Typically public agencies are responsible for initiating, preparing, implementing and monitoring structure plans, and this is primarily done by district/city and regional councils as part of their planning and regulatory responsibilities.
Private sector development interests are often be identified as key stakeholders in a structure planning process. However, there may also be instances where the private sector takes a lead role in a structure planning initiative. The advantages of the private sector leading a structure planning initiative include potential for significant time and cost savings for councils. The private sector may be better placed to focus resources without the competing demands and resource limitations that are often faced by the public sector. The private sector may also have more flexibility to deal with local issues, such as the ability to purchase land and to negotiate on terms that may be less constrained.
The outcomes from structure planning will at some point pass over to the relevant council so it is essential that there is excellent collaboration between the private sector and the public sector throughout the process. For example, there are examples of private sector structure planning where councils and other key public agencies including the New Zealand Transport Agency have been involved in formally established project teams.
At a high level, collaboration also needs to include clear policy guidance to give the required certainty on which private sector investment can be based. Urban growth strategy policies may provide such guidance.
The potential pitfalls of private sector involvement in structure planning may be a reluctance to buy into council objectives on some issues. Early collaboration may provide a means to identify these issues early on and to address them through the process. Therefore it is important that at the early stages of a structure planning exercise, the level of detail required is agreed and this should be consistent with the council’s requirements and approach.
While there can be benefits to private sector led structure planning, it is important to remember that the private sector lacks the statutory tools available to councils for urban planning. Where structure plans involve multiple land ownership, it can be extremely difficult to provide certainty over network development. The private sector will also generally lack powers available to requiring authorities to designate land to achieve certainty on long term outcomes. In these instances, there is likely to be the need for close collaboration between the private and public sector.