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Planning report supports LGNZ’s thinking

Planning report supports LGNZ’s thinking

The Productivity Commission’s new report on urban planning contains many good suggestions for improving the ways New Zealand cities are planned, Local Government New Zealand says.

Better urban planning, released today, is a review of New Zealand’s urban planning system and considers fundamentally different ways of organising and servicing cities.

“The Productivity Commission has done an effective job identifying problems and proposing solutions. The draft report provides contains some useful proposals for a future planning system – one that works better for our cities.

“Whatever framework we arrive at, it needs to allow for integrated decision-making across the natural and urban environments,” LGNZ Vice President, Lawrence Yule says.

Many of the Commission’s draft recommendations are aligned with those included in LGNZ’s recently-released eight point plan for reforming the resource management system. The report recommends greater use of spatial plans as a tool. LGNZ supports greater use of spatial plans as a tool especially in high-growth areas to enable better coordination of roads and social infrastructure such as schools.

Stuart Crosby, Chair of LGNZ’s Metro Sector and Mayor of Tauranga, says LGNZ is particularly pleased to see the recommendations that include alternative tools to fund infrastructure and supplement the existing tools available to local government. This reinforces the finding of LGNZ’s 2015 Local Government Funding Review which recommended a greater range of tool to incentivise development.

LGNZ also agrees we need:
· a presumption in favour of development in urban areas, subject to clear environmental limits;

· a focus on the “culture” of planning;

· to remove legislative barriers to wastewater and road pricing and empower councils to make these decisions in consultation wit their communities;

· to be able to capture value uplift when land is rezoned;

· to reconsider who can appropriately participate in our resource management processes and who can appeal decisions; and

· a change to the law so the planning system is more responsive.

“Changes of these types would mean we can more quickly get plans in place to respond to pressing issues or to new information. The local government sector has been saying this for some time,” Mr Crosby says.

However LGNZ has concerns about the Commission’s draft proposal to create a permanent centralised Independent Hearings Panel to hear submissions and make decisions on reviews of resource management plans.

“Decisions on policy and plans should be made by local elected members, who are ultimately accountable for their decisions and are connected to their communities, although we agree local authorities should retain the choice to use independent hearings commissioners to make decisions – which they often do. The point we are making is this must be a local choice,” Mr Crosby says.

LGNZ also agrees with the report’s finding for a stronger partnership between central and local government to achieve better planning and development outcomes, and sees the recommendations about the need for ‘a whole of government view’ are particularly important – for instance how an aspiration of improving water quality is to be balanced with growing a city. These decisions are challenging locally and nationally.


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