I hereby give notice that an ordinary meeting of the Auckland Development Committee will be held on:




Meeting Room:



Thursday, 15 September 2016


Reception Lounge
Auckland Town Hall
301-305 Queen Street


Auckland Development Committee









Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse


Deputy Chairperson

Cr Chris Darby



Cr Anae Arthur Anae

Cr Calum Penrose


Cr Cameron Brewer

Cr Dick Quax


Mayor Len Brown, JP

Cr Sharon Stewart, QSM


Cr Dr Cathy Casey

Member David Taipari


Cr Bill Cashmore

Cr Sir John Walker, KNZM, CBE


Cr Ross Clow

Cr Wayne Walker


Cr Linda Cooper, JP

Cr John Watson


Cr Alf Filipaina

Cr Penny Webster


Cr Hon Christine Fletcher, QSO

Cr George Wood, CNZM


Cr Denise Krum



Cr Mike Lee



Member Liane Ngamane



(Quorum 11 members)




Tam White

Democracy Advisor


12 September 2016


Contact Telephone: (09) 890 8156

Email: Tam.white@aucklandcouncil.govt.nz

Website: www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz




Auckland Development Committee

15 September 2016



ITEM   TABLE OF CONTENTS                                                                                        PAGE


14        Productivity Commission's Better Urban Planning draft report                             5   



Auckland Development Committee

15 September 2016



Productivity Commission's Better Urban Planning draft report


File No.: CP2016/19709





1.       The purpose of this report is to seek endorsement of Auckland Council’s submission to the Productivity Commission (“the commission”) in response to its Better Urban Planning draft report.

Executive summary

2.       The Productivity Commission released its Better Urban Planning draft report on 18 August.  The council’s response to the commission is due on 3 October and is set out in the draft submission (Attachment A).

3.       The main purpose of the Productivity Commission’s inquiry is to “review New Zealand’s urban planning system and to identify, from first principles, the most appropriate system for allocating land use to support desirable social, economic, environmental and cultural outcomes”. The inquiry is not intended to provide a critique of previous or on-going reforms to the legislation that make up the urban planning system.

4.       The Productivity Commission’s Better Urban Planning inquiry is being undertaken in the context of significant central government urban planning reform including: the Better Local Services work programme; Resource Management Act reform; a natural resource sector agencies review of the resource management and planning system; and its implementation of the work programme arising from the commission’s previous Using Land for Housing inquiry.

5.       The inquiry’s final output will be a report to government identifying a range of alternative models for the urban planning system and a framework against which current practices and potential future reforms in resource management, planning and environmental management in urban areas will be assessed.

6.       Overarching themes in council’s draft submission are: 

           i.    The inquiry occurs in the context of significant ongoing urban planning reform.  Council is concerned about the integration, phasing and coherence of that reform programme.  Council accepts changes are required but change has costs and council wants to ensure that the gains from any reforms outweigh the costs it will impose.

          ii.    The Auckland Unitary Plan has better enabled development capacity: the focus now needs to move to funding and delivering infrastructure and development.

         iii.    Funding large scale growth poses significant challenges.  A broad range of tools need to be available to support growth but decision-making on when those tools are used needs to lie with local rather than central government.

        iv.    Council values the wider contribution urban planning can make to broader goals of community well-being, resilience and prosperity.

         v.    Criteria for assessing current and future planning reforms should support the treatment of urban planning as a system, should enable focus on planning for future funding challenges and should enable informed decision making and public engagement.

        vi.    The commission approaches land use from a siloed perspective that is fundamentally inconsistent with our experience of urban planning in practice and which is also inconsistent with Te Ao Māori.

       vii.    Some of the commission’s recommendations have significant unexamined impacts for Māori as a Treaty partner, and may limit interests of Māori. 




That the Auckland Development Committee:

a)      endorse Auckland Council’s submission to the Productivity Commission’s Better Urban Planning inquiry draft report.

b)      authorise the Committee Chair, Deputy Chair and a representative from the Independent Māori Statutory Board to finalise and approve the council’s submission on the Productivity Commission’s Better Urban Planning draft report. 



Better Urban Planning Inquiry


7.       In November 2015, Ministers Bennett, Smith and English instructed the Productivity            Commission to undertake an inquiry into the urban planning framework.  This review is      known as the Better Urban Planning inquiry (the inquiry).

8.       The inquiry builds upon the commission’s previous Using Land for Housing inquiry in 2015 and picks up on the commission’s key message to government arising from that inquiry: if    government wants to see substantial improvements in the land supply system more      fundamental changes than those explored in the Using Land for Housing inquiry would be         required.

