Four councils to develop joint district plan
The Local Government Commission has today released a draft proposal for a combined West Coast district plan and is calling for submissions on it.
The proposal would see the formation of a joint committee comprising members of the Buller, Grey and Westland district councils, the West Coast Regional Council and iwi, to be responsible for preparing and approving a new combined district plan.
Lead Commissioner for the West Coast reorganisation process Janie Annear said the Commission was pleased it had been able to propose an option that kept the four councils as they now exist in place, yet offered a mechanism by which they could work together on a combined plan.
“The expert advice suggested that combining the four councils into a single unitary authority responsible for district and regional council functions across the whole of the Coast had the potential for the most economic gain.
“However, we have spent a lot of time in the region, worked closely with local government leaders and understand the special nature and distinct identities of the three districts,’’ Mrs Annear said.
“Community opinion and our own investigations suggest that some form of local government change is necessary, but we have yet to be convinced that a single council would provide satisfactory democratic and decision-making arrangements for the region.’’
Instead the change proposed is the transfer of the obligation under the Resource Management Act to prepare a district plan, in this case from the three district councils to the regional council.
Mrs Annear was at pains to point out that the transfer is essentially a legal mechanism by which a joint committee of all four councils and iwi can be created and given delegated powers, allowing all parties to work together.
“It is the joint committee that will oversee the preparation of the plan, not the regional council,’’ said Mrs Annear. “This will ensure that all sectors of the West Coast have input into it, that it will identify common objectives, create consistent regional rules, yet take into account the potential for local variations as required.’’
If the draft proposal were to progress to a final proposal, the transfer would:
- keep in place the three district councils and the West Coast Regional Council, as currently constituted, operating as they do now in respect of all their other functions and responsibilities
- result in one set of district planning rules for the West Coast by bringing together the current separate Buller, Grey and Westland district plans
- recognise the distinct character of different areas by allowing for local variations in the combined plan
- result in the district councils continuing to be responsible for administering the new plan once it was adopted.
Mrs Annear said there were a number of benefits to all parties on the West Coast of a joint approach to district planning.
“These are set out in detail in the Draft Proposal document but include facilitating improved economic performance on the West Coast through simplified planning processes with an accompanying reduction in compliance costs over the long term.
“At present this is a draft proposal and the Commission is keen to receive submissions from interested parties on any changes or variations they might suggest.’’
What happens now?
Copies of the draft proposal are being distributed to letter boxes across the West Coast on 10/11 April. It will also be available at West Coast council offices and at libraries in the region; or it can be viewed at the Local Government Comission's website page.
Submissions are invited, with a deadline of 4pm, 25 May 2018. An online submission can be made via the Commission’s website, or written submissions can be made in a format of the submitter’s choice. (Once received by the Commission, these are considered public documents and may be published or released, minus any personal information such as addresses and contact numbers.)
Send submissions to:
Post: Local Government Commission, PO Box 5362, Wellington 6140
The Commission will hold public submission hearings on the West Coast on 30 and 31 May. It is not necessary to appear in person for submissions to be given full consideration by the Commission. Those wishing to appear in person can book online for a time slot that suits them by going to:
localgovernmentcommission.gettimely.com/book or by ringing the Commission at 0800 816 400.
After considering submissions, the Commission will consider whether or not to proceed to a final proposal for a combined West Coast district plan.
Simon Cunliffe | Local Government Commission | Department of Internal Affairs Te Tari Taiwhenua
DDI +64 4 474 8164 | MOB +64 27 809 3833 | email@example.com