Productivity Commission releases ‘Better urban planning’ report

The Productivity Commission has published Better Urban Planning – the final report on the Commission’s urban planning inquiry.

In 2015, the Government asked the Productivity Commission to review New Zealand’s urban planning system and to identify, from first principles, the most appropriate system for allocating land use to support desirable social, economic, environmental and cultural outcomes.

The Commission’s report recommends a future planning system aimed at managing growth pressures such as escalating house prices and inadequate infrastructure,  while affording more effective protection of the natural environment. Significant differences from current arrangements include:

• clear and separate objectives and principles for the natural and built environments within a single planning and resource-management statute

• greater recognition of the social and economic benefits of development under the objectives and principles for the built environment

• clearer protective limits for the natural environment within which development can occur, and a more flexible and adaptive approach to addressing harmful cumulative effects of development on the natural environment

• spatial planning as a mandatory component of the planning hierarchy

• independent hearings panels to undertake thorough, objective and prompt reviews of plans in a region as a package, and against statutory objectives and principles

• stronger guidance and expectations on protecting Māori Treaty interests in the natural and built environments, through a National Policy Statement on Planning and the Treaty of Waitangi

• pricing of infrastructure that is efficient, fair and contributes to cost recovery

• giving councils in high-growth cities better funding and financing tools, and more sophisticated procurement tools, to enable enough infrastructure investment to meet the demand for development capacity

• alternative development models to relieve supply constraints on development through competitive urban land markets and through urban development authorities

• stronger central government stewardship of the planning system, with better and more considered use of guidance, standards and performance monitoring

• Māori participation in system stewardship through a National Māori Advisory Board and a 5-yearly Treaty of Waitangi audit of the system.

To view and download the full report click here.

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