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Fast-track urban development law introduced to Parliament

Fast-track urban development law introduced to Parliament

By Pattrick Smellie

May 29 (BusinessDesk) - The first in a two-part legislative process to create a central government body with powers to fast-track urban infrastructure and housing development in cities where growth issues are acute has been introduced to Parliament.

Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford introduced the Kainga Ora-Homes and Communities Bill to Parliament today to allow the establishment of an urban development authority or UDA, which will be up and running by Oct. 1.

A second tranche of legislation setting out the authority's special powers to over-ride local government plans and accelerate urban development initiatives will be introduced before the end of the year, he told BusinessDesk.

The new agency will bring together Housing NZ, its development arm HLC, and the KiwiBuild Unit, the latter initiative remaining a thorn in Twyford's side for its lack of progress on building new, affordable homes, although Twyford told Parliament today that some 10,360 homes were now "contracted and committed" under the KiwiBuild, representing building intentions worth more than $5 billion.

However, he has long since abandoned the target of 1,000 KiwiBuild homes in the first year of the scheme's operation, telling Parliament on Tuesday that he expected 266 would be completed by July 1. The government is currently undertaking a "reset" of the policy because of dissatisfaction with that progress, and National's housing spokeswoman Judith Collins said the government needed to get on with fixing resource consent and other building system issues.

The UDA approach is part of that response, but has been slower than KiwiBuild to emerge as legislation.

The agency would "also be a world class public housing landlord and will continue to offer the home ownership support currently provided by Housing NZ and HLC such as Home Start Grants and Welcome Home Loans".

The single agency approach would end "duplication and the splitting of key roles, fragmented decision-making and limited coordination between agencies".

(BusinessDesk)

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