the association could be told of any changes from existing rules, she said that would be too difficult, so it will be up to local communities to do this work for themselves. She encouraged individuals and groups to get involved, attend road shows and open days, and express their views. The draft UP will be out for informal comment in March, with the UP due to be notified in September, or possibly delayed till after the local body elections.

A specific question which was asked was about the rules about real estate signs on street ends instead of inside or in front of properties for sale. Ms Pirrit said that such signs would be controlled by bylaws, rather than district plan rules, in the future. It is intended to harmonise across Auckland, but a process of bylaw development with public participation will need to take place. That will kick off in late 2013 or early 2014.

The election saw a new president, Ken Cowan, who explained that his family were long-term residents of Piha, with he and his wife Marit, building in Rayner Road a few years ago. Graham Gleghorn was elected vice-president, Helen Pearce secretary, and Graham Caley, treasurer. The committee is Graham Carrie, Bobbie Carroll, James Dickinson, Jennifer Hulena, Jan O’Connor, Debalina Rose, and Graeme Webber. Graeme made special mention of Monique Davis, the former very efficient secretary, who has stood down as she is in Holland.

The association reported it had accumulated funds of $35,120 so is financially in good heart.

The major topic of discussion was the library issue, with the association reporting that despite considerable effort, it had failed to achieve negotiations to agree to a sub-lease arrangement with the library trust. This has come up at several of the last AGMs and the meeting passed motions to endorse the R&R committee taking legal steps if necessary to resolve the situation.  Alberto Bonini, a member of the trust, read out a statement from the trust, but this did not helpfully state the trust’s position. The meeting made clear it fully supported the excellent work done in running the library, but it needed to regularise the legal relationships between the entities.

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