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Published: 2009-07-17 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is to start preparing a change to the Regional Policy Statement (RPS) that will provide specific guidance on land use patterns and the limits of urban growth around Hamilton.

The change aims to give weight to Future Proof, an integrated growth management strategy involving Hamilton, Waipa, Waikato and Environment Waikato councils, together with tangata whenua, Matamata-Piako District Council and the New Zealand Transport Agency.

The regional council’s policy committee has agreed to change the current RPS, which is the region’s overarching planning document, providing policies and methods to achieve integrated management of natural and physical resources.

Policy committee chair Paula Southgate said the change to the RPS would put in place the overall urban and rural-residential land use pattern and urban limits for the Future Proof area.

“This will help manage the impact of urban growth on the environment and our productive land,” she said.

In a report to the committee, policy analyst Urlwyn Trebilco said it was expected the change would be notified in September 2009, and would align with the ‘second generation’ RPS, which would contain policies and methods to support good planning for urban and rural residential development in the Waikato region.

The committee heard that the change could not wait until 2010 when the new RPS is to be notified because Future Proof had no legal weight of its own and could only be given effect through policies and methods in the RPS and district plans.

As the councils were all about to prepare changes to their district plans, it was necessary to effect the RPS change to provide councils with a consistent framework for making decisions on a range of complex issues including future urban and rural land use, natural and cultural resources, roads and other infrastructure.