The Campbell Brown Blog

Resource Management Act Phase II reforms

The Government is progressing the second phase of its RMA reform programme.

The first phase comprised a number of amendments to the Act to simplify and streamline processes, particularly in relation to the processing of resource consents. Those amendments have now been incorporated into the statute and appear on the whole to have achieved the government’s objective.

The second phase of the reforms focuses mainly on the more substantive matters of urban planning and infrastructure provision. The government has identified issues in relation to this area of resource management that it believes are impacting on New Zealand’s global competitiveness.

The proposed reforms recognise the key role that urban planning and infrastructure provision play in building competitive cities. A competitive city is one which combines high quality urban amenity, modern and efficient infrastructure, and a regulatory environment that encourages economic growth and business investment. The RMA is an important tool to assist the government to deliver urban centres that can measure up to this vision.

Some of the options that are being considered include widening access to powers of designation, streamlining processes for the approval of major infrastructure, reinforcing the use of spatial planning, introducing a national template for district and regional plans, establishing a national urban design panel, and enabling local authorities to compulsorily acquire and amalgamate land for major urban regeneration projects.

A number of these options are likely to be controversial. The government is seeking feedback on the reform options as part of its consultation process. Submissions were accepted until 17 December 2010.

We see the emphasis on spatial planning as being a major step forward. Effective spatial planning will enable Auckland to address the critical strategic issues that are important in developing a vibrant and prosperous city. At the same time, existing statutory planning documents can be consolidated to ensure that a simplified set of rules is in place to manage development.

We also see merit in the proposals that enhance the ability of local authorities to undertake major urban regeneration projects. Such projects can be a catalyst for further investment from the private sector, and contribute significantly to the revitalisation of urban areas.

We would be happy to discuss the impact of the reform process on you or your business or organisational interests, or provide you with assistance in drafting a submission. If you would like more detail about the government’s proposed RMA reform then you could click on the link below.