There has been a lot of interest in the upcoming hotel development on Aorangi Crescent in Tekapo, so we thought we'd provide some information to provide some background and context.
Update - Friday 29th November 2019.
Official Requests for Information
The process is prescribed by the Local Government Official Information & Meetings Act 1987. The majority of requests are simple and limited in scope, and there is no charge for the first 30 minutes of work. There is a schedule of charges published on the Council website based on staff time required to research, obtain, collate and review material prior to release. Records were only digitised from July 2018 and to find information from before this time usually requires a physical search of archived material. Where requests are very broad, or apply to information stretching back for a considerable number of years, or both - the time taken to search through emails and physical files can be significant. In these circumstances we offer to work with the requester to find a way to get the information they require in a more efficient (and therefore more cost effective) manner. In practice this would mean agreeing some search parameters so that only the most relevant sources of information need to be searched through.
Section 14 of the Act provides for the extension of the usual time limit if 'the request is for a large quantity of official information or necessitates a search through a large quantity of information and meeting the original time limit would unreasonably interfere with the operations of the local authority'.
For a small Council like Mackenzie District, processing requests requiring significant physical and time resource would impact daily operations severely if we didn't extend the time frame accordingly.
Applicants are advised that they can refer decision to the Ombudsman if they are unhappy with Council's response.
Links below to MDC fees and charges and the Act itself.
Land Swap Proposal - Clarification
Following questions raised at yesterday's public meeting we'd like clarify why it isn't possible to pursue the proposed land swap proposal.
Council are unable to instigate a land swap because the land in question is not owned by Council, but by the developer. It would be unlawful for Council to interfere with the rights of any consent holder.
Council has a moratorium on sales of all council owned land. This is in place because Council recognises the need to update the District Plan in consultation with the community to ensure that future development occurs in a way that balances the need for growth and development in Tekapo with appropriate protections for our communities and the environment.
The District Plan review is underway and we look forward to working together with the community to develop a robust and appropriate framework for future growth.
Update - Friday 11th November 2019.
Land Swap Proposal - Tekapo Hotel Development
Staff and Councillors have received and reviewed a land swap proposal relating to a consented hotel development in Tekapo. Council has no authority to interfere with the rights of a consent holder and see no way to progress this proposal. Councillors have therefore instructed staff not to allocate further resource to this matter.
With regard to the other issues raised, Councils position remains unchanged.
The site is currently zoned for tourist activities and visitor accommodation of this scale is provided for and anticipated. This is not an out of zone activity and traffic associated with such activities is anticipated by the District Plan.
The decision to notify or not is governed by the provisions of the Resource Management Act and Council remains satisfied that due process was followed. Council has no authority to change this decision. The only avenue open to any party who feels due process has not been followed would be to make an application to the High Court for judicial review.
Traffic and parking aspects of the hotel development were assessed by technical experts at the time the consent was granted. The consent has 33 conditions which mitigate a number of identified potential effects. The last condition is a 'review condition' that would allow Council to go back to the consent holder once the hotel is established and review conditions of consent with regard to certain matters, if it becomes apparent that there are unforeseen issues arising in relation to a number of matters including traffic.
The Mackenzie District Plan is the community's rulebook, providing the framework for development and use of land within our district. Council acknowledges that the current plan became operative in 2004 and is due for review. The process of reviewing the current District Plan is underway and that process will provide engagement opportunities for all stakeholders to participate in discussions about what the zoning and provisions should look like in the future.
Council must ensure that resources are focused on delivering changes to the plan that consider the concerns raised in relation to the tourist zoning and provide a more appropriate framework for future development, balancing the need for economic growth with the needs of our communities, and the need to protect our environment, in Tekapo and across the District.
It is important that staff and Councilors understand the views of the community and within the next few weeks we will be inviting feedback to help us ensure the review addresses the issues which are causing concern. We hope the community will work with us to develop a robust District Plan which addresses all our needs and protects the things that make the Mackenzie District so special.
Relevant Resource Consent Documents (attached below)
RM140040 Resource consent for hotel granted in 2014 (on the Aorangi Crescent site)
RM 160190 New resource consent on the same Aorangi site with amended design/layout
RM 160190.1 Change of condition reflecting amendments to building design
Aorangi Crescent Hotel Background Info
The site is identified in the District Plan as sitting within a Tourist Zone which specifically provides for visitor accommodation and other associated tourism activities. A resource consent is not required for visitor accommodation activity in a Tourist Zone.
Tourist Zones are different to, for example, 'Residential 1' zones - where the activity of visitor accommodation would require a resource consent for more than six people.
