Judge confirms error in district plan and supports CCRU in bid for swift action in correction
A letter released today by City Councillor David East, from independent panel chairperson The Honourable Sir John Hansen, KNZM, has highlighted that an important clause enabling the correct application of the RUO was omitted from the district plan in its final draft. (link to letter at end of article)
The CCC Strategic and Policy Division have openly admitted that they knowingly removed the clause as they did not support a more permissive building pathway.
Judge Hansen’s letter follows the process the Independent hearing panel undertook after considering all the evidence presented to them at the time of the hearings.
The panel stated that they believed the CCC proposed HFHMA policy would impose significant constraints on building and would negatively affect the community. The panel stated that the CCC's revised version was too onerous, that caution is needed when applying the CRPS (Canterbury Regional Policy Statement) policy regarding high hazard areas, especially when there are varying degrees of risk to life including no material risk, that risk to life in these area from sea level rise (SLR) over the next 100 years was minimal.
The CCC was called upon to provide a drafting service purely to write an alternative policy as instructed by the panel. The draft policy was delivered but in the final CCC submission a critical clause was omitted. This clause has allowed the “CCC to take a course that has denied landowners within the RUO the relief clearly granted by the IHP”, said Judge Hansen. Judge Hansen also raises concerns around CCC knowing of the omission but not bringing it to the panel's attention, stating, if it had been noted the panel would have certainly added the clause back in.
CCRU has long maintained the removal of the enabling clause in the final submission was an act that sought to derail a legally independent process. We have consistently asked the CCC to provide us with information on who gave the instruction to remove this clause from the final submission and when was this done. We have not received a response.
With the support of the local community boards and councillor David East, CCRU has approached both regenerate and the local MP's to ask that the district plan be swiftly corrected through the use of Section 71 of the Regeneration Act that will allow the minister to make corrections to the plan.
It must be acknowledged that the incorrect application of the RUO policy by the CCC has caused enormous stress to the community both financially and emotionally. Some gave up and built elsewhere, some built less due to the consent cost, some moved rather than face the gauntlet of CCC for an extension.
Given the letter from Judge Hansen indicating that the omission of the clause is an obvious oversight, it should therefore be corrected. The recent RMA hearing outcome regarding the CCC interpretation of the same RUO stated, “in our view the application of a strict avoidance would result in an absurdity that would move perilously close to a prohibition “.
It is CCRU’s view that the Section 71 process should be undertaken immediately to correct this mistake and apologies be given to the affected communities.
CCRU approached the CCC, Regenerate, MP's, David East and other Community Boards in June 2018 and invited them to partner with CCRU in its application to the minister on this matter.
Despite the revelations in this letter, CCRU will continue its commitment to work collaboratively with all agencies and support the vital process of community engagement on important coastal issues.
The CCRU response to the letter from Sir John Hansen,
CCRU have always felt that the omission of the policy that enabled building in the Residential Unit Overlay from the district plan was an oversight and this letter confirms that. The CCC position has been that the plan is as the panel intended.
CCRU is committed to getting this corrected and think the use of Section 71 is the appropriate mechanism. This approach now also has the support of Judge Hansen.
CCRU have been working with local MP's, Councillors, Community Boards and Regenerate to get this corrected and want to thank them for their support to date. We would also welcome support from CCC.
Going forward, CCRU are committed to the community engagement which is part of the consensual adaptation process, but recognise this situation is an impediment to that process, hence needs to be resolved.
CCRU endorse the call for an independent enquiry into how and why this clause was removed and how it escaped the notice of the panel.
CCRU Deputy Chair
Warwick Schaffer - 021 372 943