RMLA Regional News – June 2016

Auckland – Francelle Lupis / Sharon Dines

At the end of April, Jenny Simpson and Jason Pene from Tonkin & Taylor “Cleared the Air” with an excellent presentation on air quality for non-technical professionals held at Chapman Tripp.

In May we were honoured to have Judge Kirkpatrick, the Chairman of the Independent Hearing Panel for the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan, give a presentation at Russell McVeagh under Chatham House Rules on the Herculean task of bringing the Unitary Plan together at the end of an intensive three year process. More than 150 people attended the event – a testament to the high esteem the RMLA community in Auckland has for Judge Kirkpatrick and the way in which he and the panel have conducted the hearing process.

Since then, a number of Auckland members have been reclaiming their evenings and weekends following the completion of the hearings phase of the Unitary Plan process. We await with interest the release of the Panel’s recommendations on July 22.

Looking forward, we have an event-packed winter with Justice Matthew Palmer exploring the RMA as public law in June and Rachel de Lambert giving the highly anticipated Salmon Lecture in July titled “Auckland’s Urban Form – Quality Compact?”  You can register for these events now at www.rmla.org.nz/events

Looking forward, we have an event-packed winter with Justice Matthew Palmer exploring the RMA as public law in June and Rachel de Lambert giving the highly anticipated Salmon Lecture in July titled “Auckland’s Urban Form – Quality Compact?”  You can register for these events now at www.rmla.org.nz/events

Wellington – Nicky McIndoe and Maia Wikaira

The Wellington branch has settled into a steady pace for the year, aiming to host a seminar for members every 6 weeks or so.  In April the branch hosted the natural hazards national roadshow, which was a thought-provoking seminar for a City balanced on a faultline.

Our next event brings together the planning, engineering and legal specialists who recently worked on consents required to upgrade the Waitangi Wharf on Chatham Islands.  The seminar Beer and Blue Cod: Adaptive Management at the Edge of NZ (Chatham Islands) will be hosted by DLA Piper on 16 June 2016.  I’m looking forward to finding out whether the title is a reference to cargo unloaded on the wharf, or some of the benefits for those who work on the Chatham Islands.

Nelson/Marlborough – Antoinette Besier

The branch at Te Tau Ihu (Nelson-Marlborough) have recently experienced the loss of Dave Petrie.  Dave passed away on 15 May.  Dave was a member of the local committee and also on the committee for the organisation of  the September conference.  Dave’s passing was a great shock to us all and we will miss him very much.  Many local members of the RMLA attended his funeral on 20 May where he was given a lovely farewell.

On 29 April the branch held their first bi-monthly lunch time seminar.  Dr Michael Steven presented the seminar which generated good debate.  The topic was ‘Seeing the forest and the trees:  towards a robust method for the assessment of natural character, particularly in coastal environments.’  The next seminar will be held on 1 July and the presenter will be Dennis Bush-King with the intriguing title ‘Bending the Law’.

The branch also hosted the natural hazards road show and this forum also generated plenty of discussion, particularly on the subject of coastal hazard management given the current issues presenting at many coastlines in the area.

Many members are busy working on the conference for September and we are really pleased with how this is shaping up.  We think it will live up to its theme!

Queenstown/Central Otago – Jenny Carter

The Queenstown Branch members continue to be kept busy with the District Plan Review, with hearings on the rural section of the Plan completed at the end of May, and the hearings schedule continuing into 2017. We are also awaiting the decisions on the Otago Regional Policy Statement, due to be notified in September this year.

Queenstown continues to face high growth, with continued growth in tourism placing pressure on the visitor accommodation industry and Queenstown’s infrastructure.  According to the publication ‘ Inside Tourism’ ‘ Queenstown faces the most acute hotel room shortage (in New Zealand) due to high land and development costs. There are announcements and plans for up to 650 new rooms and eight new hotels, but only three smaller hotels totalling 172 rooms are under construction. Of the eight hotels, three are in the town centre and five outside. Being built are the 69-room 5-star QT hotel next to Rydges, 54- room boutique hotel in the town centre and 59-room Ramada at Remarkable Park opening June 2016 (with a 81-room Wyndham hotel nearby announced last week.’

Queenstown also continues to face high residential growth, with median house prices increasing nearly 20% since 2014 . As a signatory to the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act 2013, the Queenstown Lakes District Council continues to consider applications for Special Housing Areas, and has recently resolved to recommend to the Minister of Building and Housing the Queenstown Country Club Special Housing Area, which is a retirement village located within the Rural Zone.   There are currently four SHAs being considered by the Minister and a decision on these is due mid to late June.  If these are all approved (including the Queenstown Country Club SHA) the Wakatipu Basin will have seven SHA’s, with only one to have gone through the resource consent process at this point.

The Environment Court issued its final decision through consent order on Plan Change 50. This adds a further 15ha of land to Queenstown’s Town Centre Zone, enabling higher density visitor accommodation and residential development, a conference centre and additional commercial development.  Key issues resolved through the consent order process were traffic management, with future development requiring ITA’s, greater support for high density residential development and greater control on the level of commercial activity that could occur.

After many years of planning and significant investment in lighting and safety approvals the Queenstown Airport is providing night flights. This provides greater flexibility for both tourists and workers to travel to and from Queenstown within one day.  This is great news for RMLA members, with day trips to Queenstown now easier to achieve (although with ski season starting this weekend, most people will want to stay longer than a day!)