Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Struggle to access copies of city plan

Navigating complex document online and finding a printed version proving difficult.

Auckland Council's draft unitary plan outlines the rules governing how the city is to be developed. Photo / Natalie Slade
Auckland Council's draft unitary plan outlines the rules governing how the city is to be developed. Photo / Natalie Slade

Many Aucklanders are struggling to find out if their neighbourhood is earmarked for high-rise apartments, heritage protection or the status quo in the new planning rulebook for the city.

The 1854-page draft unitary plan includes provisions for high-rise and multi-rise apartments and the nuts and bolts of what people can do with their properties.

But people are complaining about difficulty using the online version of the plan and trying to access 29 hard copies at local board offices, Auckland Town Hall and some libraries - about one copy for every 50,000 people.

At a public meeting in Mt Eden on Tuesday night, there was no material for locals to take away on the changes proposed for the suburb, only a single copy of maps to browse.

Birkenhead resident M. Carol Scott said in a letter to the Herald that she found the online document a "tortuously clunky process" and all she got from her local library was a brochure inviting her to "shape the world's most liveable city".

"Clearly, creating a Super City planning rulebook is a huge task, but how democratic is this process?" she said.

The Auckland Transport Blog said unlike the Auckland Plan - the 30-year blueprint for the city - the new rulebook was not a nicely worded document, but a complex, hard-to-use resource management document.

The Character Coalition - a lobby group of 52 community and heritage groups - said it was receiving many complaints about the difficulty of accessing the unitary plan.

Spokeswoman Sally Hughes said voluntary groups and ordinary citizens were struggling to access and understand the material, saying there was a strong case to extend the submission period beyond May 31.

"The mayor says we need a robust debate but the process will not allow this to happen in such a short timeframe," Ms Hughes said.

Last night, unitary plan manager John Duguid acknowledged the need to produce mini-maps to help people understand changes at local level, saying these would be available online and at local board offices from next week.

Step-by-step guides on making inquiries and using the electronic plan would be online shortly. There had been 30,000 hits on a council website for the rulebook, but he did not have figures for the number of hits on the document itself.

"We're getting feedback that the e-plan is working well and people are finding it fantastic," he said.

On the North Shore, the Kaipatiki Local Board has a copy of the plan and a laptop to see it online in a pop-up caravan visiting summer events. Chairwoman Lindsay Waugh said the board was "going out to the people, not expecting them to come to us".

The rulebook by numbers

30,000 number of visits to website
1854 number of pages
200 number of public meetings
29 number of hard copies for 1.5 million people.

- NZ Herald

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