The Government’s reform of the Resource Management system is progressing at pace with three new Bills expected to replace it by the end of 2022.

As many of you will be aware, the Government is proposing to repeal the existing Resource Management Act and replace it with three new pieces of legislation:

  • Natural and Built Environments Act (NBA)
  • Spatial Planning Act (SPA)
  • Managed Retreat and Climate Change Adaptation Act (CAA)

The reforms will result in significant changes to the existing resource management system, and will have a number of implications for councils, particularly in respect of planning processes and decision-making.

High-level process and timing

We anticipate that in June the Government will introduce an exposure draft of the NBA to the House, for referral to a special select committee process. The exposure draft will set out the structure of the NBA and its key purpose provisions.

More detailed work to develop the complete NBA Bill, and the SPA and CAA, will be undertaken over the coming months. Those Bills are due to be referred to select committee at the start of 2022.

The three Bills are expected to be passed by the end of 2022.

Areas of interest for Taituarā

While Taituarā has an interest in the policy settings that the Government is developing, our primary interest is in what the reforms will mean for councils in a practical sense. We’re interested in how the changes will be implemented; what the changes mean for existing council plans and processes; how councils will transition to the new system and how central government will support the transition; and how, and by whom, the transition and necessary changes to existing systems and processes will be resourced. We’ll be looking at the consequences of the reforms for the way councils go about their day-to-day business, and how they’ll need to adapt.

We know that the success of any system change depends on how it is resourced and implemented, so we’ll be advocating strongly for the changes and support that councils need most to make the transition to the new system workable, efficient and cost-effective for their communities.

We’ll continue to work closely with LGNZ on areas of mutual interest, and are also liaising with the New Zealand Planning Institute.

Engagement with central government

Cabinet has agreed that select committee processes are the main mechanism for engagement with local government.

However, we’re continuing to engage with central government officials on a regular basis, to keep updated on and contribute to the reforms as they progress, and to encourage and input into opportunities for local government engagement. We’re actively highlighting the importance of central government focusing on how the transition to and implementation of the new system will be supported and resourced. We’re also highlighting the need for councils to be provided with clarity around how to manage and prepare for the transition to the new system now (i.e. how to manage reviews of existing plans) with some urgency.

Recognising the important role that councils will play in transitioning to and implementing the reforms, the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) and the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) have recently convened a Local Government Forum of Chief Executives to provide input into policy development. Taituarā continues to engage with the Local Government Forum, which has now met twice. We also understand that central government officials are engaging informally with a small group of mayors, and are looking to establish additional reference groups to support their work over the coming months.

Resource Management Reform Discussion Group

We have now set up a dedicated Resource Management Reform Discussion Group.

This is a place for members to share their perspectives on the reform proposals, raise any concerns and ask questions. This will be a key channel through which we will keep you updated as the reforms progress.

If you would like to subscribe to the RMREFORM group, please follow these instructions.

Taituarā has agreed to share common themes and issues that emerge via the Discussion Group with MfE and DIA officials. We have also agreed that Taituarā will coordinate responses from central government to any questions commonly asked by Discussion Group members.

Resource Management Reform Reference Group

We are in the process of establishing a Resource Management Reform Reference Group (RMRG) to assist the local government sector to contribute to the reform of the resource management system by identifying issues with the potential to impact on local authorities, and to support local government’s transition to, and, implementation of the new system.

An email will soon be sent inviting applications for membership of that group. Keep an eye out for that.

If you have any questions about the resource management reforms and/or the work Taituarā will be doing to support the sector to engage in the reform process, please feel free to contact Grace Hall, Senior Advisor – Sector Improvement.