About the National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity

This page provides information on the National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity 2016. 

Document links and Minister's media release

About the National Policy on Urban Development Capacity 2016

National policy statements are issued by the government to provide direction to local government about matters of national significance which contribute to meeting the purpose of the Resource Management Act 1991. 

The National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity 2016 (NPS-UDC) is about recognizing the national significance of:

  • urban environments and the need to enable such environments to develop and change
  • providing sufficient development capacity to meet the needs of people and communities and future generations in urban environments.

The NPS-UDC was developed by the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

Why it is needed

Some urban areas in New Zealand are growing quickly. To support productive and well-functioning cities, it is important that regional policy statements and regional and district plans under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) provide adequate opportunities to develop land for business and housing to meet community needs.

The 2015 Productivity Commission inquiry into ‘Using land for housing’ recommended that a national policy statement could help address the constraints on development capacity in the resource management system. The NPS-UDC forms part of the Government’s response to the Productivity Commission recommendations. 

This national policy statement also forms part of the Government’s comprehensive, longer-term programme of national direction under the RMA. 

What it does

The NPS-UDC directs local authorities to provide sufficient development capacity in their resource management plans for housing and business growth to meet demand.

Development capacity refers to the amount of development allowed by zoning and regulations in plans that is supported by infrastructure. This development can be “outwards” (on greenfield sites) and/or “upwards” (by intensifying existing urban environments).

Sufficient development capacity is necessary for urban land and development markets to function efficiently in order to meet community needs.  In well-functioning markets, the supply of land, housing and business space matches demand at efficient (more affordable) prices.

What it requires

The NPS-UDC contains objectives and policies that local authorities must give effect to in their resource management decisions that provide direction on:

  • the outcomes that urban planning decisions should achieve
  • the evidence underpinning those decisions
  • responsive planning approaches
  • coordination between local authorities and providers of infrastructure.

Within these four, the NPS-UDC  targets the more challenging requirements for urban areas experiencing the most significant growth.

Guidance on implementation

See the Introductory guide to the National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity 2016 which is the first in a series of guidance publications to be released on the NPS-UDC.

Further information

For further information on the NPS-UDC and the implementation programme, please contact the Ministry for the Environment by email: npsurbandevelopment@mfe.govt.nz

Related publications                    

Section 32AA evaluation report

Regulatory impact statement (final)

Recommendations and decisions report

Summary of submissions report

A way forward for national direction - 2016

The Productivity Commission’s inquiry into Using land for housing [New Zealand Productivity Commission website]