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Housing accords legislation passes first reading

Hon Dr Nick Smith

Minister of Housing

16 May 2013 Media Statement

Housing accords legislation passes first reading

A bill to urgently increase the supply of land and affordability of housing has passed its first reading 104 votes to 15 in Parliament tonight and has been sent to a select committee for urgent consideration.

“The Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Bill is the circuit breaker needed to get some real pace and momentum around addressing housing affordability issues, particularly for first home buyers,” Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith said.

“The bill recognises that councils control a very important lever with their land supply and housing development policies.”

The bill allows for the creation of Special Housing Areas in both greenfield and brownfield areas suitable for residential development. Within these areas qualifying low rise developments will be able to be approved on a streamlined process.

“This will see consenting decisions made within six months for greenfield developments, as to the current average of three years, and three months for brownfield development, as to the current average of one year.”

Dr Smith said there will be no appeals on developments up to three storeys high and special limited appeals on those between four and six storeys. High rise developments are excluded.

“The bill requires Government to work in good faith with councils to secure housing accords, like the one announced last week with Auckland. However, if an accord cannot be reached in an area of severe housing unaffordability, the Government can intervene directly by establishing special housing areas and issuing consents for developments.

“I’m pleased several councils outside of Auckland have expressed their interest in using this legislation in their regions and I look forward to continuing this dialogue with them.

“This bill is a core part of the Government’s work on housing affordability. It confronts the reality that homeownership rates have been in decline for a quarter of a century, that house prices have soared unsustainably over the past decade, and that for too many families, buying or renting a home is unaffordable.

“The bill isn’t a silver bullet for the problem but a much needed interim measure while the Government’s longer term work programme to address housing affordability beds in. This includes significant reforms to the Resource Management Act, our inquiry into building materials, work on infrastructure costs, review of development contributions and compliance costs, and investment in skills to improve productivity in the residential construction sector.”

The bill passed its first reading with the support of the Labour Party, United Future, the Māori Party, New Zealand First, Act and Brendan Horan. It has been sent to the Social Services Select Committee to report back to Parliament by 26 July 2013.


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