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Resource Management Reform- What’s Changing?

There is so much changing in planning at the moment- its hard to get your head around it all! You may have seen our recent blog series on the Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS) and National Policy Statement (Urban Development) (NPS(UD)) changes happening in August 2022. A bigger change is also coming up, with the replacement of the Resource Management Act (RMA). This is the first of our blog series looking at these changes, and how it may affect your development or your resource consent process.

Why is reform needed?

The reform is the result of an independent review by the Resource Management Review Panel. The review was the most wide ranging and detailed that has been undertaken on the Resource Management Act since it was enacted in 1991.

Many feel that the Resource Management Act has not delivered on its expected environmental or development outcomes- whether that’s the result of the implementation of the RMA by various practitioners, seemingly constant changes to the legislation or poor legislation itself is the topic of much debate in the industry. Its largely irrelevant now though, with central government already determining that the whole Act will be repealed and replaced.

What’s proposed?

It’s proposed to repeal the Resource Management Act and replace it with three new Acts. These are:

  • Natural and Built Environments Act (NBA), as the main replacement for the RMA, with the aim of protecting and restoring the environment while better enabling development,

  • Spatial Planning Act (SPA), which will require the development of long-term regional spatial strategies to help coordinate and integrate decisions made under the relevant legislation,

  • Climate Adaptation Act (CAA), related to the various and often complex issues associated with managed retreat.

There will be differences but also some similarities between these new Acts and the RMA. We’ll discuss some of the main points in blogs over the coming weeks. Everyone is hopeful that positive change will result, as there will undoubtedly be years of hard work and expense in becoming familiar with new requirements, restrictions , administration, drafting new plans and changing processes.

What’s the timing?

The replacement Acts will come into force at different times. The Natural and Built Environment Act (NBA) is the main piece of legislation in the reform package relacing the RMA, and is progressing first. An exposure draft of this has been released and the legislation is expected to be passed in the later part of 2022 (although this has been pushed back from original deadlines; not surprising given all the changes proposed at the moment). We’ll take a look at the contents of the NBA in next weeks blog.

The Spatial Planning Act (SPA), is expected, at this stage, to be progressed in 2022.

The Climate Adaptation Act (CAA) is being managed by the Climate Change Minister and is expected to be progressed after the NBA and SPA.

Want to know more?

This is the first in our blog series on RMA reform, including the Natural and Built Environments Act (NBA) and Spatial Planning Act (SPA). Find out more from our future blogs-

Hannah Thomson is Director of Planning Plusand has over 20 years of resource management experience working in both local government and the private sector. This includes five years at Rodney District Council in roles including Senior Planner and Team Leader. Hannah has a wide range of experience including commercial, rural, residential and coastal development and subdivision on small to large scales and appearances at both Council and Environment Court as an expert witness for mediation and hearings. Hannah has assisted Councils with policy development and has also assisted private individuals with submissions to Council.

Hannah holds the qualifications of BSc (Environmental Science) and Master of Applied Science (Environmental Management), is a Member (Int) of the New Zealand Planning Institute and Secretary of the New Zealand Planning Institute Auckland Branch Committee. Hannah is also a member of the Resource Management Law Association.


As with all our blogs this information is preliminary in nature only and we have used our best endeavours to ensure it is correct at the time of writing. It is not intended to substitute for your own investigations or obtaining specific advice on your proposal from professionals. Planning Plus LtdTM is not liable in any way for any errors or omissions.

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