Collaboration key to urban development

Central and local government and industry must work together to ensure that the Government’s proposed new urban development strategy is successful.

Friday, October 11th 2019

That’s according to the Property Council, Infrastructure New Zealand and the Master Builders Association.

Restrictive planning laws have driven up the price of land and housing and left many New Zealand cities unable to grow and develop effectively.

This has long been identified as a problem which needs to be addressed.

And, back in August, the Government released its proposed National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS) to try and do so.

It proposes new rules for how councils, particularly in high growth centres like Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Queenstown, should plan for urban growth and development.

Submissions on the NPS closed this week and this has prompted the Property Council, Infrastructure New Zealand and the Master Builders Association to speak up.

The three organisations support the purpose of the NPS but say it must be underpinned by clear strategic and collaborative planning processes which include all key stakeholders.

Property Council chief executive Leonie Freeman says that in order for the NPS to avoid the mistakes of the past and succeed in its objectives, must better identify processes for collaboration and planning.

“Mandating strategic planning between local authorities, central government and industry is critical to the success of the government’s proposed National Policy Statement on Urban Development.”

“We need to start talking to one another and commit to coordinated planning between central government and local authorities at an urban level.

“This would ensure planning and funding for future development and infrastructure such as hospitals, schools and transport is coordinated across local authorities.”

Freeman also believes the policy should be taken further and it should be mandatory for all medium to high growth councils as this will ensure they aren’t left behind in planning decisions and are prepared for future growth.

“Aligning the FDS with council’s current planning system, in particular long-term plans and 30-year infrastructure plans, is also key to unlocking New Zealand’s growth potential.”

For Infrastructure New Zealand CEO Paul Blair, urban growth management to date has failed in New Zealand resulting in poor housing outcomes and infringement upon highly productive land.

That means that improved central guidance through an NPS will help, but the reason growth cities are struggling is not because of poor central planning guidance, he says.

“Inadequate funding for infrastructure, weak governance and statutes which don’t align are the real problems. The two NPS documents on urban development and highly productive land, if anything, exacerbate integration issues.

“We need a much more collaborative process to align the public and private sectors, iwi and communities at every stage of urban development’s planning, funding and delivery. Spatial planning and the Construction Sector Accord are recent positive actions which we’d like to see expanded into urban growth management activities nationwide.”

Registered Master Builders CEO David Kelly agrees, but adds that signalling from central government and local authorities is also important. “A forward work programme will provide certainty in the sector when making business decisions around employment, training and business investment.”

Read more:

New policy to address “failing cities” 

Govt opts for sweeping review of underperforming RMA 


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