A National Spatial Plan?

The desire to see an alignment between Auckland’s Spatial Plan and the National Infrastructure Plan was just one of the messages gleaned from a recent meeting in Auckland, featuring over 60 leaders in the infrastructure sector. Representatives from central and local government and the private sector were also in attendance. The meeting— facilitated by the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development and professional services company GHD—was held in a bid to help shape thinking for the next National Infrastructure Plan. 

"There was very strong consensus for an agreed vision about how timely investment in infrastructure can help deliver New Zealand's growth objectives," says Stephen Selwood, chief executive of the New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development. 

The idea of a National Spatial Plan that would ensure balanced development and more strategic funding and project prioritisation across the country was also explored. Conceptually, it should be possible for agreed regional spatial plans to be fully integrated into a national plan in the longer term. 

Improved alignment of planning at both a national and local level is seen by the industry to be critical to improving productivity in the construction sector.  Reducing boom-bust cycles will enable the industry to both attract and retain a highly skilled workforce and commit the capital necessary to deliver the infrastructure capacity New Zealand needs to grow. 

Debt in the form of infrastructure bonds public private partnerships were seen as a means of funding the investment required and delivering intergenerational equity to build infrastructure that would last for many decades to come. However, it was also recognised that given the continued escalation of debt at the national level the investments would have to yield a positive economic return and would have to be supported by new revenues from user charges. This could be in the form of tolls, congestion pricing and pricing for water. 

Industry participants highlighted opportunities for aggregation of projects and shared services across local government boundaries and government ministries to achieve economies of scale in the delivery of services. 

Feedback gathered over the course of workshops emphasised illustrated the need for multi-party support for a long term infrastructure plan for the future development of New Zealand. There was also recognition that funding for infrastructure should follow a robust and well-researched strategic plan. 

Feedback from each of the workshop sessions will be collated by GHD into a series of recommendations for input into the National Infrastructure Plan process.   

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