Plan review costs 'ridiculous': Kircher

Mayor Gary Kircher.  Photo: Hamish MacLean
Mayor Gary Kircher. Photo: Hamish MacLean
A nearly $500,000 gap in the budget for the estimated $3.63 million Waitaki district plan review has been filled.

Before the election, the Waitaki District Council approved bringing forward budgeted spending from the long-term plan - from 2021 through to 2024 - to help planners get a draft version of the over-arching document out by the middle of next year.

The council also formally acknowledged planners would need to ask for more money for the district plan in the next annual plan.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said the overall costs for the review were "really ridiculous'' and were an indictment of central government's structuring of the Resource Management Act.

Council heritage, environment and regulatory group manager Lichelle Guyan said her group needed "some specialist help to get us across the line''.

Council senior planner Anna McKenzie's report to the council said an insufficient budget would "significantly affect the quality'' of the draft plan, which would likely generate more submissions and appeals, creating added costs; affect timeframes and "potentially create a non-compliance with the two-year statutory timeframe'' that council has to make decisions on submissions.

"The review is subject to significant risks, of probable likelihood of eventuating, and therefore needs specific mitigation actions to reduce the impact which must be budgeted for. Significant risks include, but are not limited to, new requirements at national level for biodiversity, urban development, highly productive soils and freshwater.''

Her report said the council was expecting to spend $156 for every district resident on the plan.

Contributing to the development of the draft plan's 32 chapters was the requirement to finish master plans for Otematata, Omarama and the Oamaru Harbour, and to review urban growth requirements.

In June, the council asked for feedback on its district plan discussion document and later announced it had received more than 200 responses.

The Otago Daily Times asked to see the feedback in its entirety on September 12. As yet, due to "limited staff resources'' the council has not provided the information.


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