When the applications for the initial hotel development (granted in 2014) - and the subsequent application (granted in 2017) were received, no resource consent for visitor accommodation was required because the site falls within a zone where this activity is permitted.
Resource consents, however, were required to address the following matters of control/discretion:
- Design and appearance of the buildings
- Provision of car parking and length of vehicle crossing
The District Plan rules don't allow Council to consider any other matters other than those listed above.
Resource consent applications relating to the above matters were processed and granted subject to a significant number of conditions designed to ensure that adverse effects are appropriately mitigated.
One of the conditions is a 'review condition' meaning that once the hotel is operational Council can review the effect of the activity and amend conditions where appropriate to ensure they are mitigating adverse effects as intended.
We have provided below answers to some common questions regarding the consent process in general and some specifics of this application.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the 'rules' concerning planning and development and are they publicly available?
The District Plan outlines what activities can occur in different areas of the District. In certain zones, some activities are permitted, some are prohibited and some require a resource consent. District Plan maps and rules are freely available on the Council website - or on request from our Planning team (email@example.com).
If a Resource Consent is required, Council follows a process laid down in the Resource Management Act (RMA). Council have a legal obligation to follow this process. The RMA is statutory legislation enacted by central Government. The Act is due for review in 2020 and all local authorities - and the public - will have the opportunity to make submissions on any proposed changes. The RMA can be found online by clicking here.
Who makes the rules and can they be changed?
District Plans are developed by local authorities in accordance with the first schedule of the RMA which requires extensive public consultation before it becomes operative. Any changes to the District Plan must also follow this process.
The RMA requires local authorities to review District Plans every ten years. The Mackenzie District Council's District Plan is currently under review (more details below).
What happens when an application for a Resource Consent is received by council?
Applications are checked for completeness against the rules in the District Plan and any further information required is requested. Once all the relevant information is at hand decisions are made about affected parties and process (i.e. if an application can be dealt with under delegated authority, requires limited notification or public notification).
The RMA defines the process to be followed when making a decision about notification (see Section 95 of the RMA).
Who decides if an application for a resource consent should be publicly notified and what process is followed?
This is a function of council, delegated to senior planning staff. More complex notification decisions may be reviewed by an independent RMA Commissioner before a final decision regarding process is made.
Why wasn't there a public hearing for the Aorangi Crescent Hotel?
No resource consent was required for the visitor accommodation (because it's a permitted activity in a Tourist Zone).
Resource consents were required for breaches of standards that were assessed as being no more than minor in terms of their effect.
Therefore under S.95 of the RMA the threshold for limited or public notification was not met.
Can resource consent decisions be reversed?
For Council, the short answer is 'no'.
Any party who feels that due process has not been followed can make an application to the High Court for judicial review.
What if the hotel and its associated activities have unforeseen effects?
The RMA provides for the imposition of a review condition - which has been included as a condition on the relevant consent:
'The consent authority may review the conditions of this resource consent to deal with adverse effects on the environment which may arise from the exercise of the consent and which it is appropriate to deal with at a later stage, and in particular adverse effects of lighting on the night sky, traffic movements, and the use and design of the on street parking and pedestrian footpaths along or adjoining Aorangi Crescent. ' (RM 160190 condition 33)
In practice this means that once this consent has been given effect to (i.e. when the hotel is operating Council can review and if necessary amend conditions to ensure that any unforeseen adverse effects are appropriately mitigated.
Can Council change the zones in the District Plan?
Council can consider a change - but there is a process of extensive public consultation to be followed in accordance with the RMA as previously noted. Council is required to consider all submissions received before making a final decision.
If the zones were to change in the future, how would the Aorangi Crescent hotel development be impacted?
In short, it wouldn't be. Under the RMA, the resource consent is valid for a period of five years (in this case until 2022). If the zone were to change, and activity authorised by a prior resource consent can continue to operate under the conditions of the original consent. Under section 125 of the RMA, the applicant has the right to apply for an extension of time but the decision making process would take account of any changes in District Plan zones and/or provisions.
When is the District Plan due for review?
Can I have input into the District Plan review?
Absolutely! Within the next few weeks we'll be asking the community for their view on the issues that need addressing when the District Plan is reviewed. We have some thoughts of our own and after hearing your suggestions we'll then share the issues we're intending to address. Staff then prepare discussion papers suggesting how the plan might be amended to address those issues. These discussion papers will also be publicly available and we'll be asking for feedback and comment. Council then prepare a draft plan, followed by a proposed Plan that will go through a formal public consultation process before being adopted.
Relevant Planning Documents