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1. Introduction

1 Introduction

This technical working paper is a companion to the discussion document: Building Competitive Cities: Reform of the urban and infrastructure planning system.

The discussion document provides options to address problems facing urban and infrastructure planning in New Zealand, while this technical working paper provides greater detail and evidence about those potential problems.

1.1   Purpose of this technical working paper

The purpose of this technical working paper is to:

  • develop a shared and improved understanding of the nature, scale and magnitude of possible problems facing urban planning and infrastructure development in New Zealand
  • provide a check that the options outlined in the discussion document address the right problems
  • seek public input and views on the potential problems.

The Government has not yet identified its preferred package of options and is seeking feedback on the issues identified, the options to deal with them, and whether any alternatives should also be considered. You are encouraged to consider how the options would operate together as a coherent system.

Your submission will help inform the Government’s decisions on which options to take forward.

1.2   Objectives of the RMII reforms

When RMII began, Cabinet agreed to the overarching objectives to achieve: “least cost delivery of good environmental outcomes:

  • providing greater central government direction on resource management
  • improving economic efficiency of implementation without compromising underlying environmental integrity
  • avoiding duplication of processes under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) and other statutes
  • achieving efficient and improved participation of Māori in resource management processes.”1

In investigating reforms specific to urban planning, Cabinet directed that matters to be addressed included:2

  • improving the link between housing affordability and land supply
  • improving the integrated growth management and infrastructure development
  • improving the quality of outcomes delivered by urban design and urban planning.

When applied to social and economic infrastructure, the Cabinet’s objectives translate to:

  • efficient, timely and high-quality infrastructure that contributes to quality of life and economic productivity, and avoids, remedies or mitigates adverse effects on the environment
  • a fair, equitable and efficient decision-making process that facilitates infrastructure development and promotes investment certainty.

1.3   Evidence base

This paper provides the main background evidence to support issues identified in the analysis of New Zealand’s current system for urban planning and infrastructure development. Where possible, the scale and magnitude of the problem is quantified. Where this is not possible, a qualitative description and assessment has been set out.

It is expected that information provided in submissions will help fill in some gaps and help reduce the limitations to the evidence base. For example, understanding the likely number and types of future projects and developments will help build our understanding of the scale and magnitude of any problems. In turn, this will help us understand the costs of not addressing a potential problem, and assess the likely benefit of intervention. It is, of course, likely that some limitations in the evidence base will not be able to be overcome. For example, we will need to recognise that large-scale urban and infrastructure projects are unique to their setting and the needs of the particular site and project.

1.4   Finding your way around the technical working paper

Chapter 2 of this paper describes the potential problems identified for planning and urban design, while chapter 3 covers possible issues for infrastructure project development.

The appendices provide background information and supporting explanation.

  • Appendix 1: Abbreviations used in this document
  • Appendix 2: Glossary
  • Appendix 3: The existing planning system for urban areas
  • Appendix 4: Differences between different types of urban planning
  • Appendix 5: Existing approval processes for infrastructure projects
  • Appendix 6: Assessing the options

1.5   How to make a submission

The Government welcomes your feedback on this technical working paper and the companion discussion document. Printed copies of the discussion document are available on request by using the contact details below. The document is also available electronically on the Ministry for the Environment (MfE, the Ministry) website:

The questions included in this paper are to guide your feedback. Broader comments are also welcomed. You may also raise other issues and/or only respond to some of the issues or questions. To ensure your point of view is clearly understood, and also to provide more evidence to support the Government’s decisions, you should provide reasons for your answers or in support of your position.

To make a submission, you can fill in the form included in the discussion document (by downloading a writable version from and emailing it back to us), or prepare your submission as a separate document. Submissions sent in hard copy should also be provided in electronic form (Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Word (2003 or later version) or a compatible format).

The closing time and date for submissions is 5:00pm on Friday 17 December 2010.

After receiving submissions, the Ministry will evaluate them and may, where necessary, seek further comments. After this, recommendations will be developed for Ministers, and then Cabinet, to consider.

Contact for queries and submissions

Please direct all submissions and any queries to:
Freephone:  0800 RMREFORM (0800 767 336) STD: +64 4 439 7794
Facsimile:    +64 4 439 7700
Postal:          RM Reform, PO Box 10362, Wellington 6143

Publishing and releasing submissions

The Ministry may publish all or part of any written submission on its website, Unless you clearly specify otherwise in your submission, the Ministry will consider that you have consented to website posting.

In any case, contents of submissions provided to the Ministry will likely have to be released to the public under the Official Information Act 1982 (OIA) following requests to the Ministry (including via email). Please advise if you have any objection to the release of any information contained in a submission, and, in particular, which part(s) you consider should be withheld, together with the reason(s) for withholding the information. The Ministry will take into account all such objections when responding to requests for copies of, and information on, submissions to this document under the OIA.

The Privacy Act 1993 establishes certain principles with respect to the collection, use and disclosure of information about individuals by various agencies, including the Ministry. It governs access by individuals to information about themselves held by agencies. Any personal information you supply to the Ministry in the course of making a submission will be used by the Ministry only in conjunction with the matters covered by this document. Please clearly indicate in your submission if you do not wish your name to be included in any summary of submissions that the Ministry may publish.

1. The Cabinet paper (April 2009) is available on the MFE website:

2. CAB Min (09) 34/6A refers.