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Auckland Unitary Plan appeal rejected

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/02/2017 Paul McBeth

The hearings panel that provided the foundation of Auckland's Unitary Plan did not operate outside its jurisdiction, the High Court has found.

Justice Christian Whata on Monday ruled against a group of appeals that claimed the independent hearing panel misinterpreted its statutory duties when it included capacity for more than 400,000 new residential homes to meet the region's projected population growth over the next 30 years in the new Auckland unitary plan.

"In accordance with relevant statutory obligations, the correctly adopted a multi-layered approach to assessing scope," Justice Whata said.

The plan attracted 106 appeals after it was passed and notified by the council last August, of which 39 were filed to the High Court.

The appeals potentially affected 29,000 properties that were rezoned from Single House to Mixed Housing Suburban in the plan, including in Grey Lynn, Parnell, Mt Albert and Blockhouse Bay.

Justice Whata resolved to hold a test case or cases to help resolve the scope and jurisdiction of the hearings panel and to provide a framework for sorting out individual claims.

He ruled on 10 test cases, of which he found two where the independent hearings panel didn't apply the legal framework correctly.

Justice Whata said both of those cases - relating to two specific addresses in Parnell and Takanini - should be referred to the Environment Court.

"The purpose of resolving the test cases was to provide affected appellants with guidance on the issue of scope," the judge said.

"It will be for them to decide whether and to what extent they wish to pursue their appeals in light of my decision."

Auckland Council's legal and risk director Katherine Anderson said the council could not comment because the decision still had implications for others appeals before the court.

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