Wayne Thompson is a NZ Herald reporter.

Aucklanders get extra time to look at city plan

Penny Hulse. Photo / Richard Robinson
Penny Hulse. Photo / Richard Robinson

The Auckland Council has bowed to pressure and extended by six days the deadline for residents to have their say on its draft Auckland plan.

The new deadline for submissions is 4pm on Monday, October 31.

Since unveiling the plan a month ago, it had resisted calls by groups ranging from Grey Power to the Housing Lobby to extend the October 25 deadline.

The groups said that cut-off did not give people time to digest the 254-page draft of Auckland's growth and development strategy for 30 years.

The council's Auckland future vision committee gave in yesterday - when it had fewer than 200 submissions in the mailbox compared with 8500 views for the Auckland Unleashed discussion paper.

But six days grace was not enough for AA transport spokesman Simon Lambourne.

A one-month extension was needed, he said, because many people were unaware the plan existed, let alone know the council wanted their views.

Mr Lambourne said a survey of 1822 people showed half did not even know the council was seeking comment and 65 per cent thought consulting on the plan during the Rugby World Cup would put submitters off.

"The council appears determined to press ahead with controversial ideas, such as charging people to use motorways and when they drive into the CBD and reducing the number of CBD car parks, without providing Aucklanders a reasonable period to consider and respond to such proposals."

Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse said she had received letters from 15 groups asking for an extension.

"We have looked at the technical issues that come into play for giving as long as possible."

Hearings of submissions had to be completed in November and the plan validated so work could then start on the council's long term plan for 2012 to 2022.

"Giving an extra week will make a difference because it clears the Rugby World Cup final and the long weekend."

Questioned by councillor Michael Goudie, council regional strategy manager Ree Anderson said 198 submissions had been received at 9am yesterday.

Of those, 28 per cent were from people who wanted to speak to their submission before a council hearing.

"What is of interest is that we had 140 submissions on Monday and now there are 198 so as closing date comes nearer we find the number of submissions go up," Ms Anderson said.

Councillor Cameron Brewer agreed with the extension to October 31 and suggested the deferred school holidays had played a part in the lack of submissions.

In case there is a last-minute rush, the council plans to deal with 100 in-person submission a day in "workshop hearing forums" at the Auckland Town Hall.

This will add about $20,000 to the $1.2 million allocated for the plan's document and consultation.

Traditional hearings will give individuals 10 to 15 minutes to speak, large organisations 30 minutes and local boards 45 minutes.

Staff are asking people which one they want.

Tables will be assigned to each plan topic and with seats for 13, including a councillor and a recorder.

Mayor Len Brown will give a warm-up talk before each session.

The vision

* The draft Auckland plan is a blueprint for the next 20 to 30 years, covering population growth, climate change, economic power, social inequalities, environment protection, infrastructure needs and funding.

* The deadline for submissions has been moved to 4pm on Monday, October 31.

* The plan can be viewed at: www.theaucklandplan.govt.nz

- NZ Herald

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