Are there 5,100 new homes coming soon to a site near you...?

From now until late 2016 Tauranga City and Western Bay District are priority cities for housing development. With the signing of the Housing Accords with the Government expected to occur later this month both can recommend Special Housing Areas (SHA's) to the Minister of Housing, resulting in the fast tracking of development of new lots and homes using the HASHAA process rather than the RMA. The HASHAA approach is intended to end the traditional sport of NIMBY- style objecting to intensification or rural land change that has been a much-loved (or derided) part of the planning landscape for some time now.

Although there has been public consultation on the Accord, it’s up to the respective Councils to determine where the new SHA's will be. Approximately 40 blocks of land, including that owned by Council, ranging in size from 1.4ha to 70ha, are being investigated for suitability. The sites are scattered around. If the Auckland example is anything to go by it may include land outside of the urban growth areas set out in the Regional Policy Statement, and may challenge the timing of some of the settled urban growth areas and timeframes.

Apparently, projected growth requires 1300 new homes be built here a year, but only 800 per year have been built in the past 5 years. Based on this we can expect the Accord to aim for at least somewhere in the order of 5,100 new homes by the end of 2016 – a rapid step up from 800 a year to around 2,050 per year for the next two years. The target will be agreed in the Accord, and may differ from this projection.

The new homes may be different from the current housing offer – higher and closer to one another. Also quicker and quieter to arrive: SHA developments won’t necessarily be notified and can be either a combination of a plan change and resource consent application, or consent application in an already zoned area.

Notification of adjoining neighbours may occur, but this is not mandatory. Even so there is no right of appeal against developments of up to three storeys in height, only those between 4-6 storeys can be appealed and then only by those who made a submission.

The SHA process will be combined with the new Development Contributions regime which is anticipated to make the development process less costly: there will be a narrower range of infrastructure funded this way and more private provision of infrastructure through development agreements is encouraged. One big change is the ability to object to the contributions imposed, through a new channel of independent commissioner hearings, which will be like a specialist tribunal. This is an improvement from the old “judicial review” route that set a high bar for any challenge.

The purpose of the contribution is now explicitly linked to the creation of a requirement for the territorial authority to provide new or additional assets of increased capacity and recognises the capacity life of the assets. Non-residential developments no longer have to pay for reserves – this is a change from the approach that recognised office workers as users of public spaces, but which effectively double-counted the residents working nearby, which is one of the foundations of the “live work play” SmartGrowth approach.

Perhaps by the time of going to press the Accord will be released and we will know where the SHA's are and the agreed yields per year that are to be achieved. One thing is certain – by the end of 2016 there will be a much larger supply of new lots (and hopefully of houses too) in the Bay and then it will be time to take stock and see if supply side economics has resulted in more affordability. It will also have brought the opportunity for more innovative housing options than traditionally supplied here: it will be time to test the truth of the refrain that the market just doesn’t want smaller sections and more intensive home design.


Note: The WBOPDC accord has since been signed

Helping you see the bigger planning policy and legislation framework: Our Resource Management Team can help you through the maze of plans and policies and to manage change.

Call Sharron Wooler on 07 927 0502 or email her at swooler@clmlaw.co.nz