Written by Ashwita Murphy, Planning Team Leader at Thomas Consultants and Imogen Trupinic, Senior Planner at Thomas Consultants
What is changing?
The Government has proposed an overhaul of the current Resource Management Act (1991) (RMA). A total of three acts will replace the RMA: Natural Built Environments Act (NBA), Strategic Planning Act (SPA) and Climate Adaptation Act (CAA). An exposure draft of the NBA was released for public consultation in June 2021 and submissions are currently underway. The current intent of the government is that the NBA will be implemented (and the RMA repealed) by the end of 2022. The implementation of the legislation will mean the rewriting of district and regional plans across the country. The NBA and the other acts will affect how all urban planners across the country work: this includes what resource consents will be required as well as how planners undertake their assessment of future developments. The proposed changes are of great interest to Thomas Consultants.
What are the purpose of these changes?
The purpose of this new legislation is to make a significant shift in current planning practice away from effects-based assessment to achieve outcomes-based assessment. What this means is that future resource consents will no longer be assessed on the basis of how good or bad the effects of any proposed activity, or general infringements to district and regional plan rules, are but rather whether the end result of that development will be considered a positive one as a whole.
The exposure draft has included a section clarifying Environmental Limits for future development on both the human and wider environmental scale. The very purpose of the Act states that development must comply with the environmental limits set out in this section. A further section on Environmental Outcomes which district and regional plans should seek to achieve is also provided.
Upholding principles of Te Tiriti O Waitangi
The NBA introduces a new concept: Te Oranga O Te Taio meaning that the interconnectedness of the natural environment between iwi and hapū and te taiao should be acknowledged. The intent of including Te Oranga O Te Taio is to uphold the principles of Te Tiriti O Waitangi on a deeper level, ensuring that consultation with mana whenua is undertaken upfront on the majority of consent applications for significant development.
Thomas Consultants will be watching this space closely and how these changes develop which will affect future developments across New Zealand. For any land development queries please contact us today.