Resource management reform needs to deliver on promise of better planning

By Wright Communications

The Minister for the Environment has acknowledged the RMA's role in planning and NZPI Chair Bryce Julyan agrees the Resource Management Act (RMA) is New Zealand's planning framework.

"We support improving the national planning framework through the RMA.  Changes should improve clarity and be unambiguous to ensure effective planning.  Planners support changes that will provide greater clarity and certainty, but not necessarily more process."

Mr Julyan says the Government's plan to revise and consolidate sections 6 and 7 of the RMA into a single list of principles is positive in theory but there could be a few fish hooks in practice and it therefore needs careful consideration.

"The section 6 list will still need to be strongly supported by Government through the completion of National Policy Statements in priority areas.  This is essential to avoid councils wasting time and resources moving ahead with reviewing plans in the absence of such guidance."

The NZPI is hopeful the announced changes will lead to consistency in local government planning and consent processes, but is wary of a formulaic approach which may not deliver expected outcomes.

"One size may not fit all in the case of planning and we would want to be sure that a single, templated resource management plan for any area does not undermine integrated planning for that region," Mr Julyan says.

The NZPI favours encouraging, or even incentivising, councils to pursue fully integrated planning, particularly those councils proposing to review plans in the next five years.

Mr Julyan says the aim should be to have fewer, more integrated plans, rather than creating single plans based on existing plans as an interim measure.

The NZPI, as the professional organisation representing planners, resource managers, urban designers, and environmental practitioners in New Zealand, is committed to ongoing dialogue with Government on resource management reforms and other issues to help improve planning throughout the country.


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