New Zealand’s right-wing minority government is amending the legislation that defines the planning system, to address what it calls problems with “cumbersome planning processes”.
The Minister, Dr Nick Smith called it “a moderate reform Bill that will reduce the cost and delays for homeowners and businesses”. He introduced the Bill to amend the Resource Management Act by saying “This Bill is about reducing the bureaucracy that gets in the way of creating jobs, building houses, and good environmental management. It provides for greater national consistency, more responsive planning, simplified consenting and better alignment with other laws.”
Amongst the changes proposed are:
* Reduced requirements for notification of neighbours to a proposed development;
* Standard templates, “so we don’t have every council reinventing the wheel and having dozens of different ways of measuring the height of a building”;
* A fast-track 10-day consent for minor applications;
* Fixed fees for standard applications;
* Removal of the requirement for planning permission for “activities that are already properly regulated by other Acts.”
* Speeding up plan-preparation.
The Minister also promised “A new collaborative planning process will encourage different interests to work with councils on finding solutions to local resource problems.” The proposed legislation also includes requirements for managing natural hazards like earthquakes and sea level rise from climate change. It requires decommissioning plans for offshore oil and gas rigs.
The support of the Māori Party has been won by agreeing to their calls for stronger Māori participation in resource management. The party has only 2 MPs, but with the governing National Party narrowly short of an overall parliamentary majority, those 2 votes could be enough to carry through the Bill. The Greens, with 14 MPs, are opposed.
The NZ Government has also asked their Treasury-backed but “independent” Productivity Commission to review and report on urban planning. The brief is “to review NZ’s urban planning system and to identify, from first principles, the most appropriate system for allocating land use through this system to support desirable social, economic, environmental and cultural outcomes”. The Issues Paper from the Commission includes short but valuable reviews of urban planning elsewhere – Japan, Germany, USA, Switzerland, and Vancouver. It also addresses recent planning reforms in England.
For more and the source for the quotes used in this News item, please click here.
To read a response on behalf of the New Zealand Planning Institute, please click here.
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