There are likely to be two stages in which the community is provided with an opportunity to influence any proposals for rezoning and the extent of these zones.
The first opportunity, associated with preparing the Area Plan, is through informal/non-statutory consultation.
The second opportunity arises through the formal/statutory consultation process associated with a plan change or variation under the Christchurch City Plan, from which will arise formal rights of hearings and appeal.
Recognising the fact that issues arising and stakeholders affected would be different for each Area Plan, details should be provided in a Consultation Plan for each specific area. The Consultation Plan must be developed in consultation with the Communication Team, and in accordance with the Consultation Policy adopted by Council in 2003. It must also be in accordance with the requirements of the Local Government Act 2002.
Consulting with the community is necessary to:
- Alert stakeholders to the fact that an Area Plan is being developed and explain what it is and why it is being developed.
- Identify their values and aspirations (i.e. how the community would like to see the study area develop).
- Gather any further information that would assist the Council to determine relevant constraints and opportunities within the study area and the most appropriate pattern of land use.
- In many cases, to satisfy statutory requirements under the Resource Management Act 1991 and other legislation. It also needs to be recognised that agencies such as Environment Canterbury (ECan) are required to be consulted early under the First Schedule of the Resource Management Act.
Where the Area Plan is exploratory, and there is no Council commitment to alter zoning, external consultation should be focused on outside public agencies with a direct interest or from whom information is needed, e.g. ECan, New Zealand Transport Agency. Where there is wider public consultation, care needs to be undertaken to ensure that landowners' expectations of rezoning are not raised, or commitments made that the Council may not be able to deliver on.