National Planning Standards

The government has released draft National Planning Standards for public submissions. The planning standards are seen as an opportunity to standardise RMA planning documents and to reduce unnecessary variation so that RMA plans are easier to make and use. This is intended to enable councils and plan users to focus on the matters that directly influence resource management outcomes rather than getting bogged down in unnecessary detail.

The draft planning standards prescribe the structure and form of plans including zoning (types and purposes), definitions, mapping conventions, but is the balance of standardisation and flexibility appropriate? Will the proposed standardisation increase the efficiency of policies and plans while also enabling communities to pursue unique environmental outcomes? The planning standards will kick the RMA into the 21st century requiring electronic functionality and accessibility of plans. With this move into the E-plan space, will the proposed level of prescription limit innovation in plan delivery?

The planning standards will have real implications for councils who are juggling multiple legislative requirements, businesses with significant investment and infrastructure providers with service obligations. The process to implement the planning standards will involve more investment from authorities and communities than simply rearranging existing material in the planning documents, especially where national policy statements and environmental standards are already being given effect to.

It is critical to lodge a detailed submission (before 17 August).There is no further opportunity to present evidence or further submissions at a first-instance hearing, and no appeal rights. Hill Young Cooper has a highly experienced team able to assist you with understanding the implications of the planning standards and to make a submission, so get in touch with Chloe Trenouth or Vanessa Wilkinson on 09 353 1286.