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“Reshaping” New Zealand’s streets

Waka Kotahi (NZTA) is proposing a new set of rules to support alternative transportation.

“Reshaping Streets” is a set of changes to make it easier for councils to change streets to support walking, biking and taking public transport.

Intensification changes driven by the National Policy Statement on Urban Development and the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Act 2021 have forced the Government to rethink the way our streets are designed. To understand more about these changes read our article here:

In May 2022 the Government also released its first Emissions Reduction Plan, which includes the target to “reduce total kilometres travelled by the light vehicle fleet by 20 percent by 2035 through improved urban form”.[1] Transportation changes are part of the toolkit to reach the emissions reduction target.

What is being proposed?  

Reshaping Streets includes the introduction of the ‘Street Layouts’ land transport rule. Land transport rules are secondary forms of legislation made by the Minister of Transport to control how roads are used.  The proposed ‘Street Layouts’ land transport rule will introduce the following changes:

  1. Pilots’ as short-term changes used to test out different street layouts and features as a way of consulting with local communities. It is proposed that pilots could be installed for up to two years, and any changes that do not work can be removed at any time. Before the end of the pilot, councils would need to decide whether to make any of the changes permanent, and to remove changes that will not be retained.
  2. Councils will be able to more easily change the movement of traffic using physical objects (like bollards or planter boxes) and traffic controls (like signs and road markings). Councils will be able to install objects which restrict traffic if it: improves access and mobility of pedestrians; improves public transport operations; promotes public health and safety; supports environmental sustainability; or creates public places that promote the well-being of communities.
  3. Councils will be able to create ‘School Streets’ in their local areas, by restricting the use of vehicles on streets outside schools during drop-off and pick-up times.
  4. Rules for how ‘Community Streets’ can be created and used by councils and residents. Community Streets are resident-led events held on neighbourhood streets during the day, for two to three hours that restrict motor vehicle use.

Reshaping Streets proposes to remove sections relating to transport from the Local Government Act 1974 and add them to the Street Layouts rule. These sections will be amended in the proposed Street Layouts rule to:

  1. Remove the 31-day limit per year for temporary road closures to allow councils to close roads more frequently for events.
  2. Change the community consultation process for ‘pedestrian malls’ (like Cuba Street, in Wellington) to align with other street change consultations.
  3. Remove the special notification consultation requirements for installing transport shelters and align them with less stringent consultation processes used for other features, like bus stops.

What happens next?

After considering feedback given by the public, the Minister of Transport and Cabinet will decide whether to implement the proposed regulations in Reshaping Streets through the Land Transport Act 1998.

If you have any questions about the impact of the proposed changes in Reshaping Streets, please get in touch with a member of our resource management team including Joan Forret and Charlotte Muggeridge.

You can view the full ‘Reshaping Streets’ proposal with the following link:

[1] Ministry for the Environment Aotearoa New Zealand’s First Emissions Reduction Plan (May 2022), Target 1.

This article is current as at the date of publication and is only intended to provide general comments about the law. Harkness Henry accepts no responsibility for reliance by any person or organisation on the content of the article. Please contact the author of the article if you require specific advice about how the law applies to you.

For further information

Dr. Joan Forret - Harkness Henry Partner

Dr. Joan Forret

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