Reasons for Structure Planning

Reasons for structure planning

A structure plan may be particularly useful when there is a need or desire to:

  • provide integrated management of complex environmental issues within a defined geographical area (eg, urban growth, inner city redevelopment, open space planning, natural hazards management, improved water quality and quantity management, and protection of natural and cultural heritage values)
  • coordinate the staging of development over time, particularly where large areas are to be developed or redeveloped
  • ensure co-ordinated and compatible patterns and intensities of development across parcels of land in different ownership, and between existing and proposed areas of development and redevelopment
  • co-ordinate infrastructure provision and other services across land parcels in different ownership, or over different council boundaries
  • provide certainty to developers, the council, key stakeholders and the wider public regarding the layout, character and costs of development in an area earmarked for growth or redevelopment.

Structure plans are also a good way to:

  • promote a better understanding of the inter-relatedness of issues and proposed management approaches to be used in a particular area (through the use of visual material such as maps, plans and diagrams)
  • ensure that new development achieves good urban design outcomes by defining the layout, pattern, density and character of new development and transportation networks
  • show how economic, social and cultural matters are being provided for and managed alongside environmental considerations, which may be particularly helpful if the structure plan relates to community outcomes described in a Long Term Plan (LTP) under the Local Government Act 2002 (LGA)
  • help councils to meet their section 32 duties under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA), particularly in relation to the assessment of costs, benefits and alternatives.)

Structure plans are often associated with “greenfield” growth areas but can also be used in areas being redeveloped (often referred to as "brownfield" developments) and complement other tools such as urban design guides, frameworks and precinct plans.

Some councils also use structure plans as an input to calculate the appropriate level of financial contributions or development contributions to be charged in areas subject to development or redevelopment pressures. Structure plans are able to provide a degree of certainty about future levels of development from which the likely cost of infrastructure and services can then be quantified. Structure plans can also identify who will be responsible for costs of future infrastructure and the intended timeframes to deliver this.