City council concerns over ORC policy statement

New housing or infrastructure to meet Dunedin’s growth could be stymied through an overly prohibitive regional policy statement proposed by the regional council, the Dunedin City Council says.

The DCC’s draft submission to the Otago Regional Council’s proposed regional policy statement will be considered by city councillors tomorrow.

It acknowledges the short timeframe the ORC had to prepare its high-level policy document.

It says DCC staff did not want to be seen to be criticising ORC staff.

Rather, inadequacies showed the amount of time and consultation developing these documents took, it said.

Nevertheless, DCC senior planner Paul Freeland said the council’s draft submission highlighted a number of concerns about several key matters in the ORC policy statement.

The ORC needed to allow the DCC to plan infrastructure to support growth, he said.

It must not conflict with DCC plans for urban growth and it should take a collaborative approach with other councils.

The draft submission said overall the regional policy statement was quite restrictive and did not sufficiently provide for everything necessary for people and communities’ wellbeing.

It leaned too far towards protecting the environment.

In many circumstances, the regional policy statement called for the complete avoidance of adverse effects on the environment.

And the DCC said in some cases some adverse effects should be acceptable if there was an balancing positive effect.

‘‘Dunedin, along with other parts of Otago, is growing rapidly, and growth will inevitably result in some environmental effects,’’ it said. ‘‘While these effects must be managed and some environmental bottom lines should be set, there appears to be too high a priority on preventing any adverse effects rather than determining what level of effects are acceptable to support this growth.’’

Regional policy statements are overarching planning documents that identify environmental issues and provide direction to district plans and others.

The ORC’s proposed regional policy statement covers a wide variety of matters, including a policy for surf breaks of regional significance, and direction to avoid sprawling coastal subdivisions.

It aims to ensure freshwater is adequately protected.

The proposed regional policy statement was formally notified in June and submissions close tomorrow.

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