The Government has developed a National Policy Statement for Highly Productive Soils. This has been reported widely in the newspapers and television. The purpose of the policy is to direct new housing development away from highly productive land. It is reported that in the last 20 years, over 35,000 hectares of highly productive land has been lost to urban or rural residential development. In addition, the reports state that over 170,000 hectares of land considered highly productive is now occupied by lifestyle blocks under 8 hectares. Under this National policy statement, land zoned General Rural or Rural Production containing soils classed as 1, 2, or 3 will be considered highly productive.
The policy will take effect on the 17th October 2022. From this date Councils need to take into account the provisions of the policy when considering Resource Consent Applications or Plan changes.
As our cities grow, there will always be increasing pressure on surrounding Rural land to be used for housing. These challenges are not unique to Auckland, as they are faced by many metropolitan centres around the world. The update of rural land for housing and lifestyle purposes is often gradual, although at times a significant change will highlight the underlying issues.
So why introduce this policy after decades of the gradual of loss of productive land? Perhaps the answer, is simply it is better late than never!!