national planning standards

The first set of National Planning Standards came into force on Friday 3 May 2019.

These standards were released by the Minister for the Environment to improve the consistency of council plans and policy statements. Specifically, the standards set nationally consistent structure, format, definitions, noise and vibration metrics, and electronic functionality and accessibility requirements for regional policy statements, regional plans, district plans and combined plans under the Resource Management Act 1991.

The implementation timeframes differ depending on the standard. For example, the standards for regional policy statements must be implemented within three years, for regional plans within ten years, and for district plans within five years for the standards and seven years for the definitions. District councils which have recently undertaken a plan change must implement the planning standards within seven years, and the definitions within nine years. These district councils are listed in the standards and include Christchurch City Council, Dunedin City Council, Invercargill City Council and Queenstown-Lakes District Council. There are different timeframes for councils implementing combined plans.

Despite these different timeframes, councils must implement the standards if they notify a new policy statement or plan after the standards come into effect.

Councils must also comply with the mandatory directions for basic electronic accessibility and functionality within one year, and with the mandatory directions for online interactive policy statements and plans within five years. With respect to the latter, the standards set longer timeframes for district councils which have recently undertaken a plan change, and councils with under 15,000 ratepayers.

The planning standards can be found on the Ministry for the Environment’s website at: