Feedback requested on the exposure draft of the Natural and Built Environments Bill

July 7, 2021

Kia ora

The government recently released an exposure draft of the Natural and Built Environments Bill (the Bill). The exposure draft has been referred to the Environment Committee to provide feedback to the government on the extent to which the provisions in the exposure draft will support the resource management reform objectives. The select committee is currently seeking public feedback as part of that process, with submissions closing on 4 August. The select committee’s report to Parliament is due in October. Changes will be made before the whole Bill is formally introduced to Parliament in the first quarter of 2022, followed by the usual select committee process.

We will make a submission on the exposure draft and would like to provide members with the opportunity to complete a short survey so we can capture your views in our submission. Please complete this survey by 11 p.m., Sunday, 18 July.

The survey can be accessed here.

The Parliamentary paper and the exposure draft of the Bill can be accessed here.


The resulting Natural and Built Environments Act will be one of three Acts to replace the Resource Management Act 1991 (the RMA), the others being the Strategic Planning Act and the Climate Change Adaptation Act.

The government is looking to pass the Bill by the end of 2022 and the other two pieces of legislation in 2023.

The Bill’s purpose and focus

The exposure draft covers land-use and environmental regulation and includes draft clauses on:

  • the Bill’s purpose and related provisions (Part 2)
  • a national planning framework (Part 3)
  • natural and built environments plans (Part 4).

A national planning framework

The Bill proposes that a national planning framework would have the effect of regulations, i.e. the government will be able to prepare, update or review the framework without going through the Parliamentary process as is the case when passing a Bill or amending an Act. One of the criticisms of the RMA has been that it has been too slow to react to new challenges like the housing crisis adequately. The national planning framework will serve as a key mechanism for the government to directly influence how well environmental outcomes – like housing supply and infrastructure – will be achieved.

The exposure draft also puts forward a list of indicative principles under Part 2, such as taking a precautionary approach and having particular regard to cumulative effects; one of the criticisms of the RMA has been its inability to account for cumulative effects adequately.

Natural and built environments plans

Another key proposal in the exposure draft is planning committees in each region to prepare natural and built environments plans. The proposal follows the Resource Management Review Panel’s proposal to develop one natural and built environments plan per region. The government has indicated it is still considering the best approach to plan preparation and decision-making. It will look to the feedback received from the select committee inquiry. Natural and built environments plans will consolidate over 100 RMA policy statements and regional and district plans into about 14 plans, which the government considers vital to simplifying and improving the integration of the system.

Please contact me at or 021 272 7879 to discuss further.

I encourage you to forward this email to others in your organisation.

Ngā mihi
Claire Edmondson
Chief Advisor