What is a plan change and does it really affect you?
Councils are required to maintain a planning document (District or City Plan) which sets out the rules on how you can use your land and when you can subdivide your land. This is required under the Resource Management Act (RMA). As Auckland is a Unitary Authority, its’ planning document is a called a Unitary Plan.
The rules set out when you need “resource consents” for certain activities and when you don’t. A typical rule will include the right to erect a dwelling on a property without obtaining a resource consent. However the rule will also set out the relevant controls – eg The dwelling must be located a certain distance from a boundary. If these controls are not met then a resource consent will be required. Similar rules will exist for subdivisions, and almost without exception all subdivisions will require a resource consent. It is an offence to undertake an activity without a consent if one is required, and Councils regularly prosecute offenders, often resulting in significant fines.
A Plan Change is a process Councils undertake to change the zoning or rules of the Plan. This can be initiated by either Council or private individuals. My next published article will look at how this affects you and what you can do about it.