National Planning Standards

What are national planning standards?

National planning standards are intended to reduce plan complexity and provide a home for national direction.  National planning standards can: 4490

  • Specify matters as if it was a national policy statement;
  • Specify objectives, policies, methods to be included in regional policy statements or plans;
  • Require local authorities to review a discharge, coastal, water or regional land use consent;
  • Specify the structure and form of regional policy statements and plans;
  • Direct local authorities to (a) use a particular structure and form for regional policy statements and plans, (b) include specific provisions in their policy statements and plans (c) choose from a number of specific provisions to be included in their policy statements and plans;
  • Specify where local provisions must or may be included in regional policy statements and plans;
  • Include requirements that relate to the electronic accessibility and functionality of policy statements and plans.

National planning standards can also set out whether they apply to all parts of New Zealand or to specific regions or districts, as well as timeframes for local authorities to give effect to the standards.

 What is the effect of national planning standards? 

The national planning standards will include mandatory directions, discretionary directions and other matters: 4491  

  • Mandatory directions set out specific provisions to be included in regional policy statements and plans. Regional policy statements and plans must be amended to carry out these directions without using the Schedule 1 plan making processes and within a specified time period.
  • Discretionary directions require a local authority to choose from a number of specific provisions. They can be applied to the local circumstances, but the content of the provision cannot be altered. Regional policy statements and plans must be amended to carry out these directions using the Schedule 1 plan making processes, with notification of plan changes occurring within a specified time period.
  • Other amendments to regional policy statements or plans required by the national planning statements must be made using the Schedule 1 plan making processes, with notification of plan changes occurring within a specified time period.

How are national standards prepared? 

The Resource Management Act requires the Minister for the Environment to: 4492

  • Prepare a draft national planning standard and a section 32 evaluation report;
  • Publicly notify the draft;
  • Establish a process that gives the public adequate time and opportunity to make a submission on the draft, and required a report and recommendations to be made to the Minister on those submission;
  • Consider the report and recommendations and carry out a section 32AA further evaluation;
  • Approve  the national planning standard - with or without any changes the Minister thinks fit – or withdraw all or part of the draft national planning standard; and
  • Give notice of the approval in the Gazette.

It is notable that no public hearing is required, and there is no power to appeal the Minister's decision. 

The first set of national standards must be approved no later than April 2019. 

What national planning standards are there? 

At the time of writing, no national planning standards were in force. 

  1. Section 58C, RMA

  2. Section 58I, RMA

  3. Section 58D and 58E, RMA

Last updated at 3:30PM on January 4, 2018