Christchurch emergency powers allow Govt to ignore public opinion

Unpopular changes to the Christchurch district plan are a sign that democratic decision making is still being withheld from the people of Christchurch, the Green Party said today.

The significant changes are being made by the Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) and include removing urban design standards, creating the ability to bypass the resource consent process for some new developments, and removing the requirement to notify resource consent applications.

“Up to 97% of people who submitted on these changes oppose them. It’s a serious problem that the CCDU is now acting so radically against the wishes of the people of Christchurch. The Government needs to stop using the earthquakes as an excuse to override local democracy,” said Green Party local government and Christchurch spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

“The CCDU was established and given special powers under the extraordinary circumstances following the tragic Christchurch earthquakes, but it is now time that the normal democratic planning process resumes.

“When the Government passed the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Act in 2011 it said that special emergency powers were necessary for a limited time only. Now in 2015 it’s still using these special powers to make it easier for property developers to cut corners and fill the city with low-quality developments.

“This is a sign of things to come with National’s planned changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA). The Government is using the Christchurch rebuild to trial new, anti-democratic approaches to urban development. If the Government can change the RMA in the ways it wants to, what we’re seeing in Christchurch could become common throughout New Zealand.

“The people of Christchurch must have a say in how their city is rebuilt. Currently they’re being ignored by the Government. It’s not good enough for such important decisions about the future of Christchurch to be made in the Beehive without taking on board the wishes of the people of Christchurch.”