9.       The inquiry terms of reference identifies the following additional drivers:

i.    the costs, complexity and uncertainty associated with the interaction of planning processes under the Local Government Act, Resource Management Act and Land Transport Management Act;

ii.    differences in purposes, timeframes, processes and criteria within the above law;

iii.   the impacts of these laws on the productivity of the wider economy;

iv.  the piecemeal fashion in which the current urban planning system has evolved; and

v.   evolution of international best practice in urban planning.

10.     At a high level, the scope of the inquiry involves identifying options to align the priorities of actors and institutions within an urban planning framework, making provision for sufficient current and future urban development and enabling alignment between national and local priorities and identifying opportunities for improvement. A critique of previous or on-going reforms to the legislation that make up the urban planning system is specifically excluded from the inquiry.

11.     Submissions on the commission’s draft report close on 3 October and its final report will be tabled in Cabinet by 30 November.

Auckland Council’s response

12.     Council has worked with Auckland Transport and Pānuku Development Auckland and has consulted with Watercare Services Limited to develop this response.  Auckland Transport intends providing a separate letter in support of Council’s submission to be appended to the wider submission and Watercare will provide a separate submission to the Productivity Commission. 

13.     Key positions in the council’s draft submission are as follows:

i.        Land supply in Auckland has been better enabled under the Unitary Plan; the focus now needs to move to funding and delivering infrastructure and development.


ii.       The council values the wider contribution of urban planning can make to broader goals of community well-being, resilience and prosperity. The council does not support the commission’s proposed narrowing of spatial planning to focus on issues closely related to land use.

iii.      The council supports spatial plans being given more legislative weight in relation to unitary or district plans (Recommendation 9.1) 

iv.      The council has concerns about the amount of central government reform underway and the lack of clarity surrounding integrated implementation of the planning framework the reform programme may produce.

v.       The council agrees with the commission that “a future planning system should only apply rules where there is a clear net benefit [of doing so], and where the link to the [benefits or costs] are clear”.

vi.      The council disagrees with the commission that the planning system should only be used “where alternative approaches are not feasible” i.e. as a policy instrument of last resort.

vii.     The cost of funding Auckland’s infrastructure is a key challenge. The council needs a broad range of tools to enable it to tailor funding approaches and manage demand for services in order to maximise efficient provision and use of our existing and new infrastructure.

viii.    The commission approaches land use from a siloed perspective that is fundamentally inconsistent with our experience of urban planning in practice and which is also inconsistent with Te Ao Māori.

ix.      Some of the commission’s recommendations have significant unexamined impacts for Māori as a Treaty partner, and may limit interests of Māori. 

x.       The council considers separating planning from environmental protection law within an urban planning context could simply exacerbate existing legislative misalignments and lead to the further deterioration of the environment.  The council has significant concerns about how either of the urban planning legislative frameworks that the commission proposes could be implemented in practice (Question 13.1) 

xi.      Broadly, the council does not support the introduction of a government policy statement on environmental sustainability. Within the commission’s proposal to introduce a government policy statement on environmental sustainability, council could support the provision of additional central government guidance enabling the establishment of standardised methodologies and environmental reporting processes.  However, the council has concerns about a number of other aspects of the proposed government policy statement including how “environmental lag times” could be taken into account, and how national priorities are reflected in a local context (Recommendation 8.1).  

xii.     The council does not support the proposed central government override powers in relation to:

local plan making in limited (unspecified) circumstances (Recommendation 7.1)

enabling central government to require common land use approaches to addressing specific issues (Recommendation 7.1)

enabling central government to instruct council infrastructure units to deliver infrastructure where a pre-set price trigger is reached between developable and undevelopable land (Recommendation 7.1).


          xiii.         The council does not support the introduction of a permanent independent                            hearings panel (Recommendation 7.7).  The council suggests the commission                      consider the use of the council-led commissioner model currently enabled under                           the Resource           Management Act as an alternative model.

          xiv.           The council does not support shifting regulatory responsibilities for environmental      monitoring and compliance away from councils to an independent authority, such                         as the Environmental Protection Agency (Question 13.2). 

          xv.            The council does not support increased external audit and oversight of councils’                     environmental monitoring (with some type of trigger enabling central government                   intervention if a council’s performance was consistently poor over time). The                          council suggests that further analysis be undertaken to identify if there is a link                       between compliance efforts by councils and poor environmental outcomes                             (Question 13.2).

          xvi.           The council supports further investigation into the potential for using adaptive                          environmental management tools. Widening the environmental management toolkit                      and providing the discretion to use the best tool for each given situation or enabling                       a combination of approaches to be used would allow a more flexible and                                         responsive approach, and enable the approach to be tailored to address complex              local environmental issues (Question 8.2).


