District plans form a central part of regional council strategy, but how many people actually take the time to review the plans or provide feedback? In Queenstown, new technology incorporating GIS in the form of an 'e-plan' means people in the community can tailor their view of the plan online to only look at items relevant to themselves and their property or places of interest.
"We are acutely aware that something like a district plan is not only intensively complex but exceedingly dry and traditionally buried in a tome of information. We're changing that because this document is actually really important to every single resident and ratepayer," Queenstown Lakes District Council senior policy analyst Jonathan Richards says.
You can visit eplan.qldc.govt.nz to try it for yourself, but the trial area is limited to parts of Arrowtown for now given its "complex district plan rules, multiple heritage features and trees, and its strong community involvement in planning issues".
While addresses outside the trial area may still display, not all information has been loaded yet.
Following the trial of the concept for Arrowtown, rollout will commence for the entire area to coincide with the district plan review.
"Initially we want to know if this is considered a good way to look at the district plan and eventually we will be using the technology to receive comments as part of the formal review," Richards says.
E-plan was part of a cross-departmental approach taken to reduce costs and improve service delivery. The current district plan costs users $365 to purchase its three printed volumes plus maps, and a further $70-$150 per printed update, which happen once or twice per year.
The council says there are approximately 200 printed copies in circulation; if purchased all at once that is a $73,000 print cost, paid mostly by users. The annual updates currently cost users between $14,000 to $30,000 per year depending on their size and frequency.
Although the council updates PDF versions of the plan to its website as soon as they are available, there can often be a lag of several months before the printed versions are collated and distributed. With E-plan, the council can update adopted revisions and make them available to all users instantly.