Auckland's Unitary Plan: Update

More than three years after the Proposed Auckland Unitary Plan (“PAUP”) was notified, we are now into the business-end of the process.

Auckland Council decision

Auckland Council released its decisions on the PAUP in August 2016. We commented on the decision in detail in our previous article here.


Over 100 appeals have been filed on the Council’s decisions version of the PAUP, covering a wide range of issues. Some appeals have been made to the Environment Court, and others have been made to the High Court on points of law. There are also a number of judicial review proceedings in the High Court.

PAUP operative in part

On 8 November 2016, the Council gave public notice that the PAUP would become “operative in part” on 15 November 2016. The Council has updated its decisions version of the Plan to include annotations indicating which parts of the PAUP are under appeal, and which parts are beyond challenge and can be treated as operative (i.e. are not under appeal). The latest version of the PAUP is available here.

Which PAUP provisions that must be treated as operative - and which provisions cannot be - has important implications, including for resource consents applications. Essentially, for resource consent applications involving only those PAUP provisions that must be treated as operative, only the PAUP applies (the previous provisions in the legacy plans are inoperative and have no legal effect). In contrast, for resource consent applications relating to those parts of the PAUP that are subject to appeal and cannot be treated as operative, the Council is required to assess such applications against the relevant parts of both the PAUP and the legacy plans. This will often have major implications for applicants.

Where to from here?

It is uncertain how long the various Environment Court appeals, High Court appeals and judicial review proceedings will take to track through their respective processes. The Environment Court has adopted a special process in order to deal with its PAUP appeals, which attempts to streamline the process.

We will continue to monitor the progress of appeals, including what they mean in terms of the application of the PAUP. Once all appeals are resolved, the PAUP will become fully operative. To discuss the PAUP and its implications for you, please contact Jason Welsh or Chris Simmons.  

Posted on December 1, 2016 .