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A Shiny New System Or The Wazgij Of Planning Systems? 

Today, the government announced the framework for a shiny new resource management system, but the development community remains in the dark as to how the system will be governed, funded, or practically implemented by those at the coalface, says Property Council New Zealand chief executive Leonie Freeman.

“On the one hand, we applaud the government for reviewing a system that was fundamentally broken, but on the other, we had expected far greater detail to be shared given how long has been spent in the development of these proposals,” says Freeman.

“Today’s announcement is merely a foundation for building a system that may or may not stack up. Without context and the input of those who actively use the system on a daily basis, it is very difficult to foresee how the proposed Acts might work cohesively together.

“We have dubbed it the Wasgij of planning systems; we have several pieces of the puzzle but no idea what the picture on the front of the box might look like once configured.

“Property Council members shape the cities and spaces where New Zealanders live, work, play and shop. It is critical to the development community that this review is done right, to ensure the development pipeline continues to flow, planning costs are streamlined, and we don’t end up with greater strain on our housing market,” says Freeman.

“The initial Exposure Draft of the Natural and Built Environments Bill omitted to incorporate the built environment. However, today’s announcement saw the purpose incorporate the ‘use, development and protection of the environment.’

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“We are pleased to see that our previous concerns around this have been rectified. In our view, resource management reform should aim to simultaneously promote the wellness of both the built environment and the natural environment.

“It is important to remember that development is not just about property, but about creating communities with access to core infrastructure such as hospitals, schools, public transport, and affordable housing for all New Zealanders.

“With regards to the SPA, we have concerns that the 30-year regional plans will be developed and decided without the expertise of the development community at an early stage. It is critical that those who work within the planning system daily, those who understand the development pipeline and market, have a seat at the table to ensure that any decisions made are capable of being implemented down the line. A great plan on paper does not necessarily mean it can be implemented. Early collaboration between all parties, prior to the development of Implementation Plans, is critical to ensure we achieve the outcomes New Zealanders want and deserve.

“Overall, we want detail, says Freeman, we want to know how regional plans will be financed, which government agency or ministry will be leading this work, and how is the government going to organise itself to ensure this doesn’t turn into a can of worms, weighed down by bureaucracy?

“These reforms will have a significant impact on our cities and regions for generations to come, making it vital to ask these questions now and get the right expertise around the table, before we find ourselves with a system that merely looks nice on paper.”

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