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?
The first set of National Planning standards came into force in November 2019. The purpose of the National Planning standards is to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the planning system by providing nationally consistent structure, format, definitions, noise and vibration metrics, electronic functionality and accessibility for regional policy statements, regional plans, district plans and combined plans under the RMA. .The intention is that this will make council plans and policy statements more efficient and easier to prepare and use. 5189
Most aspects of the National Planning standards are mandatory; this means that they must be adopted. Amendments to plans and policy statements are either primary (meaning a direct change to the plan/policy statement that is required by the standards) or consequential. Primary or consequential changes can be done without using a public process in Schedule 1 of the RMA, however, any changes not directly related to the standards still require a Schedule 1 process. For example, regional policy statements, regional plans, and district plans must adopt the structure provided in Tables 2, 3 and 4 respectively, and the relevant accompanying directions. Mandatory structures are also included for combined plans. Certain definitions and abbreviations are identified and must be used. A complete list of National Direction Tools, such as the NZCPS are required to be included and can be augmented if the relevant authority thinks this is necessary.
Some aspects of the National Planning standards take the form of guidance, being prefaced with an opening statement like “matters to consider for provisions under [relevant section] heading:” followed by a list of potential matters. An example of is the list of possible matters to include relating to engagement with tangata whenua and mana whenua.
The National Planning standards also identify the specific zones that are to be used in district plans.
It is important for those participating in plan-making processes to have an understanding of the National Planning standards as they will inform some aspects of what is able to be included or the way in which it can be included.
Different timeframes apply to different councils and documents. The Implementation Standard of the National Planning standards specifies the timeframes that apply to the first set of standards. A break-down of these is provided here.
The first set of National Planning standards can be found here.
Section 58C, RMA
Section 58I, RMA
Section 58D and 58E, RMA
Last updated at 3:20PM on August 23, 2021