Heritage panel with consent input idea

A heritage panel which would have input into resource consent applications affecting historical buildings and properties is being considered by the Waitaki District Council, amidst concerns it could make the process lengthier and costlier for developers.

The idea was raised at this week's committee of the whole meeting in a report by planning manager David Campbell and was motivated by concerns over less local input into heritage-related resource consents, particularly with the move by the Government to disestablish branches of the Historic Places Trust, including the North Otago branch.

Mr Campbell's proposal was to establish a heritage panel, which could include councillors and trust representatives, to consider heritage-related consent applications. It would then provide input to staff considering those applications if they were non-notified or to the council's hearings panel, which operates under the Resource Management Act.

However, some council senior managers and councillors were worried that would add an extra step, with further delays in the resource consents process, and increase costs for applicants.

Strategy group manager Richard Mabon described the proposal as "a bad idea", when the Government was moving to streamline the consents process to make it simpler and more user-friendly.

Chief executive Michael Ross said the proposal could add an extra step to the process, placing an additional burden on applicants.

Cr Kevin Malcolm was also reluctant to see an extra step introduced and felt the hearings committee was capable of handling heritage issues.

But Cr Helen Stead said the heritage character of Oamaru was very high and questioned whether associated issues could be handled through the district plan.

Councillors have asked for a report on the possibility of establishing a heritage panel.



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