Planning Hearings and Commissioners … and Supermarkets

I’ve got a feeling the wheels are going to come off somewhere when people hear the decision on the proposed Pak’nSave supermarket.  I have no idea what the decision is going to be, but I suspect that there will be unhappy locals, whatever the decision is.  Some are looking forward to greater shopping choice, others are concerned about traffic in the area.

The hearing on the proposed Pak’nSave in Southbrook has been held, but the decision is yet to come.  The Countdown proposal for Ivory Street, Rangiora, will take place soon.  Both are being heard by commissioners.

What does this mean?

Where the Resource Management Act requires a hearing on a resource consent, the Council staff have three choices.  They can arrange for a hearing with a panel of councillors (usually 3), a commissioner, or a mixture of commissioner(s) and councillor(s). 

Usually, they go for commisisoners if the matter looks complicated or is high-stakes.  The latter is the case in the supermarket applications.

Some of us councillors have had training in Resource Management matters and it is the Council’s practice to make sure that they are in a majority on a councillor panel.  They are Robbie Brine, Dan Gordon, Elaine Cole, Roger Blair and me.

If the Council is the body wanting the resource consent from itself (!), a commissioner has to hear the case.

Once a commissioner makes a decision, the Council has to accept it.  If the matter is appealed to the Environment Court, the Council is bound to defend the decision – although how vigorously it makes that defence is up to it.  The Council cannot appeal against a commisioner’s decision because it would be tantamount to appealing against its own decision.

There can be a number of Acts, plans, etc that are relevant in a hearing, but the two most important are usually the Resource Managment Act and the Council’s District Plan.

 

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