Better growing, everybody! Direction-setting in a messy environment

Greater Wellington is updating its Regional Policy Statement, with some bold direction-setting. It needs and deserves a general thumbs up from us the citizenry – do it by 5pm 14th!


TL; DR – tell me what to do while I wait for my coffee.

Good onya. Scroll to our faithful friend, the typing cat!


Greater Wellington has done a bunch of good things in its proposed changes to the Regional Policy Statement (“RPS” to its friends).

The RPS has some (theoretical) power to tell city and district councils what to do.

And one of the fundamentally good things being proposed for inclusion has got some backs up inside the officership of local councils. It’s to require new greenfield developments to have a Travel Demand Management (TDM) plan to prove they’re not going to induce huge amounts of private car driving.

I haven’t heard about this… Do I really need to submit?

You may not have noticed this consultation given all the election noise, and that the website says this consultation is largely aimed at feedback from other officials, not the public (why?). This is our one chance to have a say, as this is in the Streamlined Planning Process which has less chance for input.

So in the absence of active support, and with some very active complaint, our concern is that instead of being improved by this process of consultation, the fundamentally good provision will get watered down, in deference to local councils’… something. (We don’t know why some council officers, in the exercise of their public-good roles, fight so bitterly against this provision. All the reasons we can speculate are Not Good Reasons.)

So please, whack in a submission by 5pm on 14th October Friday!

Do it in 3 minutes by putting it in an email, subject line

submission on Regional Policy Statement Proposed Change 1

and sending to

regionalplan@gw.govt.nz

Put your address, phone number and name at the top and then put your riff on the below:

  • I support all councils ensuring that more homes doesn’t mean more emissions.
  • It’s ridiculous that in this day and age, traffic-inducing greenfield subdivisions of single-family detached houses are still the lion’s share of new homes being built.
  • Buildings, streets, roads, parks etc will be there for decades, and how well they’re done will profoundly limit (or enable) the people who live there. “Behaviour change” can’t do anything meaningful when the entire landscape is pushing against it.
  • There are plenty of reasons why it’s easier and more profitable to do traditional car-centric suburban greenfield. A key reason seems to be that councils, with current resources, are far less willing and able to provide for and process intensification than greenfield. And that’s why it’s extra important for councils – of all stripes – to do everything they possibly can to get good intensification for growth, rather than greenfield.
  • [Optional Note: I’m not opposed to greenfield that can pass the test of being founded on high accessibility, not mobility, and whose movement network is very sustainable. But such a greenfield development will pass with flying colours a test like that proposed. It’s a “minimum performance” threshold, a floor, that’s important due to the prevalence of 1990s-era transport planning of the great majority of Wellington developments – including ones within minutes of growing railway stations.]
  • There may well be additional or different policy tools, besides TDM plans, that councils can use to ensure developments aren’t private-car-centric. I want to see these provisions strengthened, enhanced, made more sophisticated and more comprehensive rather than diluted.
  • I wish also to see councils’ planning, regulatory and consenting teams boosted and upskilled to become more comfortable and confident at doing “density done well” by intensification.
  • Finally, I support the provisions for uplifting Te Mana o te Wai, the Blue Belt, creating climate-resilient urban areas, and supporting biodiversity. These provisions, too, can be refined and enhanced but these are things that all councils, of all stripes, should be doing.

And you’re done! What a champion.


I’ve got more time, give me the detail

If you’d like to read more, brace yourself – the pages are really unintuitive and aimed squarely at other policy nerds not at the public.

These are the climate change-related bits that caught our eye (and apparently have angered some city / district council folks):

GWRC’s media team seem to have been intoxicated by the power and influence their organisation doesn’t really have, when they wrote the press release. Perhaps it was the grandiosity of some of the statements (implying GW will single-handedly bring emissions down to the levels in the regional Emissions Reduction Plan) that angered some local council folks… “goddammit, we know we shouldn’t but we’ll keep doing car-centric subdivisions JUST TO SHOW YOU CAN’T TELL US WHAT TO DO”.

But dammit, GW are right: we need to king-hit our emissions to stay under 1.5 degrees of climate heating, and the biggest and worst emissions contributor per household, anywhere outside Wellington city is…. land transport for ourselves. Driving around, in our private cars, doing daily life.

Storm surge on Wellington south coast, waves sweeping cars and utes around and smashing them into the road-front houses
A wee climate change appetiser – storm surge, Wellington south coast. Pic: Grant Maiden | Stuff

The single best way to reduce them is to stop people having to drive everywhere, to do the smallest things of daily life. (And no, you know about EVs.)

And, as TW readers will know so very well: density done well, people-friendly streets and handy access to all you need is JUST BETTER ALLROUND!

Better growing, everybody!


That’s it as far as submission guidance goes. Sorry we don’t have a “full banana” version of this submission guidance because we only just noticed this consultation was open!

If you’ve got some tips for other TW readers to make a richer submission, please either pop them in the comments or email us so we can share with like-minded others!

Get your submission in by 5pm on 14th October, that’s Friday TOMORROW!

  • The online submission form is here

Banner image: Greenfield subdivisions, Las Vegas (Govtech)

One comment on “Better growing, everybody! Direction-setting in a messy environment”

  • Victoria Mitchell says:

    This is awesome mahi!!! So funny and readable and motivating and accessible. That’s probably all your boxes of mission accomplished ticked!

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