Most Read Contributor in New Zealand, September 2016
The blue skies review into urban planning has now left
the runway, with the release by the Productivity Commission before
Christmas of an issues paper seeking feedback on possible
directions for change.
Submissions are due by 9 March.
The Commission has been tasked with identifying from first
principles "the most appropriate system for allocating
land use to support desirable social, economic, environmental and
The inquiry includes the Resource Management Act (RMA),
Local Government Act (LGA), Land Transport Management Act
(LTMA) and those elements of the Building Act, the
Reserves Act and the Conservation Act which bear on land use.
It sits separate to the work streams around the Resource
Legislation Amendment Bill and the proposed National Policy
Statement on urban development.
Weaknesses with current framework
The Commission identifies these as including:
an absence of strong linkages among the planning processes
required under the three main Acts (the RMA, LGA and LTMA) and
inconsistences among those links which do exist
a lack of common purposes and goals and an unclear hierarchy
among the Acts
a lack of consistency among the timeframes required by the
various plans and the time-phases in which they must be
rigid overlapping and time-consuming consultation and public
participation requirements, which are not necessarily achieving
positive outcomes, and
complex and unclear legal frameworks and rules.
These factors are making coordinated land use, transport and
infrastructure decisions inefficient and ineffective.
The Commission asks why the RMA has not delivered on its
original objectives of being purely effects based and consolidating
and making more consistent, resource use decision-making. It asks
which elements in the existing structure would be worth
transferring to a new structure.
It invites comment on which among a range of alternatives to
land use zoning it should explore further. Mechanisms include
common law and private bargaining, covenants, tradable development
rights and offsets, levies and user charges. Possible models are
from the US, Germany, Japan, Vancouver and Switzerland.
The big questions
At this early stage, the Commission is still working at the very
high level. Some of the questions it poses are:
whether we should continue to regulate environmental protection
and land use within a single regulatory framework or under separate
whether different regimes should be developed for urban and
whether infrastructure planning and funding should be
integrated into a single planning statute, and
(although most of the focus is currently on residential land)
whether particular tools should be developed to ensure an adequate
supply of industrial and commercial land.
The Commission will publish a draft report in July, with
responses due by September, and will deliver its final
recommendations to the Government by 30 November 2016.
Both the Government and the Commission have publicly indicated
an appetite for significant reform so there is a lot to play for.
We will be happy to assist you to prepare a submission.
The information in this article is for informative purposes
only and should not be relied on as legal advice. Please contact
Chapman Tripp for advice tailored to your situation.
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