Housing supply bill makes haste

Topics covered in this article: Home Owners, Property, RMA, RMA & Local Government

Jemma Hollis

Law Clerk

Law Clerk

Phone: +64 7 927 0528
Email: jhollis@clmlaw.co.nz

Bachelor of Laws Hons (1st class); Bachelor of Science

+

The Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Bill (the Bill) was introduced to Parliament yesterday. In a show of cross party unity, the Bill was announced by both the Labour and National parties in a joint press conference. Aimed at addressing long standing housing supply issues plaguing first home buyers, the Bill proposes to increase development in residential environments through reducing planning restrictions and providing more certainty for developers.


In order to facilitate development quickly, amendments are proposed to both the Resource Management Act 1991 and the National Policy Statement on Urban Development (NPS-UD). Medium Density Residential Standards (MDR Standards) will create a new nationwide resource consent free process for urban housing developments which comply with given requirements (such as height, yards, and site coverage). The MDR Standards include the ability to build up to three dwellings at up to three stories in height per site (for example, in a townhouse style development) as a permitted activity. A resource consent is required for the development of four or more dwellings. However, if the MDR standards are complied with, the consent will not be publicly or limited notified.


The changes will apply initially to the greater Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga (which includes the Western Bay), Wellington, and Christchurch urban areas, with other urban areas able to be brought in later if further housing supply issues are identified.
The MDR Standards will apply to all residential zones except for large lot residential and areas containing ‘qualifying matters’. Qualifying matters are outlined in the NPS-UD, and include areas affected by natural hazards and containing heritage features. More intensive development can still occur in areas with qualifying matters where the development is sensitive to the feature.


The MDR Standards will be introduced into council planning documents through a new Intensification Streamlined Planning Process (ISP Process). Under the ISP Process  councils must notify changes to policy documents to reflect the MDR Standards by August 2022. In most cases, the changes will have immediate legal effect on notification.  This is different to the general position where changes don’t take effect until decisions on submissions have been made.  


Submissions will be heard by an independent panel who will provide recommendations to the council. If the council agrees, the decisions will be notified. If there is disagreement, the Minister for the Environment will make the final decision. There will be no rights of appeal for the final decisions, with the aim being to have the ISP Processes completed within 12 months of notification. Any private plan changes will also be required to incorporate the MDR Standards, with councils unable to accept or adopt plan change requests which do not.


How can you be involved?
The Bill will have its first reading next Tuesday 26 October. A brief submission period will follow which closes on 16 November. The Government aims to pass the legislation by 16 December. These timeframes are unusually short, signifying the importance and urgency of the issues. It appears that a significant amount of behind the scenes work has occurred in order to achieve the cross-party support.  


If you need help preparing a submission or have any questions, please contact our Resource Management team.

 

 

Updated: 20th October 2021