What is a Plan Change?
A plan change is a change to a District Plan, which is a public process requiring research, evaluation and consultation. A plan change can be initiated by us or by members of the public (private plan change). Examples of possible plan changes include:
- Rezoning of land.
- Addition of a building to the schedule of heritage buildings.
- Amendments to rules.
What is the Plan Change process?
The RMA outlines the plan change process that we are required to follow. Consultation and community involvement, including pre-consultation, notification, submission and hearing processes, are important steps in the plan change process.
- Initial issue identification and pre-consultation process.
- Plan change drafting (eg preparing proposed rules, objectives and policies) and assessment of the proposal (s32 evaluation report).
- Plan change approved by the Council for public notification.
- Plan change publicly notified for submissions.
- Submissions summarised.
- Summary of submissions publicly notified for further submissions (cross submissions).
- Public notification of summary of submissions for further submissions (10 working days).
- Submissions and further submissions analysed. In some cases further technical information may be needed. Preparation of s42a report (recommendations on the submissions).
- Public notification of decisions.
Once decisions are notified, any party who made a submission has the opportunity to appeal all or part of the decision to the Environment Court.
What is a Hearing?
Plan Changes are heard by a Hearings Panel. The role of the Hearings Panel is to make a decision on the proposed plan change, including making decisions on points raised in submissions. Members of the Hearings Panel must be accredited Hearings Commissioners and can include Elected Members of the Council as well as independent commissioners. Often Plan Change Hearings Panels will include both.
Anyone can attend a hearing, but only some people can speak. The following people can speak at a Plan Change hearing:
- the applicant (if relevant) and anyone presenting evidence on their behalf
- submitters who have requested to be heard and anyone presenting evidence on their behalf
- the Planner on behalf of the Council
- any other experts presenting evidence on behalf of the council who had a report circulated before the hearing
- any committee member or commissioner(s).
You can find further information about the hearings process on the Ministry for the Environment website.