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Independent chair appointed for PDP hearings panel

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

An independent chairperson is to head the Hearings Panel which will eventually make decisions on matters raised in submissions to the Proposed District Plan (PDP) for the Kāpiti District, accompanied by another independent commissioner.

Former Kāpiti Borough Councillor Alistair Aburn will be the independent chair and Wellington urban planner David McMahon the independent commissioner. Both are very experienced hearing commissioners.

Council today also decided to take the option of appointing an iwi commissioner to sit alongside two elected members (councillors) on the five-person panel rather than having elected members in all three remaining positions.

Mayor Ross Church said the decision to appoint an iwi commissioner reflects the fact that the PDP covers issues of great significance to iwi - in particular protection of waahi tapu and of natural values. It is therefore desirable that the panel include a commissioner with proven expertise in matters of interest to iwi.

"It also continues the involvement of iwi in the PDP process, which dates from the preparation stages of the PDP via the establishment of a Tāngata Whenua District Plan Review Working Party," he said.

Council staff will now create a shortlist of possible iwi candidates and seek registrations of interest. As far as elected members are concerned, only those councillors who hold accreditation as commissioners under the Resource Management Act are able to be appointed to the panel. "These appointments are not expected to be made until at least three months before the start of the hearings. This is to avoid possible conflict with the Local Government elections at the end of 2016, when sitting councillors may not be re-elected or may decide not to stand," said Mayor Church.

Prior to then, the independent chair can work with staff on advance planning for the format and conduct of the hearings, without needing the early appointment of the whole panel.

If anyone would like further information, they can email or phone Council on (04) 296 4700 or 0800 486 486.

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