top of page

SESSION THEME | Place-based Visions


Planning in the future environment of RMA (spatial planning) + NPSUD + UGA

Thursday 2 April, 

The Government is pushing major initiatives which will fundamentally affect planning practice - the comprehensive review of the RMA, implementation of the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPSUD), and the Urban Growth Agenda (UGA). The NPSUD and UGA in particular will make planners pay more direct attention to the economic drivers of growth and development, and apply 'spatial planning' principles and methods.

Stronger understanding of economics and spatial aspects should lead to better planning practice and outcomes, especially for cities. However, there is inherent conflict between the initiatives.

On one hand, the NPS and UGA imperatives to apply economic understanding have been caught up in a "less planning / more market" philosophy. The "must obey" provisions in the NPSUD and UGA themselves are being tied to evaluation tools (passed down from the NPS-UDC) which inevitably find that much more land is needed for urban growth - irrespective of sustainability and liveability outcomes.

On the other hand, sound spatial planning principles to identify efficient and sustainable patterns of economic activity to meet ecological, social and economic objectives, will place greater emphasis on location and timing of urban growth - more aligned with the RMA's sustainable management purpose.

The Hamilton to Auckland (H2A) corridor initiative offers an early case study, in which the drive to develop on a long inter-urban corridor by "leap-frogging" the urban growth boundaries - a la the NPSUD and UGA - has been evaluated from a 'spatial planning' perspective.

This paper provides an early example of planning in the RMA + NPSUD + UGA + spatial planning environment, to draw some practical lessons and consider key implications.

Presenter:  Dr Douglas Fairgray

Director, Market Economics Ltd

Douglas Fairgray has 40 years' research experience in urban economies, spatial economics and spatial planning.  He has led many projects using geographic and economic expertise to examine location patterns and spatial interactions, understand urban systems and growth patterns, transport and travel, and urban efficiency - notably in the s32 and NPSUDC contexts. A frequent expert witness in the Environment Court, he is a qualified hearings commissioner and a member of the RMLA national committee.

bottom of page