March 30, 2016
New Zealand is currently witnessing some of the biggest infrastructure projects the country has seen for years such as Auckland's alternative Western Ring $2 billion route road currently under construction, the $5 billion ultra-fast broadband involving high fibre companies and the $5 billion national transmission grid upgrade, New Zealand Planning Institute (NZPI) chief executive Susan Houston says.
Auckland and Christchurch housing stock growth is accelerating. Other projects include the $2.5 billion Wellington Northern Corridor through Transmission Gully, the $2 billion Waikato expressway, the $2.5 billion Auckland city rail link, the $5 billion Christchurch central city rebuild and the additional $4 billion Waitemata Harbour crossing, she says.
"As a corollary of these projects we are seeing more and more planners join the NZPI. We now have more than 2400 planners in the institute who are at the coal face of shaping New Zealand's future by helping to develop solutions to key land use issues. Our annual membership satisfaction survey shows that 90 percent of respondent members are satisfied or very satisfied with the broad range of services that the NZPI provides which is a great show of support for our work.
"Our planners are looking to effectively manage transport, water, economic issues and regional planning. NZPI's audience involves influential decision makers such as industry leaders, business managers, environment lawyers, judges, local government, central government, property developers, architects, landscape architects, surveyors, technical specialists, planners, mana whenua, community groups, construction and development industry members, urban designers, scientists, researchers, academics and tertiary students."
"We have our annual conference and our annual meeting in Dunedin in a fortnight (April 12-15). Key conference issues include planning for an aging population, climate change and natural hazards, assessment of the Resource Management Act (RMA), transport, technology in planning, heritage, water supply and infrastructure planning in changing times.
"An important workshop will be a panel of experts from both the Productivity Commission and the Ministry for the Environment presenting and stimulating ideas on how the RMA might better deliver across the four well-beings: economic, environment, social and cultural.
"Most of New Zealand's towns and towns are located by the coast where waves, the tide, wind and change in sea level can damage public and private assets. Managing coastal hazards has been a challenge over 25 years of Resource Management Act (RMA) experience. Recent high profile cases such as Kapiti and Christchurch demonstrate this is a serious issue for New Zealand's environmental sustainability," Houston says.
"Transport is another issue that needs careful and considered expert planning. We know Aucklanders can spend up to 20 days a year sitting in traffic and as a nation we are facing changes and big projects to address transport jams in our cities. We know getting people about by bike in an everyday fashion will become more common in New Zealand's towns and cities in the coming decades, so let's plan for that.
"This conference is about planning for New Zealand's future. New Zealand's population is ageing and living longer. The baby boomer generation sits on the cusp of retirement and we need to plan for both appropriate housing and caring for older New Zealanders."
The conference has attracted more than 500 planners, resource managers, urban designers and environmental practitioners from all over the country and they will discuss major planning issues affecting New Zealand, Houston says.
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