Wellington Scoop

The sign that should have been illegal

Councillor Andy Foster spoke the truth on Saturday when he said the Wellywood sign should never have been approved by the city council. The sign is a huge breach of specific regulations in the council’s own district plan. So why was it approved?

According to the DomPost, Councillor Foster said:

“I don’t normally bag council officers. but on this one the officials who granted resource consent let us all down badly, and did not uphold the district plan.”

And further: the council would not be able to reverse the officers’ decision which was made under delegated authority.

Was it an error?

The 98m2 size of the sign – which has been permitted under a resource consent granted by the city council – is twelve times the maximum specified in the district plan. It also conflicts with the plan provision that any sign “located on Rongotai Ridge respect the important cultural and natural qualities of this landform.”

So if the decision was an error, it was a glaring one. And if it wasn’t, then nobody is explaining.

In June last year, the Civic Trust wrote to Garry Poole, the City Council’s Chief Executive, pointing out the apparent conflict between provisions in the district plan and the decision to grant a resource consent. When we last checked with the Trust, Mr Poole had not replied.


  1. Richard, 22. May 2011, 22:31

    Surely the consent can be challenged (in court) on the grounds that it wasn’t notified despite being at odds with the district plan? I don’t buy that the decision can’t be overturned given the obvious error in process.

  2. peter brooks, 22. May 2011, 22:34

    Just to put the record straight the Civic Trust first wrote to Garry Poole on this issue on 28 April. He replied on 19 May and we in turn wrote back on 10 June. Warren Ulusele, a planning officer, was then sent into bat by the council and we decided to take up his letter of 7 October with the Mayor. The Mayor in her reply of 14 February insisted that planning officers had applied the legislation and District Plan interpretation correctly. In that respect she takes a different view from Andy Foster.
    The Mayor did say in her letter that the District Plan appeared to be “more permissive than we had thought” and that the issue highlighted the need for elected officials to continue to work with planning officers to ensure that the District Plan policies and structures properly reflect community expectations and provide an appropriate level of community involvement.
    At least the airport will be providing us with a visual prompt on the need to ensure that the District Plan is an honourable document that the citizen can rely on and not a shonky insurance policy where only the small type matters.

  3. Ron M Oliver, 23. May 2011, 13:42

    Does this mean that council officers may breach the district plan anytime they choose because they have been given the right of non – compliance without notification?

  4. Laura, 24. May 2011, 6:41

    When non-notified Resource consent is granted by WCC, it means the Council do whatever they want and operate with impunity. This signage issue highlights how WCC officers at the Resource Consent department are ripping off us Wellington citizens’ rights, with their disregard to uphold the district plan.

  5. Trish, 26. May 2011, 12:19

    Is the council officer’s written decision available, setting out the logic and interpretation of the planning rules that were applied? Can it be posted for all to read?

  6. tim, 27. May 2011, 22:18

    Do we do “accountability” these days? or has that gone out with ethical public service ethos?

  7. Jamie, 27. May 2011, 23:37

    If there’s a risk of criticism, don’t be surprised Trish if you have a long wait. I know people who have been waiting months for information from the WCC that the council was lawfully obliged to provide but have failed to yet do so.

  8. Keith Flinders, 28. May 2011, 9:56

    Silly old me. I thought we paid city councillors handsomely to overview what the salaried council staff are doing, not to wait until after a major PR disaster and then trot out the line that the sign did not comply with the district plan. If the rules are laid down in the district plan then why have we ended up with this debacle?

    On the other hand if the rules are deficient what is being done to correct them? Mr Foster may want to reply to that question.