‘Planning fatigue’ discussed at hearing

Nicholas Geddes
Nicholas Geddes
"Planning fatigue" and the effectiveness of consultation came under the microscope at a hearing yesterday, as questions were asked about whether people had time to understand stuff which was "very difficult".

A panel of commissioners was considering a district plan variation to allow a major residential development at Ladies Mile.

The planning fatigue matter came up at the hearing in Queenstown yesterday.

Consultant planner Nicholas Geddes, of Queenstown, was discussing with the panel the level of public awareness of the variation being sought by the Queenstown Lakes District Council.

"It may seem a big process, and it may seem wide-ranging, but in Queenstown we have three of those going on at the moment.

"We’ve just spent some time in the court to get one [district plan] chapter settled for the Wakatipu Basin, we’re in the third stage of a plan review and then we’ve got social planning exercises."

As well, there were national policy statements being issued by the government at the rate of at least two per year, he said.

"It’s a busy little place.

"And, somewhere in the middle, people are trying to go to work and concentrate on living and then they are expected to understand all this stuff that we struggle with which, I think, is very difficult."

Panel chairman David Allen went on to add commissioners "often hear the argument in this community about fatigue — planning fatigue".

He asked longtime Queenstown lawyer Graeme Todd how widespread it would be for people not to be aware of the variation process.

Mr Todd said there was no way of knowing.

Some people would "switch off" at the mention of Ladies Mile because they did not think they would be affected.

There was also less use of maps in advertising.

"People may know now because of publicity — articles that have been in the newspaper — but realise it’s too late to be part of the process."

In his report for the council on Wednesday, consultant planner Jeff Brown noted the planning process began in November 2019 with a landowners workshop.

Since then, there had been almost 30 consultations with the public at various levels, but there were still submitters who considered there was not enough consultation.

The variation to the district plan would allow for the building of up to 2400 residential units at Ladies Mile — at the eastern end of Queenstown — to help ease the housing shortage.

Within the submissions, the commissioners are considering 18 minutes and memorandums, a section 42A report with five appendices and 16 expert statements of evidence, two pre-hearing conferencing documents, one clarification from a friend of the submitters, 10 evidence statements for submitters from lay witnesses, 69 statements from experts, 10 expert witness conferencing statements, six questions for experts, 16 responses from experts and a council legal submission.

The hearing is due to continue through most of next week.