View all publications

Appendix 4: Differences between different types of urban planning

This appendix compares different planning approaches and terminologies used within New Zealand and in other countries:

  • land-use planning
  • Resource Management Act (RMA) planning
  • Growth Management or Urban Development Strategies
  • spatial planning.

Spatial planning is facilitating a change of emphasis by governments in the way they think about the role of planning to support and manage economic growth and improve quality of life through a growing understanding of the dynamics of development, including where and when it occurs. Spatial planning emphasises that planning can be more than the traditional regulatory and zoning practices of land use. 79

Table 4.1: Comparison between land-use planning, RMA planning, growth management/urban development strategy and spatial planning 80

Attribute Land-use planning RMA planning LGA Regional Growth/Urban Development Strategy Spatial planning
Purpose Regulating land use and development through designation of areas of development and protection, and application of performance criteria. Promoting the sustainable management of natural and physical resources – controlling adverse environmental effects from the use and development of renewable resources.

Some regulation of land use and development through zoning and protection, and application of performance criteria.
Growth/urban development strategies have emerged in recognition of the need to sustainably manage growth/development so that communities can benefit socially, economically and culturally while safeguarding resources for future generations. Their aim is to provide long-term guidance for the management of the urban environment. Shaping spatial development through the coordination of the spatial impacts of sector policies and decisions.

Considers economic, social and environmental effects of development.
Form Schedule of policies and decision rules to regulate land use for the administrative area.

Mapping of designation of areas and sites for development purposes.
Schedule of issues, objectives, policies and methods for the administrative area.

Mapping of areas (eg, residential zones).
Context, issues, objectives, policies and methods.

Methods are regulatory means of implementation
(eg, structure plans defining growth issues that relate to particular areas that need to be addressed in a plan change(s)).

Base map showing main roads, existing urban areas and local authority boundaries.

Maps are schematic.
Strategy identifying critical spatial development issues and defining clear desired outcomes across functional areas.

Visualisation of spatial goals and key areas of change.
Process Discrete process leading to adoption of final blueprint plan.

Confrontational process, instigated through consultation on draft plans and political negotiation.

Stakeholders use the process to protect and promote their interests.
Discrete process leading to adoption of final plan – option of plan changes.

Confrontational process, instigated through consultation on draft plans.

Stakeholders use the legal processes to protect and promote their interests.
Some information sharing, driven by debate on alternative development models as part of a collaborative process.

Key stakeholders may not be involved and/or have marginal involvement.

Development of indicators to monitor progress.
Continuous process of plan review and adjustment.

Mutual learning and information sharing, driven by debate on alternative development models as part of a collaborative political process.

Stakeholders use the process to achieve their own and mutual goals.
Ownership and policy community A document of the planning authority providing guidance to other professional planners promoting and regulating development. A document of the planning authority providing guidance to applicants on the regulation of development and mitigation of environmental effects. A corporate document of the local authority/some shared ownership with territorial authorities. A corporate document of the local authority in shared ownership with communities and other stakeholders, partnerships and NGOs.
Procedural safeguards Final plan determined through adversarial inquiry on parts of plan subject to objections. Final plan determined through adversarial Environment Court/appeals process on parts of (or the whole) plan subject to submissions. Final plan incorporated into RPS, which is notified. May change through adversarial Environment Court/appeals process on parts of (or the whole) plan subject to submissions. Final plan determined by inquisitorial examination of the soundness and coherence of the whole plan.
Methods Mapping of constraints and collection of sectoral policy demands.

Bargaining and negotiation with objectors and other stakeholders, informed by broad planning principles.

Checking of proposals through sustainability appraisal/strategic environment assessment.
Sets out issues, objectives, policies and methods.

Criteria-based approach.

Environmental effects are assessed.
Sets the scene and makes predictions for the future (ie, District Profile). Examines the current capacity of residential, commercial and industrial areas. Looks at possible new areas for development (ie, land-use zones).

Sets out a vision and how it fits with other council documents. Identifies issues and provides means of addressing these so that the vision may be achieved.

Sets out council’s philosophy for growth, proposes objectives, policies and methods.
Building understanding of critical spatial development trends and drivers, market demands and needs, and the social, economic and environmental impacts of development.

Analysis of options through visioning and strategic choice approaches.

Generation of alternatives and options assisted by sustainability appraisal/strategic environmental assessment.
Delivery and implementation Seeks to direct change and control investment activity in land use through prescriptive regulation, whilst mitigating local externalities through conditions and planning agreements. Seeks to manage/mitigate environmental impacts of change through prescriptive regulation and development contributions. Seeks to manage growth/development through influencing land-use regulation via local level plans/development contributions. Seeks to influence decisions in other sectors by building joint ownership of the strategy and a range of incentives and other mechanisms, including land-use regulation and planning agreements.
Monitoring and review Measures conformance of the plan’s policies and proposals with planning control outcomes.

Data provides portrait of plan area as general context for implementation of proposals.

Periodic but infrequent review of whole plan.
Periodic but infrequent review of whole plan. Formal evaluation may be commissioned/little monitoring.

Data beginning to inform development and testing of strategic choice options.

Periodic but infrequent review of whole plan.
Measures performance of the plan in influencing sector policy and decision-making.

Data informs understanding of spatial development and the application of the strategy.

Regular adjustment of components of plan around consistent vision.

79  Royal Town Planning Institute. 2007. Shaping and Delivering Tomorrow’s Places: Effective Practice in Spatial Planning. Report, findings and recommendations. Royal Town Planning Institute.

80  Adapted from: Communities and Local Government. 2006. The Role and Scope of Spatial Planning: Literature Review. HMSO, London.