It’s been a big week in planning. We saw the release of the Spatial Planning and Natural and Built Environment bills, already acronymised to SPA and NBEA. The release came out with the promise of better, faster, cheaper than the 30-year-old RMA. 

NZPI / Te Kōkiringa Taumata, alongside other experts, practitioners and politicians across the country are considering the detail in these bills, and how they shift us from the status quo. The bills can be found here:

Emily Grace, NZPI’s Principal Planner is busy working her way through her review of 861 sections of the NBA and its 15 Schedules, with a consultant planner, the RM Advisory Group, and NZPI’s Think Tank in support. It’s important that as practitioners responsible for implementing the legislation, planners have the opportunity to understand what it says and what it means in practice. Emily has found a few highlights so far and NZPI have been quick to put these out.

  • NIMBY-is out – e.g. effects from use of land by people on low incomes and effects of scenic views from private properties must be disregarded in plan and consent decisions (s223);
  • There’s a new enduring submission option for NBA Plans and evidence is to be provided with submissions (Schedule 7);
  • We’ve seen market-based allocation to determine rights to apply for some types of consents (s88).
  • No more ‘minor effects’ considerations – there is a new affected party test (s201) and changes to notification.

We’ve also been interested in other comments from within the industry - click here 

Next Steps

We expect the bills will have their first reading in parliament next week, after which they will be referred to select committee. The select committee is yet to set the timeframe for submissions, but we are anticipating this will stretch across the December/January statutory shutdown period. We are underway with our preparation for the submission, which over these first two weeks involves reviewing the bills, discussions with the RM Advisory Group on key issues, and briefing the NZPI Board at its meeting on Friday 2 December.

To get ready for this week, NZPI released a series of position papers on what it considers are key elements of reform; An Outcomes Based System, Spatial Planning, Regional Level NBA Planning and Consenting Under the New System. These papers reflected our broad position prior to the release of the bills. The papers were based on feedback and analysis, following ongoing collaborative engagement with members. We are currently checking how the bills measure up to the positions set out in those papers.

NZPI will partner with RMLA to host a national roadshow to discuss the bills. We’re planning to do this during the week starting Monday 5th December. A member survey on the proposed bills is also likely to be sent out early that same week. We’ll also be seeking feedback through your local branches, and the RM Reform email is always open at

Look out for dates and locations for our national roadshow and keep up the feedback and commentary. It's important we keep hearing from you