North West resource consents

We need more than empty promises on housing. A warm, safe place to live should be the

right of every New Zealander. It’s the issue that politicians hear about the most and yet the issue the public trusts politicians on the least. And it’s no wonder with so many broken and empty promises from successive Governments.
Labour was elected to fix housing after the previous government also failed. The bi-annual report from Core Logic shows it’s harder than ever to buy a home in New Zealand. The average property across New Zealand is now worth 8.8 times’ the average annual household income, and well beyond the long-term average of 5.9.
New Zealand has more land area than the United Kingdom with a population of 65 million. So why can’t make enough land available to affordably house five million people?

The gap between homeowners and non-homeowners has never been wider, and the problem seems too difficult for either Labour or National to solve. That problem is the Resource Management Act.

I was contacted this week by a developer planning to replace four standalone homes with 17 new homes in a terraced housing complex. The plans are complete. There is an earthworks and drainage contractor lined up to start as soon as resource consents are issued.
His budget includes new stormwater and wastewater infrastructure. He has budgeted for council development contributions to support parks, reserves, and community facilities.
What he hasn’t budgeted for is how long it takes to get a resource consent from Auckland Council. His application for land development and subdivision was lodged in October 2021. In late February 2022, the application has yet to be allocated to a council planner to review, let alone approve.
The Resource Management Act allows councils 20 working days to process a consent, yet after more than 120 days this application sits in a stack of hundreds on a planners’ desk.
In November 2021 Labour and National pushed through the RMA Enabling Housing Bill under urgency. ACT was the only party to oppose the Bill because we don’t believe the law changes will actually make more affordable land available for housing.
A developer gave evidence to Parliament’s Environment Committee that his company burned $1 million every year on land holding costs alone, because it took so long to get consents. That cost goes straight onto the price of a new home, when it is finally built.
Developers asked for one thing - make the resource consent process simpler and faster to speed up land development for housing. That is why ACT would repeal the Resource Management Act and replace it with separate Environmental Protection and Urban Development Acts.
ACT’s repeal and replacement of the RMA would not only accelerate house building this would make a real difference to housing affordability - vital for healthy communities and a healthy economy.
Our reforms to the RMA would increase the certainty for investors, developers, and local councils, giving them the confidence to invest in ambitious projects, without living in fear of planners or the Environment Court.
These kinds of sensible and practical changes will make a real difference and hopefully restore the public’s faith in politicians after being let down time and again.

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