Saturday, July 20, 2024

Canterbury Mayors ‘deeply disappointed’ in planning Bills timeframe

The Canterbury Mayoral Forum says it “deeply disappointed” in the timeframe given to Councils to make submissions regarding the Government’s Natural and Built Environment Bill and the Spatial Planning Bill.

The Forum, which represents 11 member Councils, has written to Parliament’s Environment Committee earlier to express its “deep concern and disappointment” with the inadequate timeframe to provide submissions on the Bills.

“The Forum strongly feels that the timeframe the Committee has set does not provide for communities to have a real say on these large and complex pieces of legislation,” said Mayoral Forum Chair, Timaru Mayor, Nigel Bowen.

The Forum has requested that the Committee revise the timeframe to the end of February 2023.

“As we note in our letter, the Minister for the Environment has said previously that the reform is a once-in-a-generation opportunity, and we must get it right. This legislation is too important to rush – if the timeframe of 30 January remains, we simply won’t get it right,” said Mayor Bowen.

The Spatial Planning (SP) and the Natural and Built Environment (NBE) Bills, which were introduced last week, will replace the 30-year-old Resource Management Act (RMA).

Environment Minister, David Parker says the two Bills will work together to cut red tape, lower costs and shorten the time it takes to approve new homes and key infrastructure projects.

“The current system does not work. It takes too long, costs too much and has not adequately protected the environment or supported development,” Minister Parker said.

“The existing system has made housing more expensive and contributed to a shortage of homes.

“There is an urgent need to address issues with the current RMA. The new system will be less complex and provide more certainty. It will address these long-standing issues, better protect the environment and save millions of dollars,” he said.

He said a draft National Planning Framework will be released when the Act is passed and will be in force in 2024. The first Regional Spatial Strategies are then expected to take about two years to complete.

“This legislation will now be given full six-month consideration by a select committee, and be passed into law next year, before the election,” Mr Parker said.

“I encourage everyone to get involved in the select committee process because the way New Zealand’s natural resources are managed affects us all.”

The 11 member councils of the Forum are Kaikōura District, Hurunui District, Waimakariri District, Christchurch City, Selwyn District, Ashburton District, Timaru District, Mackenzie District, Waimate District, Waitaki District (part of which lies within the Canterbury Regional Council area), and Environment Canterbury.

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