The Auckland Council is spending $250,000 on computer software for online searching of its forthcoming planning rulebook - after criticism of a $411,000 bill to print the glossy Auckland Plan.

Called the Unitary Plan, the new rulebook is supposed to carry out the directions for the region's growth given in the Auckland Plan.

Regional planning manager Penny Pirrit said yesterday the council would be printing some hard copies of the Unitary Plan when it was ready for public comment in September next year. She could not say how many.

"Focus will be on hard copies for libraries and service centres and then a limited supply which, no doubt, will be dependent on cost."

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The council has accepted a tender from the Twentyfour company for $253,710 to develop the software for the online version of the plan.

Property owners who look at the Unitary Plan online will be able to get answers to planning-related requests.

Additional costs are expected as the programme is developed.

Environmental Defence Society chairman Gary Taylor said yesterday that planning documents had long been the domain of professional planners and lawyers.

Mr Taylor said officials faced a "heroic task" in trying to put out a concise and plain English version, because they had to compress seven district plans and five regional planning documents into one.

The Herald on Monday revealed that it cost $411,000 to produce the 380-page Auckland Plan book and a 60-page addendum.

The launch of the plan at Auckland War Memorial Museum on May 29 cost $26,860, excluding council staff time.

UNITARY PLAN
* 1 plan, paper and online versions.
* 8 district plans and regional policies combined.
* $253,710 cost of software.
* 2013 (March) draft document discussion.

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