The Natural and Built Environment Bill and the Spatial Planning Bill have now been referred to the Environment Select Committee – with a deadline of 30 January for written submissions.
“This is a once in a generation planning reform. These Bills are hugely important for councils’ front and centre role in shaping the places we live,” says LGNZ CE Susan Freeman-Greene.
“We have a number of new mayors and councillors around council tables. Getting everyone up to speed with an 800 page Bill is a challenge at the best of times, let alone when many counsellors and mayors are just getting their feet under the desk. Many of them have only just completed induction and are coming to understand things like the bylaws, how to best work with their CEs and council staff as well of the range of reforms that will impact them. “
“LGNZ has raised the issue of timeframes with the Government in multiple ways and it’s frustrating for councils to feel like they’re not being listened to.
“This lands like a classic case of Wellington not understanding the realities on the ground.
“The submission period also falls smack bang in the middle of the Christmas holiday period, when many experts and planning staff who are integral to the submission process will be on leave during this time.
“To make sure that feedback on these Bills is robust, councils need enough time to thoroughly comb through the details and get their communities’ feedback.
“Timeframes for submissions go to the heart of creating a strong partnership with local government.
“If councils aren’t given the time needed to dissect the implications of the legislation for communities, the Government won’t get the benefit of truly listening to the people on the ground.
“Ultimately, they’ll face problems down the track, undoing months, if not years of good work,” Susan Freeman-Greene said.