The Government’s new National Policy Statement on Urban Development comes into force on 20 August and is just one of several significant legislation and national policy changes affecting urban development. In the article below, our General Manager - Urban Development, Andrew Collins explains the changes that will impact HG’s clients and their projects.


The recent burst of legislative activity in the urban development field is of importance for all New Zealanders. There is enough content in the new legislation, national policy and other proposed reforms outlined below, to herald a real step-change in the way we plan and develop our communities. So, brace yourselves and buckle in, as the next few years will be busy with lots of change.

Legislation now in force - or very close

- New National Policy Statement on Urban Development 2020, gazetted on 23 July - key details outlined below
- Resource Management Amendment Act 2020 – new freshwater planning processes
- Covid-19 Fast Track Consenting Act 2020 – received Royal Assent on 8 July
- Urban Development Act 2020 – passed Third Reading, awaiting Royal Assent.

Imminent - expected before the election

- New National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management - expected to be gazetted in August.

Reform under discussion but a while away - next electoral cycle

- Resource Management Review Panel report (Randerson Report) released late last month; the main recommendation being to repeal the Resource Management Act (RMA) and replace with a Natural and Built Environments Act and a Strategic Planning Act. At this stage it appears that both the main political parties are committed to RMA reform so – after some 30 years and much tinkering of the RMA and numerous special purpose Acts set up to bypass it – it finally looks like something substantial could happen in the next three years.


The new National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) comes into force on 20 August.

It contains major provisions with the potential to significantly change urban form and drive housing affordability, housing intensification and public transport outcomes. It is highly relevant for HG public and private sector clients involved in urban development, which is why we’re exploring it here in detail, ahead of the other reforms outlined above.

National policy statements are important. For anyone unaware of what a national policy statement means, sections 62, 67 and 75 of the RMA state that regional policy statements, regional plans and district plans must give effect to national policy statements. Furthermore, section 104 of the RMA states that consent authorities must have regard to national policy statements when considering resource consent applications.

The new NPS-UD is very helpful for urban development projects. It has eight objectives, 11 Policies and a raft of implementation directives.

It identifies:

- 19 local authorities located in and around five main urban areas (Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch) as Tier 1 urban environments
- 17 local authorities located in and around nine other urban areas (Whangarei, Rotorua, New Plymouth, Napier, Hastings, Palmerston North, Nelson/Tasman, Queenstown and Dunedin) as Tier 2 urban environments
- All other urban areas as Tier 3 urban environments.

The NPS-UD requires, amongst other things, that:

- Housing and Business Development Capacity Assessments must be prepared/updated every three years for all Tier 1 and 2 urban environments (prepared jointly by the local authorities in each area); and
- Future Development Strategies must be prepared every six years for all Tier 1 and 2 urban environments (prepared jointly by the local authorities in each area).

Key provisions

- Car parking - Plan changes in all urban areas (Tier 1, 2 and 3) to remove car parking requirements in any zone, other than for accessible car parks. There will still be parking standards (dimensions, manoeuvring etc) for when developers choose to provide parking.
- Building heights - Plan changes in each Tier 1 and 2 urban environment to enable building heights of at least six storeys in and around (within walkable catchments of) city centre and metropolitan centre zones. There is some limited provision for local authorities to modify this - subject to evaluation - for some qualifying matters such as historic heritage, outstanding landscapes, safe and efficient operation of nationally significant infrastructure, and so on. The requirements around densities are not dictated to the same extent but the objectives and policies are clear that plans need to enable more people to live in or near:

- a centre zone - which is defined to include all centres right down to neighbourhood centres;
- and areas served by existing or planned public transport.

The car parking plan changes must be made within the next 18 months without any First Schedule RMA process. The building heights and density plan changes have to be made within the next two years and will follow normal First Schedule RMA process.


As you can see from the opening list of key reforms in urban development, there are too many pending and current changes to fully detail within the confines of this article. However, we are keeping close to all the changes and look forward to helping you apply them. Please let us know if you would like to talk through the implications and impacts of these changes on your programmes and projects. Our planners and urban designers are standing by ready to assist you.

For more information, contact Andrew Collins, General Manager Urban Development

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