Labour-led Government's five point programme to address New Zealand's urban
growth challenges could establish this Government as a change agent to rival
the first and fourth Labour governments, but more aggressive reform of
planning, governance and funding of urban growth and infrastructure will be
needed," says Stephen Selwood CEO of Infrastructure New Zealand.
Transport and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford confirmed his plans for
change last night at the Infrastructure New Zealand Annual General Meeting in
"The purpose of the urban growth agenda is to
achieve competitive urban land markets, where supply meets demand
and prices cover the cost of growth. Its five components to address
New Zealand's chronic tangle of over-regulation, under-funding and fragmented
- Infrastructure funding and
- A pro-growth planning system
- Road pricing
- Spatial planning by central and
- Legislative reform of the
Resource Management Act, Local Government Act and Land Transport
"The urban growth agenda signals a shift, not an end, in the way the
Government leverages private capital to promote public policy.
"New Zealand's established and highly successful PPP model will still be
considered for light rail and other transport projects, but the emphasis of
this Government will clearly be on attracting private investment to support
housing and wider urban development.
"The market will need to adjust, but the Government will also need to be
aware that a competitive market cannot be sustained without a visible pipeline
of potential projects.
"It is doubtful that the identified transport programme will be sufficient
to retain skills and investment in New Zealand without urgent action
to fill the void created by cancellation of the planned $1.5 billion East West
project in Auckland and various social housing initiatives.
"The Government's second point in its programme, to create a pro-growth
planning system, will be strongly welcomed by businesses frustrated by red-tape
and institutionalised complexity built into our current system.
"That's going to require reform of the three key planning Acts, the RMA,
LGA and LTMA. This is also on the Government's list of priorities, but Minister
Twyford confirmed that the Government still has a preference to retaining the
“Our very strong view
is that combined effect of planning system failure, complex local government
structures, tortuous decision making processes and inadequate funding are at
the root of New Zealand’s housing and infrastructure crisis.
"The desire to build off the past, rather than start afresh, is generally
preferable. However, the "effects based" approach at the very
heart of the RMA is the root cause of urban growth problems. It hands too much
influence to objectors and under-represents the benefits of good planning and
"A more proactive planning regime, with robust national spatial
planning and leadership, needs radically different institutions, processes and
"We look forward to working with the Government to advance these, but
are challenged to see how such transformation can take place within the
confines of existing statutes and local government structures and
"Finally, it is very encouraging to see the Government has recognised road
pricing as a key ingredient to managing urban growth and optimising the
"However, if adding capacity to the road and public transport network is
not part of every option to address need, we run the risk of establishing a tax
"Higher and higher prices will be needed to suppress travel, ultimately
delivering less public benefit. The purpose of road charges is to balance
revenue with incentives to optimise travel, not suppress it.
"Viewed as a package, the Government's urban growth agenda is potentially
revolutionary. If successfully implemented, Auckland and other growth cities
will for the first time in a generation be able to build enough homes and
infrastructure to support their population.
"All cities and towns in New Zealand will benefit from more
flexibility and a reset in our national attitude to growth. This is long
overdue," Selwood says.
For further information and comment contact
Stephen Selwood on 021 791 209