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Regional, district and city councils set out how they will undertake their functions in a range of planning documents. These include long-term plans, regional and district plans, infrastructure strategies, policy statements and growth strategies. These documents also identify the transport aspirations of local communities.

Land use and transport planning process

The Transport Agency works collaboratively with local government and key stakeholders to identify the best choice of transport systems for their communities, regionally and nationally. We contribute to the development of the following strategies and plans that local government is expected to deliver:

  • National policy statements and national environmental standards
  • Regional land transport plans
  • Regional policy statements and regional and district plans
  • Growth strategies and other strategic planning documents
  • Council long-term plans
  • Informal plans such as structure plans prepared by local government
  • Mode plans (walking and cycling)
  • Activity management plans
  • 30 Year Infrastructure Strategy
  • Decisions on plan changes and variations, applications for land use consents and notices of requirement for designations.

Case-by-case decisions are made on whether to submit on proposed plan changes and variations relating to specific developments, resource consent applications and notices of requirement.

Regional policy statements

Regional policy statements establish a council's broad direction and framework for resource management within its region. The statements play a key role under the Resource Management Act 1991 as regional and district plans must include actions to give effect to them. 

Regional plans

The regional plans help the council carry out its Resource Management Act functions and can cover:

  • soil conservation
  • water quality and quantity
  • aquatic ecosystems
  • biodiversity
  • natural hazards
  • hazardous substances
  • discharge of contaminants
  • allocation of natural resources.

Long-term plans (LTPs)

Councils produce LTPs every three years. These LTPs set out a council's priorities for the coming decade based on goals agreed with its community, including for transport activities. The council must set out its plans in detail for the first three years and in summary for the following seven. The LTPs show when the council plans to implement each project, what the project will achieve and how the council proposes to fund it.

Learn more about local government planning through Local Government New Zealand's website(external link).

Growth strategies and plans

While not required under legislation (except for Auckland), councils are increasingly using growth strategies and plans to coordinate land use, infrastructure and financial needs.

Regional councils can implement growth strategies through:

  • regional policy statements, which can direct city and district council activities to ensure consistency and integration across a region
  • resource management provisions.

Regional land transport plans (RLTPs)

The RLTPs are high-level plans that provide a strategic link between transport activities at a national level and those at a local level (as set out in regional land transport programmes). Regional councils, through regional transport committees, can use these to set out the transport goals for their region.

Regional transport committees prepare the RLTPs every six years (with a mid-term review) to set out a region's land transport activities. They list the activities regions want included in the NLTP. A region's programmes have to be consistent with the impacts the government wishes to achieve through the allocation of national land transport funds. See guiding legislation:

Government Policy Statement on Land Transport 2015/16–2024/25(external link)

Land Transport Management Act 2003(external link)

The RLTPs should include all activity proposed to be delivered by an approved organisation, or by us. They are expected to include activities that deliver on the regional strategies and priorities by including the key programmes, packages and activities identified for the region within the activity classes set out in the GPS. Activity classes include:

  • new and improved infrastructure for state highways
  • maintenance and operation of state highways
  • new and improved infrastructure for local roads
  • maintenance and operation of local roads
  • road policing programme
  • public transport 
  • walking and cycling 
  • sector research
  • transport planning
  • management of the funding allocation system.

District plans

District plans establish council policies and regulations for land use and subdivision, and the environmental effects arising from these activities. The plans set out how councils carry out their functions under the Resource Management Act 1991 as well as guide decisions over new transport activities.

Regional public transport plans (RPTPs)

RPTPs are required by legislation to outline the public transport services and infrastructure provided in the region (both generally and specifically for the transport disadvantaged). The RPTPs must be prepared in consultation with the public transport operators, the public and territorial authorities. These RPTPs may cover services, routes, capacity, frequency, fares and any other matters considered appropriate.

The Transport Agency's 2013 guidelines for preparing regional public transport plans reflect recent legislative and operational policy changes, and they guide preparation of RPTPs.

2013 guidelines for preparing regional public transport plans [PDF, 1.6 MB]

The RPTP guidelines update for public transport continuous programmes have been updated with changes to demonstrate how the RPTP can be refreshed and to show how the business case approach can be applied to the development of the public transport programme.

RPTP guidelines update for public transport continuous programmes [PDF, 364 KB]

Activity management plans (AMPs)

Activity and asset management planning underpins the delivery of land transport services. Schedule 10 of the Local Government Act, sets out the information that local authorities are required to include in LTPs. Much of this information will flow out of effective activity management, and may best be documented in activity management plans.

AMPs are required under the Local Government Act, provide the framework for councils to recognise, deliver and plan for future service levels, operation of spend, network expansion requirements, funding impacts and capital programmes. Councils can use these AMPs to align the strategic objectives of their LTP to their day-to-day business.

The AMPs are expected to identify the services and works required for current and future land transport activities and demonstrate:

  • how transport demand will be assessed and managed
  • how asset condition will be monitored
  • what levels of service are being provided
  • what standards have to be met
  • how asset maintenance, renewal and replacement will be undertaken (including procurement)
  • estimated future costs associated with providing any identified extra capacity needs and replacement and maintenance of existing assets and
  • how these land transport activity costs will be met.

Structure plans

Structure planning is a tool for managing the effects and demands of development or redevelopment in an integrated, holistic and orderly way. Structure plans provide a framework to guide the development or redevelopment of a particular area by defining:

  • future development and land use patterns
  • areas of open space
  • layout and nature of infrastructure (including transportation links)
  • other key features for managing the effects of development.

Infrastructure strategy

The Local Government Act (section 101B) requires each local authority to prepare and adopt an infrastructure strategy as part of its long-term plan. The infrastructure strategy is to cover a period of at least 30 consecutive years.

The purpose of the infrastructure strategy is to identify significant infrastructure issues and options, including transportation, for managing them over the period covered by the strategy.

Road safety action plans (RSAPs)

RSAPs provide a sense of urgency, focus and commitment to mitigate road safety risks. The RSAPs record agreed local road safety risks, objectives and targets, actions, and monitoring and reviewing processes. Each plan is the result of collaboration by key road safety partners. The RSAPs are the primary mechanism for coordination of education, engineering and enforcement approaches to road safety problems at sub-regional levels.

Demand management strategies and action plans

Demand management strategies bring together a collection of measures used to make best use of the existing network and reduce the demand for travel, particularly by single occupancy vehicles. Demand management strategies are required to be included in regional land transport strategies. Many demand management strategies have action plans which identify how these measures will be achieved.

Walking and cycling strategies and action plans

Many councils have produced walking and cycling strategies. These strategies set out their community’s vision for more cyclist and pedestrian friendly environments. Many of the strategies have action plans, which identify how these aspirations will be achieved.

Find out more about our planning for walking and cycling(external link)