Decisions about transport systems, the form of urban development and how land is used, all impact each other. Integrated planning is a planning approach that seeks to pull together all the contributing elements to increase the effectiveness of delivered solutions. It ensures the most efficient use of public funds and avoids creating unintended impacts.

Integration allows individual activities to be coordinated to achieve the best solutions to meet the ongoing needs of people and communities, and to achieve value for money. Without integration, individual activities may have unintended impacts on other activities and this can produce less than best results.

Integrated planning is a key approach to meeting the requirements of the Land Transport Management Act 2003(external link) (LTMA) and the Government Policy Statement on Land Transport(external link) (GPS).

The GPS identifies integrated planning as a key factor in ensuring New Zealand develops a land transport system that achieves its short- to medium-term objectives. The benefits of an integrated approach to planning are that:

  • decisions relating to land use, transport and urban design collectively contribute to the efficient use of public funds

  • transport strategies and packages of activities are developed alongside land-use strategies and implementation plans.

Integrated land use, transport planning and urban design actively contribute to national economic growth and productivity, and create opportunities for better integration within and between transport modes.

What’s involved in integrated planning?

To achieve integration, we need to consider a range of factors for both current and future demand, including:

  • interaction of the transport network and land use

  • performance of the transport system

  • affordability

  • value for money

  • urban design

  • demand management

  • behavioural change

  • accessibility

  • safety

  • network management

  • balance of small-scale and large-scale improvements

  • different modes of transport, for example cars, trucks, buses, rail, walking and cycles

  • key stakeholders involved in planning, operating and using of transportation networks

  • sequencing of works.

See examples of how integrated planning is creating benefits for communities.

Integrating land use and transport

Transport and land use are closely related. Land-use activities result in movement of people and goods. The location and design of different land uses determine the distances people travel and the viability of public transport, cycling and walking facilities. Patterns of development that reduce journey distances tend to provide greater travel choices.

Integrated planning for land transport involves:

  • considering the transport needs of future growth when planning and developing the performance of the transport system

  • safeguarding future transport corridors and networks from development or from inappropriate or unsafe development

  • ensuring urban growth meets the costs of the impact it has on the wider transport network

  • creating opportunities for better integration within and between transport modes and making better use of existing infrastructure

  • assessing the benefits and costs of transport packages as a whole, taking into account strategic and tactical factors

  • developing a range of alternatives and options to achieve economic, social and environmental outcomes

  • addressing both the supply side (the need for additional transport system capacity) and the demand side (reducing pressure on available capacity)

  • responding appropriately to community aspirations and those affected by potential transport investments

  • delivering solutions that represent value for money.

The Planning policy manual

This manual sets out our policy standards and guidelines on transport planning, land use planning and the integration of the two. This document is currently under review.

Read the Planning policy manual 

Improving integration through regional strategies and packages

Regional councils play a key role in encouraging integrated planning. Regional land transport strategies should be delivered through a series of affordable strategies and packages that clearly relate to identified transportation problems and outcomes.

These strategies and packages may include transport and non-transport components. They may involve different organisations, different types of activities and different time periods. Packages should be optimised to make the most effective and efficient use of resources.

Bringing these aspects together in a package:

  • encourages different organisations to adopt an integrated approach to activities under their control and the control of other authorities

  • provides additional collective community benefits by bringing together interdependent and complementary activities

  • offers a simpler way of presenting and assessing projects that involve multiple activities

  • encourages better coordination where different agencies are responsible for implementation.

Strategic studies

Strategic studies are used to develop indicative packages of transport activities (including indicative timing and funding plans) needed to support planned growth and regional land transport strategies. Generally, these studies have a medium- to long-term focus (for example 10–30 years).

Strategic studies are different from the investigation phase of a project, which focuses on detailing the macro-scope of packages and projects. Instead, they build on the conceptual, multi-modal transport solutions identified in regional growth strategies or regional policy statements.

Broadly, there are two types of strategic study:

  • Network-wide strategic studies, which are studies where more than one approved organisation has a material interest, responsibilities or funding input.

  • Single approved organisation strategic studies that involve only one approved organisation.

State highway strategic studies

Generally, these studies coordinate projects or activities on state highways only. In some cases, we work with other organisations if part of the solution involves regional or district initiatives, but usually without the need for joint party agreements.

Recognising the role of different roads

All road controlling authorities use a road hierarchy in one form or another. Road hierarchies are used for a variety of purposes, notably town planning, defining priorities for maintenance, and/or setting design standards for different classes of road. Generally, roads at the top of the hierarchy are either strategic or arterial routes. These roads often cater for high volumes of through traffic. Roads at the lower end of the hierarchy tend to be lower-speed, lower-volume roads mainly used for local trips.

Theoretical road type and function 

Source: Austroads (1988) Guide to traffic engineering practice, part 9: arterial road traffic management,  page 3, figure 2.1.

Find out more about the road hierarchy that we use to help plan the state highway network.

Our integrated planning strategy

Our purpose is to build a better transport system for New Zealanders. This requires us to take a comprehensive and coordinated approach to design and planning, and to work collaboratively with others to determine the best solutions to meet the ongoing needs of people and communities. Our integrated planning strategy is a deliberate organisation-wide initiative to ensure this happens.

 Our strategy sets out to build our capability and capacity for integrated decision making in transport planning, land use and urban design. It aims to provide a clear framework to guide our work with planning partners and local authorities at all planning levels – national, regional and local.

Download our integrated planning strategy [PDF, 245 KB]

Learn about some of the regional projects benefiting from the use of integrated planning