Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Town planners are great, say town planners

The New Zealand Planning Institute -- the trade union for the country’s town planners -- says don’t repeal, reform or even alter slightly the Resource Management Act – the source of employment for the country’s town planners.

Trade union boss Bryce Julyan said recent statistics collected by the Ministry for the Environment “debunked the myth that planners were a handbrake on development.”


The statistics showed that of the 34,000 resource consents that were processed through to a decision in 2012/13, 97% were processed on time, only 5% were notified in some way and 0.27% were declined.


    And only a miniscule number of decisions were challenged, with 0.07% of resource consent decisions appealed.

Uh huh.

"People are generally getting decisions within the statutory time frames and, moreover, almost all applicants have had their consents approved, which suggests the information requirements are largely being met.


"These statistics tell us that local authority planners are undertaking the processing and assessment of resource applications with both rigour and efficiency," Bryce Julyan said.

No, Bryce. No they don’t.

They don’t show that at all because, for one thing, it’s very, very easy to show decisions are being made “within the statutory time frames” simply by council’s planners asking your developer’s planners and designers so many silly questions during the processing of said application that it could take until now and kingdom come to issue a consent -- and it will still be recorded as being issued “within the statutory time frame.”

For another thing, many projects – certainly far, far more than the 34,000 quoted – are simply canned at birth, or after the first, second or third pre-application meeting with council planners suggesting the project will not address the planners’ fashionable concerns, and will not be worth the time and money of applying.

And as for appeals, who the hell can afford the time or lawyer’s fees (the other profession using the RMA as a meal ticket) to appeal a planner’s decision to the Environment Court?  That there are so few appeals is not a sign the RMA works, but precisely the opposite.

And for just one more thing, what the figures very definitely do not show is all the many tens of thousands of projects, plans or developments, that never even get off –or even on to -- the drawing board because everybody who would be involved knows the planners will never, ever allow them.  These projects are simply stillborn, never to see either the light of day, nor the fog of a self-interested statistical analysis.

These would-be developments are simply unseen, unmeasured and unbuilt, unlike the few projects that do slip through the planners’ net, about which they crow as if they themselves were responsible.


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