          xvii.        The council supports giving councils flexibility to select the most appropriate    consultation tool for dealing with the issue at hand and better enabling the full         spectrum of interests to be understood in council decision-making processes and             improving transparency of decision-making. The council considers restricting other         participation would undermine the exercise of local democracy (Recommendation         7.6).

xviii.  The council supports the commission’s findings and recommendations on financing and funding infrastructure. The council also endorses the potential use of alternative funding mechanisms, in particular targeted rates “to fund infrastructure investments where benefits are well defined” (Recommendation 10.2). The council supports being able to access a broader range of funding tools, this could include the use of road pricing in the form of congestion management tools and the ability to use public private partnerships.

xix.    The council suggests an evaluation of the existing use of transferable development rights in Auckland.  This may be useful to assess the merits and possible impacts of the commission’s proposed approach to transferable development rights (Question 10.4). The use of this tool could have considerable implications for the operation of the Unitary Plan.

xx.     The council supports recommendations to build local and central government capability (Recommendation 9.2 centre of excellence, Recommendation 12.2 central government urban planning and local government sector capability building, Recommendation 12.1 environmental science, economics and engagement with Māori). 

xxi.    The council can see some merit in developing a shared process to assess infrastructure investment programmes although questions the need for institutions or formal processes in all circumstances (Recommendation 9.3). The council lends this support subject to any learnings from the Auckland Transport Alignment Project becoming available. The council recommends that the ability for councils and central government to engage on key infrastructure also remains available outside of the proposed mechanism.

xxii.   The council proposes the commission reconsiders the idea of “concept designations” or other mechanisms/tools for the protection of routes for infrastructure investment to support future growth.  Auckland Transport supports enabling the introduction of “concept designations” approaches. 

xxiii.  The council proposes the commission also considers options for improving the workability of the Public Works Act, particularly where there may be opportunities to improve outcomes for both affected landowners and public bodies.

xxiv.  The council proposes more work could be undertaken to address current misalignments within the three key planning acts.


Local board views and implications

14.     The approach in the commission’s draft report is to consider changes to the national urban planning framework.  Their proposed changes are described at a very high level and many of the proposals require a lot more clarity before both the national, regional and local impacts can be fully understood.  

15.     Local board chairs were invited to attend the workshop with the Auckland Development Committee. Copies of the materials circulated in preparation for the workshop were also circulated to all local board members. 

16.     Any local board resolutions received will be appended to Auckland Council’s submission.

Māori impact statement

17.     The commission asks a number of questions, which could limit interests of Māori in urban planning to papakāinga, streamlining the Resource Management Act with Te Ture Whenua, cultural impact assessments, what central government guidance should be provided to local government to recognise and protect Māori interests in planning, and the type of legislative provisions to be strengthened to provide for Māori participation in land-use planning. For reference see questions 11.1 to 11.15 in the draft report.

18.     The commission’s draft report does not specifically acknowledge where recommendations have implications for Māori.

19.     The commission’s draft report was distributed to mana whenua for feedback and staff attended a hui with mana whenua representatives on 31 August.  Staff identified the key issues discussed in council’s draft submission.  Mana whenua and mataawaka have been provided with a copy of the attached draft submission and a copy of council’s submission will be circulated once it is available.

20.     The commission’s suggested approach to separate the treatment of built and environmental urban planning matters is inconsistent with the wider more holistic perspective of Te Ao Māori.

21.     The underpinnings of some of the other recommendations in the report reflect a siloed approach to urban planning, which also seems at odds with a holistic Māori world view, such as a land use focus for urban planning where the interrelationships with other relevant legislative processes seem to be separate.


22.     The role of Māori as a Treaty partner in setting national direction at the central government             level is not clear, and there seem to be reduced opportunities for meaningful participation in      the proposed national Independent Hearings Panel processes both at the policy setting and            consenting stages. 

23.     These implications of the Commission’s draft report for Maori are significant, considering    that 85% of Māori reside in New Zealand urban areas.

24.     Feedback has been received from the Independent Māori Statutory Board and has been    integrated into the draft Auckland Council submission.







Auckland Council Draft Submission to Productivity Commission Better Urban Planning Draft Report






Toby Shephard - Strategic Advisor Strategic Scanning

Jennifer Davies - Principal Strategic Advisor Strategic Scanning


Jacques  Victor - GM Auckland Plan Strategy and Research

Jim Quinn - Chief of Strategy


Auckland Development Committee

15 September 2016