20 April 2017

Policy Update – 20 April 2017

Our fortnightly policy updates keep you up-to-date with the industry.

Resource Legislation Amendment Bill passed

On 6 April the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill had its third reading and it is now awaiting Royal Assent to become law.

The Bill makes 40 significant changes to the Resource Management Act, Public Works Act, Conservation Act, Reserves Act and the Exclusive Economic Zone (Environmental Effects) Act.

Significant provisions in the Bill include:

  • National planning standards to reduce complexity and cost
  • Streamlined planning process to improve responsiveness
  • Discretion for councils to exempt an activity from consents
  • Strengthening of requirements to manage natural hazard risks
  • New 10-day consent category for minor activities
  • New requirements for council to free up land for housing
  • New provisions to enable stock exclusion from waterways
  • New provisions requiring decommissioning plans for offshore platforms
  • More generous compensation for land required for public works
  • Better alignment with other Acts like Reserves, Conservation and EEZ
  • Collaborative planning process to encourage community-led solutions
  • Improved Maori participation arrangements

In a media release Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith noted “This Bill is pivotal to resolving New Zealand’s long-term housing supply and affordability problems. The cost of a section in Auckland has increased tenfold over the past 25 years, from $53,000 to $530,000, as compared to the threefold increase in the cost of building, from $120,000 to $360,000. The key solution is making sections easier to create and more affordable.” This Bill introduces a specific requirement on councils to free up land, removes appeals on residential developments, reverses the presumption in favour of subdivisions and removes the double charging system of financial and development contributions.

He also noted “The introduction of natural hazards into the core principles of planning and consenting is critical to New Zealand lifting its management of risks from earthquakes and floods. This change was recommended by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch Earthquakes and I am appalled that on a day of floods affecting communities like Edgecumbe, opposition parties are opposing this sensible extension of councils’ planning responsibilities.”

IPENZ submitted in response to the amendment Bill, in a joint submission with ACENZ, Civil Contractors New Zealand and Water New Zealand. In our submission we noted general support for the amendment Bill, particularly stronger national policy direction and guidance, provisions to assist in increasing urban land supply, arrangements for property owners whose land is required for infrastructure and better management of the risks of natural hazards.

Our submission also suggested some improvements to the Act, particularly to support sound decision-making for the management of natural hazard risks.

Find out more

Read our submission