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Saturday, 1 September 2007

A BAD DISTRICT PLAN MEANS A BAD DISTRICT

District Plans are meant to fill in the details in the Resource Management Act for the district they apply to. They should be made by the people, because they live there, not the planning-bureaucrats. When the bureaucrats do it, we get the sort of result we are seeing on Waiheke.

Recently in Marketplace Gordon Hodson was reported as wanting to dump the new Plan being put forward by Auckland City. He's right. It should be. It's badly conceived, badly written, too long, too complicated, and in essence ignores the very existence of the Resource Management Act.

The RMA, as it makes crystal clear, and as the courts have underlined again and again and again to blind and deaf planners, is effects-based. It is interested only in the effect of a proposal on New Zealand‘s environment. But the bureaucrats want to make things prescriptive. They want to lay down rules in minute detail. They want hard measurements that they can tick off.

They don‘t want to have to decide on what the RMA demands of them, such as in section 7 (aa), (c) and (f) where it says they must have 'particular regard' to 'the ethic of stewardship', 'the maintenance and enhancement of amenity values‘ (amenity means pleasantness), and 'the maintenance and enhancement of the quality of the environment', etc.

I once taxed the Team Leader at the Council Service Centre with that one about amenity. He told me it was too hard. That is an admission of incompetence. If you say that deciding what is pleasant is too hard you are saying you cannot do the job. You should get another one. Sweeping the streets, perhaps.

Small wonder that the pleasantness of the island is being trashing by bad consent rulings.

The District Plan does not have to be lengthy or have a zillion sections or land-units. Once the effects of 7(aa), (c), (f) etc., in the RMA have been fulfilled there is little or nothing left to consider. A few simple pages would cover the whole island. Then each consent application would be considered on its effect on the environment, as the RMA intended. KISS KID. Keep It Simple Stupid, Keep It Direct.

Why have the bureacrats made the District Plan so complicated? The answer is obvious. To keep themselves employed for ever, by making themselves necessary.

I expect Gordon could write a Plan that could outdo the lot of them--and probably make them all surplus to requirements. Oh dear! That sounds suspiciously like democracy--that little-known system of government in which the people decide. We can't have that, can we?