Better Urban Planning Report

31 March 2017


The Productivity Commission released its final Better Urban Planning report this week.

The Commission makes 64 recommendations, including having one law that supports and governs both the built and natural environments. This could be named the NZ Planning and Resource Management Act. The report will take time to digest, however recommendations which are generally consistent with NZPI submissions include:

  • making a distinction, within a single statute, between the built and natural environments with clear objectives and principles for each;
  • making spatial plans (in the form of Regional Spatial Strategies) a mandatory component of the planning hierarchy;
  • requiring local authorities to develop together, as a package, the Regional Spatial Strategy, a Regional Policy statement for the Natural Environment, and District Plans, for review by an Independent Hearings Panel;
  • providing councils in high-growth cities with better funding and financing tools (eg, value capture) and more sophisticated procurement tools


Finance Minister Steven Joyce welcomed the release of the report in a media release where he states: “The Government has made a number of changes to existing planning and funding tools…. NPS on Urban Capacity, proposed Urban Development Authority legislation, Housing Infrastructure Fund, RMA reforms, which progress areas of work the Productivity Commission identifies. In this report the Productivity Commission was asked to take a blues skies approach and provide a longer term view at what a future planning system could look like. The Government will respond formally to the Productivity Commission’s recommendations in due course….”

The NZPI has developed policy and made submissions on all of these Government proposals. We are ensuring planning system policies get debated at our conference in Wellington (the Productivity Commission’s Murray Sherwin has a slot; so does the Hon Nick Smith; and MPs from 5 political parties will appear at Thursday’s Political Forum.)