Govt doesn't get urban planning - report

(NZ Free)
(NZ Free)

The Government's come under fire in a new report for its hands-off approach to the urban planning process around how cities and towns are designed.

The report was released by the Productivity Commission - an independent Crown entity charged with providing advice to the Government.

The Commission is calling for new legislation to sit alongside the Resource Management Act specifically targeting how councils go about the urban planning process. 

The Labour Party hit the streets of Hamilton on Friday for a series of public housing meetings - an issue it says the Government is failing at. The new report agrees.

"I think this is a wake-up call for the current government who have used local councils as a kind of whipping boy, blaming them from all the ills of the housing crisis," housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says.

The report is damning and claims central Government needs to "improve its understanding of urban planning", saying it has "little knowledge or understanding of the local government sector".

It also says the Government has been "largely absent from land-use planning decisions" resulting in "harmful wider effects" including rising land and housing costs.

It's a major dressing down for the Government which has frequently criticised Auckland Council for its housing problems.

It's no longer a matter of choice or debate for those councils, land will be zoned residential and developed in quantity sufficient to meet demand.

But now the Commission says the Government is equally at fault.

"I think there's plenty of blame to be passed around. The Council is the one that's responsible for the planning, but Government needs to be there as well," Commission chairman Murray Sherwin.

"The central Government has a big interest in this and needs to be active and engaged and one of the points we make in our report is the capability in central Government to do that, the capacity to do that, is lacking.

The tables have now well and truly turned on the Government when it comes to housing.

After months of pointing the finger at the Council, an independent Crown entity whose job it is to provide advice to the Government, has pointed a stern finger back at the Beehive.