Planning a market : transferable planning mechanisms in New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Resource and Environmental Planning at Massey University
New Zealand's Fourth Labour Government undertook radical reforms of the public sector during the mid 1980s. This Government implemented policy changes associated with the neo-liberal ideology, resulting in re-regulation of the national economy and an affirmation of the role of the market in decision-making. The Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) is a product of this changing political environment; it recognises market forces as legitimate methods of resource allocation and resolution of land-use conflicts. This thesis investigates the potential of using economic instruments, in the form of transferable planning mechanisms, to allocate water and land resources under the RMA. Specifically, transferable development rights and transferable water rights are examined in the context of achieving desirable environmental outcomes. The RMA promotes sustainability in the management of natural and physical resources through the concept of sustainable management. Any policy using transferable rights to achieve planning objectives is required to meet sustainable management criteria. This thesis explores issues associated with the adoption of transferable rights as planning techniques. The exploratory nature of the research reflects the limited application of such mechanisms in practice in New Zealand. Transferable planning mechanisms were conceived and first implemented in the United States, which provides a base for defining principles and evaluating practice. Commentary on the American experience is used in the thesis to gauge the potential benefits of using transferable planning mechanisms in New Zealand. Three New Zealand-based case studies were examined in the empirical phase of research. The case study analysis concluded that transferable development rights can be exercised in New Zealand's rural-urban fringe environments in the form of transferable title rights. This adjustment to the transferable development right concept is a result of New Zealand's more restrictive institutional environment (when compared to the United States) with regard to landowners' development rights. However, transferable title rights can only function effectively under certain conditions. There must be a positive demand differential between the areas of preservation and development, in favour of the designated receiving area of title rights. This is the greatest impediment to the successful implementation of transferable title rights in New Zealand. The thesis research highlights that, there is extensive scope for the effective use of transferable water rights in New Zealand; these have fewer logistical problems and greater market certainty than the application of transferable title rights. Planners should recognise the potential use of nonattenuated property rights as a means of allocating resources sustainably and reducing externalities in resource use decision-making.