Housing and the urban system should benefit from the reforms of the RMA

New Zealand’s housing and urban system stands to benefit from the overhaul of the resource management system, making building new housing easier, faster and cheaper.

“The RMA is well past its sell-by date. It has failed to deliver the housing we need, and it has failed to support Maori housing aspirations,” said Megan Woods.

“The legislation introduced in Parliament today (the Natural and Built Environment and the Planning Bills) will create a system that will work for all New Zealanders.

“It will be easier and more affordable to provide housing where people need it while protecting the natural environment.

“The intent is that more housing and urban activity will be permitted and less consent required,” said Megan Woods.

“These reforms simplify the consent process by replacing complex consent requests with standards. This has the ability to enable faster consent times and more affordable housing, thanks to lower development costs.

Estimates suggest the new system will deliver annual benefits through an increase in housing affordability of $146 million in a conservative scenario to $834.3 million,” said Megan Woods.

The requirement for regional spatial strategies will provide direction on where development, growth and infrastructure should be provided over 30+ years.

“These spatial strategies will align infrastructure and land use planning to support well-functioning urban areas and bring certainty to the sector,” said Megan Woods.

In the meantime, a key tool that was used to speed up housing delivery, put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic, will be retained.

The COVID-19 Recovery (Accelerated Consent) Act of 2020 has so far resulted in 31 housing projects with the potential to deliver over 4,000 new homes that have been successfully accelerated or referred to a consent panel . This has enabled medium and high density housing in areas such as Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown, which are areas where housing demand exceeds what councils have previously allowed through their ordinary planning and consent processes.

“Our housing crisis has lasted for decades and unfortunately there is no silver bullet to fix housing and the urban system.

“While we have already made significant progress in enabling more urban development, such as investing in critical infrastructure such as pipes and roads to support more housing, there is still a long way to go.

“A leaner and more responsive resource management system will help improve housing supply, affordability and choice, and deliver better housing outcomes for Maori,” said Megan Woods.

(With contributions from the New Zealand government press release)

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