Waikato Regional Council wants to see a clearer division of roles for regional and local authorities, particularly when it comes to the regulation of land use to manage natural hazards, water quality, transport and infrastructure.
The council’s policy committee yesterday approved a report that will form the basis of the council’s submission to the New Zealand Productivity Commission, which is looking at how to improve regulatory performance and the allocation of regulatory functions between local and central government.
In his report, principal policy advisor Urlwyn Trebilco said local government reform needed to explicitly state the different roles of regional and local councils to avoid overlap of responsibilities.
“For example, territorial authorities, through their district plans, are responsible for establishing land use zones and granting subdivision and land use consents,” he said.
“The regional council is responsible for the integration of land use and infrastructure, and for the control of the use of land for purposes such as water quality management and natural hazard management.
“Regional councils also have important transport management responsibilities and there is a strong relationship between transport and land use management.
“Regulation of land use would be clarified significantly if regional councils had explicit responsibility for strategic, integrated land use management and transport and infrastructure planning.”
Committee chair Paula Southgate said streamlining planning documents would help reduce costs to the community and provide better linkages across environmental, economic, social and cultural objectives.
“Waikato Regional Council has anticipated many of these issues and is already working with other councils to rationalise regulation and has put forward a number of ways to streamline planning,” she said. “But we need legislative change to enable us to drive further improvements.”
The productivity commission’s draft findings and recommendations are due in December with the final report to be presented in April next year.