The NZ government has released New directions for resource management in New Zealand. Key drivers of the review were:

  • The way we use land has proved to be unsustainable
  • Urban growth is poorly managed
  • Land use must change to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change.
  • Māori are left out of critical decision-making.
  • Complexity, cost, delay, uncertainty and lack of responsiveness in the current system.

The following new legislation is proposed to replace the Resource Management Act 1991:

  • Natural and Built Environments Act (NBEA) – substantially different approach to ‘enhance the quality of the environment to support the well-being of present and future generations’.
  • Strategic Planning Act – long-term focus (30 years) and integrates with the NBEA, Local Government Act 2002, Land Transport Management Act 2003 and Climate Change Response Act 2002.
  • Managed Retreat and Climate Change Adaptation Act – powers to change established land uses as well as addressing liability and compensation.

Implications for Infill

The purpose of the resource management system will be refocused from managing adverse effects to achieving positive outcomes. This new approach is an opportunity to make planning regulations much more enabling.

The concept of ‘Te Mana o te Taiao’ will also be introduced. This recognises a shared environmental ethic that is similar to sustainable development. It is much broader than ‘sustainable management’ and alongside requirements for strategic and responsive planning as well as climate change adaptation the new framework will undoubtedly provide support for infill development.

Resource consents will remain, but with greater certainty. Combined plans will provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ for rules and policies; the non-complying activity ‘stick’ will be removed; notification will be more prescriptive and less unpredictable; matters to be considered in decision-making will be narrowed; information requirements will be more proportionate; and alternative dispute resolution processes established. These will be significant changes to current practice and should improve existing regulatory processes for all types of development.

National direction is to be used to promote competitive urban land markets by requiring a flexible approach to urban land use regulation. At the same time targeted rates will be used to fund infrastructure required for urban expansion. This will almost certainly advantage infill over greenfield development.