There are practical advantages to condensing and simplifying policy. Time-short planners, like those ploughing through consents at councils, while wanting to do a great job, don't necessarily have time to wade through a whole raft of policy documents hunting for the odd relevant sentence for a non-contentious report.
Indeed, the most relevant criticism of the NPPF is the content not the word count. Will the upcoming NPF maintain good policies in full? Can they be improved? If the NPF consolidates the various National Policy Statements, the main issue will not be their collective demise but how well a successor framework retains key positive principles, such as Te Mana o Te Wai, which protects the health and well-being of our freshwater.
Anyone who has witnessed planning lawyers at hearings pull apart seemingly innocuous sentences or interrogate the meaning of a comma so seriously you start to wonder what they're putting in their coffee, will know that the wording of not just the Acts replacing the RMA, but also the NPF, will be minutely scrutinised for loopholes or drafting errors that can be exploited.
For anyone who wants to provide better environmental outcomes for Aotearoa New Zealand, and preserve and improve the best aspects of the National Policy Statements, it will soon be time to consider the upcoming NPF in detail. The changes have far-reaching implications so it's important to seek good advice from professionals who understand the planning reforms, including its pitfalls.
¹ https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/local-planning, 2014