Environment Canterbury requests adjournment to urban planning hearings for Greater Christchurch
The Christchurch earthquakes and the precedence of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery (CER) Act has led to a request to adjourn hearings on appeals to Change 1 of the Regional Policy Statement.
This is to enable resources to be focused on the earthquake recovery process and to ensure that Change 1 integrates with the future recovery strategy and recovery plans of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority. The hearing of appeals for Change 1 had originally been scheduled to take at least four weeks, beginning on June 7.
Change 1 to the Regional Policy Statement provides the basis for plans under the Urban Development Strategy to manage urban growth in the Greater Christchurch* area over the next 30 years. Change 1 identifies Greenfield areas for development which can be supported by co-ordinated delivery of infrastructure, including roading.
At a pre-hearing conference for the appeals on Change 1 that took place on March 31, the Environment Court asked for a report concerning the implications of the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011 for Change 1 to the Regional Policy Statement and other RMA related documents. The CER Act was passed on April 19, 2011 and Environment Canterbury submitted the report to the Court on May 11.
The first round of hearings were to begin June 7 and last a month. Instead, with support from the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy (UDS) partners, including the Christchurch City, Selwyn and Waimakariri district councils, Environment Canterbury has requested an adjournment.
Environment Canterbury commissioner Peter Skelton says that an adjournment would allow the strategies and plans concerning urban planning and sites for rebuilding to be prepared under the overarching Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act, rather than continuing to run the Change 1 process in parallel.
“We live in extraordinary times following the Canterbury earthquakes and this is simply a pragmatic approach to ensure the best use of the resources of all parties concerned. Although ‘adjournment’ might imply a delay, it will actually save time in the long run.”
Under the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act 2011, an earthquake recovery strategy and a recovery plan for the Christchurch CBD must be developed by January 19, 2012. Other recovery plans may be developed at any time on the direction of the Minister for Earthquake Recovery. The strategy and plans will be incorporated into the Regional Policy Statement and other regional and district plans and strategies and would override the provisions they make.
*In terms of the CER Act Greater Christchurch includes Christchurch City and Selwyn and Waimakariri districts.