Seeking member feedback on the development of National Planning Standards

MfE is seeking input to the first set of National Planning Standards (the standards). The development of the standards has arisen out of the recent Resource Legislation Amendment Act (2017). They are expected to deliver a common framework and some standardised material for planning documents – plans will still be able to reflect local circumstances and community preferences. Implementation of the standards will be from 2019 onwards.

Water New Zealand will be putting in a submission at the end of July and attending an MfE workshop in June to shape the initial phase. We are seeking your input to inform this work.

A common structure for planning documents is proposed with common content to be included in some areas (for example, to support national direction)

A more vertically integrated structure is proposed. That is, first by high level topic, then by zone or issue, then all the objectives, policies and methods grouped together for that zone or issue. It is also proposed that planning documents be streamlined by including some common content (e.g. related to national direction) and excluding some content that will instead be provided outside the plan as supplementary information for users (i.e. how to apply for a resource consent). A common approach to spatial layers and planning zones is also mooted. These changes are expected to make plans more user friendly, improve consistency (including in the implementation of national direction) and provide a clearer line of sight between objectives, policies and rules.

  • Water New Zealand could note that these changes are positive and common sense.
  • It could be pointed out that work to consolidate and review the effectiveness of the suite of supplementary information (to go outside the plan) could also be beneficial where it made sense to do that nationally. The relevant MfE discussion document is here (see page 9-10).

Technical guidance supporting national direction is to be excluded from the first set of standards.

Excluding this material outright from the first set of standards would be a missed opportunity given the current need to improve the accessibility and uptake of technical material. While it would take more effort up front, it could deliver efficiency benefits if focused on priority areas.

  • What areas related to 3 waters (if any) would particularly benefit from having technical guidance in support of national direction included in the first set of standards?

Common definitions and metrics are to be developed but water related terms have been excluded.

This is because the choice of criteria used to prioritise the work more strongly weighted definitions and metrics found in district plans compared to those found in regional plans and policy statements.

  • Water New Zealand could suggest that definitions related to water management and metrics related to discharges and water takes would be worth the effort in the first set of standards because it could support improved efficiency in three waters consenting processes, support implementation of the NPS-FM, and deliver benefits to the variety of end users of regional planning documents. These are all opportunities that would be missed by delaying work until the second set of standards.
  • Water New Zealand could advocate for work on priority definitions and metrics that would contribute to a better planning environment for 3 waters matters. It would also make sense to build on other initiatives such as the National Environment Monitoring Standards (NEMS).
  • What water related definitions and metrics would be worthwhile for the national planning standards work to focus on? Click the links for the MfE discussion documents that outline the definitions and metrics that are proposed.

Please provide any other feedback about how you think the national planning standards could support delivery of three waters services.

Your input is requested by the end of June.

Feel free to get in touch by phone or email.

Charlotte Cudby
Senior Policy Analyst
+64 4 495 0893