Christchurch City Council is raising concerns about draft legislation set to replace the Resource Management Act.
Elected members considered a submission on the exposure draft of the Natural and Built Environments Act (NBA), released by the Government last month, at today’s Finance and Performance Committee meeting.
Individuals and groups wanting to make their own submissions on the draft legislation have until 4 August.
The NBA proposes doing away with existing district plans – in place to manage development and guide what activity can happen where – and replacing them with regionally-based National and Built Environment Plans. The regional plan will be created by new Planning Committees, which will also determine the environmental limits for that region. Decision making will be via independent hearings panels.
Finance and Performance Committee Chair Andrew Turner says while it is good to have the opportunity to give feedback there is still a lot of information missing on how the legislation will actually be implemented.
“We need to see much more detail. We agree with the aims of the NBA to protect the environment and enable development within limits but have doubts the current draft will achieve this.
“There is huge uncertainty about the role of councils in developing Natural and Built Environment Plans. While we don’t oppose there being a single plan for Canterbury, there should be an ability for directly affected councils to have the role of drafting chapters for their districts. This is vital as the needs of Christchurch are quite clearly different to some other parts of the region.”
The Council is also concerned about decision making being removed from affected communities, the new system imposing increased costs on local government, the inadequate recognition of the need for cities to be liveable, the lack of assurance around how the public will be able to give feedback on proposed developments and not enough direction given regarding natural hazards and climate change.
Cr Turner says Christchurch had experience of an Independent Hearings Panel process for plan development following the earthquakes and many people felt alienated by it.
“There are many learnings we could share with the Government on the process to help ensure the community’s voice continues to be heard.”
The Council does support the greater emphasis the new legislation puts on the Treaty of Waitangi, but says for this to be successful there needs to be sufficient funding for Iwi and Ngā Rūnanga engagement throughout the reform process.
“The Government needs to clearly articulate where funding responsibilities begin and end from a Crown perspective, and when local authorities will be accountable.”
Updated: A presentation about residential intensification was made by staff to the Urban Development and Transport Committee on 5 August. Interested members of the public can watch the presentation here.
The presentation covered the current rules and practices regarding intensification, as well as upcoming regulatory changes from central government including the Resource Management Act reforms and the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD) requirements.