JHF Submission to COJ Planning Bylaw Review 2023

Dear Mr. Khan


I apologise for the late submission which arose from our not having a Board meeting within the time frame laid down. These comments come not only from our Board, but we feel sure will be echoed by our affiliated organisations, a list of whom is attached. .

We note that the current Bylaw Review proposals are limited, and that they have FAILED to respond to the earlier comments requested from the public (including ours dated 26 July 2021).

Our previous comments suggested improvements to the Bylaws, primarily aimed at ensuring that “heritage resources” are defined and that they are included in the information requirements for applications, and secondly that the current composition of the Tribunals is made SPLUMA compliant, by the inclusion of non-municipal employee members.

In summary we propose the following:

  • That the definition of heritage resources in the Land Use Scheme can readily be incorporated into the Chapter 1 definitions.
  • We request an addition to the S5 provisions and principles in the form of a new S5(4) stating that “ Any land development application in terms of this Bylaw must address environmental considerations, infrastructural availability, and heritage status.” The current S5(4)  can be renumbered S5(5). We note that this has partly been addressed by the proposed new requirements for environmental inputs, but heritage and infrastructure have been omitted. The heritage resources information should also be reflected in the Schedule 1 information requirements for consents and rezonings, as has been proposed in the Review for the environmental information.
  • Regarding the Tribunal membership, our view is that the amendment seeking to differentiate between municipal officials and municipal entity employees does not achieve the SPLUMA-required balance of municipal and independent members. We would further propose that the Appeal Authority should similarly comprise a balance of municipal officials and independent persons who make recommendations to the City Executive.
  • The Appeal process is fatally defective because it uses Council officials who will simply support their colleagues. This is totally against all principals of justice and it is not surprising that few appeals are launched. An Appeal Board of people with experience in town planning, legal matters, property development, environmental and heritage issues needs to be appointed and such an appeal board must be paid.
  • There is no protection for trees and this is an issue not simply of aesthetics or the character of an area but of climate change. We note that in many instances of increased density sites are cleared of all trees before development even takes place. This is true in Lower Houghton and Oaklands and is one of the main reasons for objections against increased density.
  • Trees need to be protected and we propose two measures.
    • Regarding rezoning applications: No tree may be removed from a site before the approval of the SDP. The SDP must show and identify all trees on the site and indicate which are to be removed and which are to be retained. Any owner destroying trees ahead of development shall be punished by having the development delayed by one year per tree destroyed. CLIMATE CHANGE IS A THREAT WHICH AFFECTS EVERYONE AND EVERYONE MUST ENDEAVOUR TO REDUCE THAT THREAT.
    • Where substantial trees are to be removed these must be replaced elsewhere within the township at the cost of the developer of the species height and girth to be determined by the Council.

We trust that this time there will be evidence of our input and that of other members of the public. No more lip-service, please.

Yours faithfully,

F Bird


Cc        Affiliated organisations:             Councillor B Steer

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