National has pledged to introduce new urban planning laws separate from the Resource Management Act - something it says will enable faster development of housing and other infrastructure.

Infrastructure spokesman Steven Joyce said the "fit-for-purpose" legislation would be passed if National was re-elected.

The Government passed RMA reforms in April, but those did not go as far as National wanted after it struggled to get other parties' support because of controversial environmental changes.

"The RMA's one-size-fits-all approach has restrained the development of our cities, dragged on their economic performance, and restricted the supply of much-needed housing and infrastructure," Joyce said.


"So National will establish a fit-for-purpose planning system that allows our cities to evolve in a way that improves the quality of the local environment, and makes them great places to live and work."

Any moves that would lessen environmental protections in order to turbo-charge the development of cities will be highly controversial.

National's environment spokesman Nick Smith said the new legislation would have clear and separate objectives for regulating urban and natural environments.

"Over the past nine years we've simplified the RMA and made it easier to build but the RMA is only one part of the planning system, and we have reached the end of what can be done by making incremental changes to the Act," Smith said.

"We agree with a number of stakeholders that it is time to develop fit-for-purpose planning legislation dedicated to urban environments that includes the relevant parts of the Local Government Act and the Land Transport Management Act in one piece of legislation.

"So we will set up separate planning and environmental regulations specifically designed to encourage growth while tackling the environmental challenges found in cities, such as air pollution and storm water surges."

Smith said the new legislation will complement existing plans to set-up urban development authorities to redevelop certain urban areas to allow for more housing.

"While the focus of this reform will be on urban planning we will keep a close eye on what changes may also be applicable to non-urban and rural areas through the existing RMA."

The new urban planning laws will be drawn up after consultation with local government, iwi, experts and the public, Smith said.

BusinessNZ chief executive Kirk Hope welcomed the planned legislation, and said the RMA was not allowing urban development in response to growth.

"Separating the planning functions for the built and the natural environments will better achieve the objectives of each of these.

"This will also allow the relevant parts of the Local Government Act and Land Transport Management Act to be better aligned with urban planning legislation."

RMA reforms were first proposed in 2013 but collapsed because of opposition by the Maori Party and United Future to the removal of environmental protections.

Act Party leader David Seymour said National had "nicked" its policy to scrap the RMA and create "pro-development" legislation.

"It's a belated concession that the housing market is not all peaches and cream, and that fundamental reform of planning laws is necessary.

"One question remains; if National admits the RMA is a drag on our economy and housing supply, why won't they commit to scrapping it?"