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RMA Reforms Aim To Make Housing And Urban System Simpler, Faster, Cheaper

New Zealand’s housing and urban system is set to benefit from the overhaul of the Resource Management system, making the ability to build new housing simpler, faster and cheaper.

“The RMA is well past its use-by date. It has failed to enable the housing we need, and it has failed to support Māori housing aspirations,” Megan Woods said.

“The legislation introduced to Parliament today (the Natural and Built Environment and the Spatial Planning Bills) will create a system that works for all New Zealanders.

“It will make it easier and more affordable to deliver housing in the places people need, while protecting the natural environment.

“The intent is that is that more housing and urban activities will be permitted and fewer consents needed,” Megan Woods said.

“These reforms simplify the consenting process by replacing complex consent applications with standards. This has the ability to enable faster consenting timeframes and more affordable housing, through lower development costs.

Estimates suggest the new system will provide annual benefits from increased housing affordability of $146 million under a conservative scenario to $834.3 million,” Megan Woods said.

The requirement for regional spatial strategies will provide direction on where development, growth and infrastructure should be provided over 30-plus years.

“These spatial strategies will align infrastructure and land use planning to support well-functioning urban areas, and provide certainty to the sector,” Megan Woods said.

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Meanwhile, a key tool that has been used to speed up the delivery of housing, introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, will be kept.

The COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track consenting) Act 2020 has so far resulted in 31 housing projects with potential to deliver over 4,000 new homes being successfully fast-tracked or referred to an expert consenting panel. This has enabled medium and high density housing in areas like Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown, which are areas where demand for housing exceeds what Councils have previously enabled through their ordinary planning and consent processes.

“Our housing crisis was decades in the making and unfortunately there is no silver bullet to fixing the housing and urban system.

“While we have already made important strides in enabling more urban development, such as investment in critical infrastructure like pipes and roads to support more housing, there is more to do.

“A leaner, more responsive resource management system will help improve housing supply, affordability, and choice, and deliver better housing outcomes for Māori,” Megan Woods said.

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