$500,000 spending on consultants needed for West Coast's TTPP

4:29 pm on 1 June 2023
The proposed Te Tai o Poutini Plan.

The draft Te Tai o Poutini Plan which is at the further submissions stage prior to the beginning of formal public hearings, expected from August. Photo: LDR / Greymouth Star

Spending on consultants for the Te Tai o Poutini Plan is forecast to be over half a million dollars in the next financial year.

Some of it is to cover the loss of permanent West Coast Regional Council staff who had been seconded internally to do TTPP work, while the remainder is for expert input from outside the region.

Acting TTPP project leader Rachel Vaughan said there were transfers between the consultant and salary budget as a matter of course to allow for staff vacancies to be covered by consultants.

The regional council planned a budget workshop in the second week of June to discuss the implications of the TTPP budget.

"Over the past four years the TTPP has had the benefit of an experienced senior planner," she said.

"With the position becoming vacant, additional planning services are required to complete the statutory process of consideration of information for each chapter of the plan."

At present the expert staff component for the TTPP is principally being undertaken from outside the region.

Principal planner Lois Easton - who has worked on the plan since it started - is contracted to the TTPP via her company, Gisborne-based Keruru Consultancy.

The acting TTPP project leader role is currently being undertaken by contracting back the council's former science and planning manager Rachel Vaughan, who is based in Kaikōura. The former manager, Wellington-based Jo Armstrong, resigned in March.

The TTPP senior planner role held by regional council planner Edith Bretherton for four years has been vacant since she moved to a new role with the Westland District Council late last year.

The report to the TTPP committee noted the budget allowed for $504,440 for consultant fees for the 2024 financial year, and a further $242,540 for salaries and wages.

There was sufficient budget to cover the contracts outlined in the report, Vaughan said.

The combined cost in the next financial year for staff and consultants is $746,980.

The regional council funds the TTPP but has yet to finalise how it will manage the cost - either through a further rates increase or by borrowing in the 2023-24 financial year.

But the council is aiming to finalise that, including a forecast 10 percent rates increase, when it adopts its annual plan by the end of June.

Vaughan said proposals for consultancy support for TTPP planning and hearings to finish the required statutory processes, had been sought in March.

The main headings where further input was sought were: energy, infrastructure and transport, general district wide matters, earthworks, temporary activities, light, noise, subdivision and financial contributions, commercial and industrial zones, and designations.

From three proposals, the favoured contractor was Barker and Associates. As well a contract with Kereru Consultants was required for the 2024 financial year.

* Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

* Disclosure: Te Runanga o Makaawhio chairman Paul Madgwick, a member of the TTPP Committee, is also the editor of the Greymouth Star. He took no part in the commissioning, writing or editing of this LDR story.

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