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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Land zoning review process - Part 3

The zoning review process has major flaws - the absence of due process and transparency.

Neither Minister Brownlee nor Roger Sutton have thought to mention that so far all detailed zoning information has been withheld.

Since last year the Government has refused to make geotechnical information available until all zoning was completed. Is it just a coincidence that the hurriedly introduced review application process closes before the geotechnical information becomes available? Either way  the Government has denied those affected the detail used for making decisions concerning their homes.

It has been said that there is information in the Cabinet Papers, but they are just big picture summaries with no supporting detail at all. As a source of suitable information they are totally inadequate.

So, where is the information that will allow the panel, as Roger Sutton puts it, "... to check that the original zoning is consistent with the criteria agreed by the Government, or to see if there are anomalies with the boundary designations, or if the infrastructure in the specific area would not actually be viable to maintain."? In particular where is the detail concerning the human issues of timeliness, uncertainty, disruption arising from repairs to infrastructure and property, health and welfare? If it is ready and waiting for the review panel why hasn't it been released?

Withholding information means anyone considering a review has no idea of what the significant issues are for them, and must make decisions and put their case without adequate information. Where is the due process in that?

The problem extends beyond this. How can people have faith in a review process which has all the appearances of being rushed (two weeks to make an application, four weeks for the panel to review a likely 1000+ applications and respond to applicants), and there is no opportunity to make a personal submission? The stakes are very high yet the process is rushed and carried out behind closed doors.

How can review applicants be sure that the whole process is nothing more than an exercise in political theatre - appearing to do the right thing to avoid challenges in court?

At the individual level one way of determining the extent to which a thorough and diligent assessment is made is to request full details for the decision on each point considered by the panel, and if criteria were not considered why this was so.

Failure to provide detailed individual decision is going to be grounds for taking the issue out of  CERA's jurisdiction.

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