District Plan progresses to next, key stage

Published on 16 June 2022

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On Tuesday, councillors agreed to progress the Proposed Far North District Plan to the next stage in its 10-year review process. That means the plan will be publicly notified within the next six weeks, allowing you to make submissions on this version of the plan.

The District Plan is one of the most important documents the council has. Looking 30 years ahead, it sets out exactly what you can and can’t do on land within our district. If your property is zoned coastal, the District Plan will tell you what type of structures you can build, how close to the shoreline and so on. Likewise, the District Plan will provide rules on what activities you can undertake or where in land zoned rural. The District Plan impacts nearly everyone in the Far North.

All councils must review the District Plan every 10 years to ensure it continues to deliver outcomes that our district needs. For example, parts of the current plan (the Operative District Plan) were drafted as far back as the 1990s and it was adopted prior to key national planning guidelines, such as the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement and the new Regional Plan existed. The result is that our operative plan is quite permissive, providing inconsistent decisions out of step with current priorities. That has resulted in fragmented development that puts unnecessary demands on infrastructure and leads to the loss of valuable productive land. Mana whenua values have not been well-integrated into the current plan, meaning Māori development aspirations have not been well supported. We are also required under national policy to improve the way we protect our unique natural landscapes, waterways, and indigenous biodiversity.

Our Proposed Far North District Plan is an opportunity to address those issues and to create a plan that will serve our district for the next decade and beyond. The council and community have already devoted considerable effort into developing the draft. We began that work in 2016 with our ‘Let’s plan together’ campaign that invited the community to use an electronic map to locate issues that most concerned them and also involved a tour of the district to host drop-in sessions. We used the ‘Put a pin on it’ feedback to develop a draft policy framework that addressed nine significant resource management issues that became part of our 2018 draft framework. Then in 2021, we went back to the public with our Navigating Our Course consultation and asked for your feedback on the Draft District ePlan.

By authorising the Proposed District Plan for notification this week, the review process begins the shift to a more formal stage where iwi and hapū, community and stakeholder groups and all residents can make submissions on the Proposed District Plan and to participate in hearings. We will now be contacting all Far North ratepayers and those who provided feedback on our targeted engagement for the draft the plan. We want to ensure everyone has an opportunity to make a formal submission on the Proposed District Plan. We’ll provide links and full information on the plan in coming weeks.