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Changes to New Zealand’s resource management legislation have been rejected by Hamilton councillors. They say it’s a fundamental loss of control for local government in being able to plan and deliver outcomes for its communities – and a step backwards for the country’s planning system.


At its first meeting of the year today (2 February), Hamilton City Council discussed its submissions to the Natural and Built Environment Bill and Spatial Planning Bill; two of three pieces of legislation that make up Government’s Resource Management reform. 


Hamilton Mayor Paula Southgate said although she acknowledges some reform is needed, the proposal in its current form doesn’t work for Hamilton.


“We know the current Resource Management Act isn’t perfect and we support the intention of the reform to simplify the process and create better outcomes for businesses, people and the environment,” she said.


However, Southgate said the strong feedback her Council had already given on whether the changes will achieve these outcomes has largely been ignored. 


“We’ve provided feedback at every opportunity given to us as they were developing the bills, and I’m disappointed there’s little evidence of that represented in the draft legislation. 


“Alongside our sub-regional and central government partners, we’ve been proactive in planning for Hamilton’s growth and protecting our shared environment across our borders through the Future Proof partnership. In fact, we’ve received praise from Government ministers for our planning being some of the best in the country. 


“The new legislation does not recognise this work, or the unique set of issues and opportunities high-growth cities like Hamilton and our wider metro area, are facing.” 


The submissions also raised issues around the cost of implementation of the rules, and a lack of integration with other government reforms. 


A smaller working group made up of Southgate, Deputy Mayor Angela O’Leary, and Councillors Ryan Hamilton and Ewan Wilson will finalise the submission before it is presented to the Environment Select Committee later this month. 


If Government continues with its current plans, the bills are expected to be passed into law before the end of this Parliamentary term.


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