Federated Farmers Comments on Better Urban Planning Issues Paper December 2015

This Issues Paper does not define what an urban area is in a planning context. Does it broadly mean cities and towns? What about villages and other highly peopled living environments such as papakainga? Is an urban area defined by population e.g. ‘x amount of people in x area? Or, is it based on administrative boundaries that a regional council might use? Or, is it based on zoning in District Plans, or where reticulated district council infrastructure such as stormwater or mains water supply extend?

Statistics NZ has found that population alone does not reflect the characteristics that make places urban and rural areas similar or different and instead compares a persons’ usual residence with their work place address. It appears that many rural areas meet many of the criteria deemed relevant for inclusion within an urban area e.g: strong economic ties; cultural and recreational interaction; serviced from the core for major business and professional activities; integrated public transport network; significant workplace commuting to and from the central core; planned development with the next twenty years, as a dormitory area to, or an extension of, the central core.

Federated Farmers is wary of planning approaches which seek to separate urban and “other” landscapes. Neither society nor the natural environment works this way. Rural production activities are major industries in the areas surrounding our towns and cities. They support our urban centres by providing goods and services, income and employment. Rural ratepayers reply on, and pay a significant amount for, many urban based Council services and facilities. It is not clear from the Issues paper that these linkages are appreciated, but any future planning system needs to provide for them.