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RMA changes to recognise the importance of urban areas

RMA changes to recognise the importance of urban areas

Proposed amendments to the RMA announced this morning recognise the importance of New Zealand’s urban areas.

Property Council chief executive Connal Townsend said the discussion document, Improving our Resource Management System, notes that under the RMA, economic and social issues are under-weighted in favour of environmental matters.

“Changing the RMA to allow for ‘the effective functioning of the built environment including the availability of land for urban expansion, use and development’ is considerable after 20 years of RMA practice.

“Frequently, local government uncertainty over how to balance natural, physical, social, cultural and economic matters has led to costly court proceedings.

“Our manifesto, Fast-Forward to Growth, recommended the Government modifies the definition of the environment to specifically include the built environment. It also argued the built and urban environment be recognised under the RMA by addressing the quality of the design and planning under matters of National Importance.

“Property Council supports proposals to develop clearer guidelines for matters of national significance, which would give both territorial authorities and the development community more certainty.”

Property Council also supports enabling territorial authorities to combine planning documents into a single integrated plan for the region.

“A single plan, similar to Auckland’s Unitary Plan, would allow other regions to look ahead and plan more effectively for the future. It’s so important for high-growth regions to broaden their thinking on how to provide for increased population – including ensuring an adequate land supply.

“We’ve seen the Productivity Commission respond on the need for more land, particularly in Auckland, and we are pleased to see this is also being considered under the RMA. It’s not just an Auckland issue.”

Consenting issues

Property Council has been a long-time advocate for change to the consent process under the RMA. Unreasonable information requests add to delays in processing, which stifles innovation and increases costs. These costs are often passed on to the end purchaser.

“We are reviewing Government proposals to speed up non-notified consents for less-complex projects and we will be seeking to work with the Government and local government to make sure we have an efficient but robust framework.

“An important part of legislative change is the practical changes that will need to be made. Ultimately, the system needs to work in practice.”

ENDS

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