Prior to Christmas we asked members to participate in a survey about the draft NBEA and SPA bills that are currently open for submission under the select committee process. This was a particularly long survey covering some significant issues and we’re thankful to those who took the time to participate. The results of this survey are now in and have been collated and are being reviewed by the RM Advisory Group.

There is general support for change, with a number of areas of the bills being either strongly supported or strongly opposed by the membership. This is helpful. Having robust and meaningful feedback will assist the RM Advisory Group in developing a pragmatic position that is generally representative of NZPI members, which will form the basis of NZPI’s submission to the select committee.

Some key highlights raised in the survey are grouped in sections below:

Section 1: Purpose and preliminary matters

Survey respondents had an overall positive response to the purpose of the bill and preliminary matters, with the exception of the removal of amenity values. This had a strong negative response from survey participants.

Section 2: Duties and Restrictions

The response to the change in the effects management direction and change to existing use rights was very mixed, although positive overall. The response to the reduction in the ‘discontinued’ time period for existing use rights was strongly negative.

Section 3: National Planning Framework

The survey found there was a generally positive response to the proposals for the NPF. Strong support was expressed for limits and targets being set in the NPF rather than NBE Plans, the use of limits for managing urban issues, and the use of resource consent conditions that apply an adaptive management approach. The response to exemptions to limits and the effects management hierarchy was very mixed. Some questions had high ‘neutral’ and ‘don’t know’ responses, which may indicate a degree of uncertainty or scepticism about how those NPF proposals will work, or a lack of understanding of the proposals.

Section 4: Regional Spatial Strategies

There was overall support from survey respondents for the spatial planning proposals, alongside strong support for making two particular changes: introducing appeals to the Environment Court for RSSs and introducing a time limit for preparing and deciding on RSSs. There was weak support for making it compulsory for the Minister to appoint a government representative to RSS committees. There was strong opposition to the optional nature of hearings on RSSs, suggesting another change to make hearings compulsory. Most questions had a high ‘don’t know’ response, which likely indicates uncertainty or a lack of understanding of the spatial planning proposals.

Section 5: Natural and built environment plans

The survey found that there was general support for the NBE Plan-making proposals. In particular, support was expressed for the requirement to have allocation methods in plans, for the requirement for evidence to be provided with submissions, and for the role for the Chief Environment Court Judge in overseeing the appointment of Independent Hearings Panels. Support for other aspects of the proposals, such as enduring submissions, the two-step formal notification process, timeframes for plan preparation and hearings, and statements of community outcomes and statements of regional environmental outcomes, received weak or mild support, indicating a mix of positive and negative responses. There was a very strong positive response to the importance of transparency in how a Regional Planning Committee responds to feedback on the major regional policy issues, suggesting a change is required to the Bill to ensure this is the case. The matters to be disregarded when preparing a plan received a weak negative response, indicating another matter of mixed responses.

Section 6: Resource consents

Most of the survey responses showed mild or weak support for the consenting proposals. There was mild support for the new notification purpose and affected party criteria, while respondents consider the removal of the minor notification test and associated case law will be significant or very significant. This suggests that although the removal of minor is a significant change, there is a degree of optimism among respondents regarding the alternative notification and affected party tests. There was high variability in the response to whether new names are needed for the two activity categories, as well as for considering the applicant’s track record when deciding to grant an application, with a high neutral response in both cases, indicating diverse opinions on these two matters. There was a strong negative response to the removal of the permitted baseline. There was a strong positive response to the provision for Permitted Activity Notices.


The RM Advisory Group are considering the feedback in this survey, along with the feedback we’ve received via our reform roadshow events, the reform email address, and ongoing anecdotal feedback from members. NZPI has an extension to the 5th February submission deadline, until 19th February. It will be a busy few weeks as practitioners have their first formal opportunity to respond to the detail of this significant resource management reform in New Zealand.