Changes to the National Policy Statement on Urban Development and the status of the urban design “profession”
Authors: Jill Gregory, Senior Associate, Tompkins Wake – Beth Ford, Associate, Tompkins Wake
The National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) has had a somewhat complicated start to life since it replaced the previous 2016 iteration in 2020. Much of the recent publicity surrounding the revised NPS-UD has focused on its role in the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021 and local authorities’ current work to incorporate it into their various plans. However, the NPS-UD’s relationship with private plan changes provisions of the Resource Management Act 1991, and its effect on the recognition of the urban design community is also worthy of closer examination.
NPS-UD AND PRIVATE PLAN CHANGES
Privately initiated plan changes have a history as a developer’s tool to accelerate and unlock yields and development form not otherwise provided for in existing planning frameworks. Given this history, it might have been expected that the NPS-UD and private plan changes would have been natural bedfellows. It is therefore somewhat surprising that, in its first iteration, the NPS-UD did not specifically provide for it to play a role in the private plan change space. This loophole would appear to have been an unintentional one, given the speed with which it has been closed by the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021. While this was one of the less controversial provisions of the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021, the newly inserted Resource Management Act 1991, s 77S has created flexibility in the NPS-UD that is unique to it amongst National Policy Statements.