Reform of RMA critical to reforming housing affordability

  • Nick Smith
Environment Building and Housing

The Resource Management Act needs to explicitly recognise the importance of New Zealanders’ access to more affordable housing if the downward trend in home ownership over the past 20 years is to be reversed, Building and Housing, and Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith said today at the Property Council New Zealand’s Residential Development Summit in Auckland.

“The Resource Management Act must safeguard our natural environment but it is also a crucial piece of planning legislation. It forms the basis for the decisions that determine what we can do on our land. So it’s important we have a system that balances environmental protection with the wider needs of New Zealanders. We need a system which ensures that important environmental standards are maintained, but that which also enables growth and development – including a strong housing supply,” Dr Smith says.

“It is the price of land and sections that has gone up so rapidly in unaffordable housing markets like Auckland, and it is the Resource Management Act and how it is implemented that is largely responsible for this cost escalation. The new law allowing Special Housing Areas is a short-term fix but we must address the fundamental problem with the Resource Management Act if we are serious about long-term housing affordability.

“The vast bulk of consent processes under the Resource Management Act are about urban development, yet they barely rate a mention in the purposes and principles of the Act. This is why the Government is determined to make changes. We need to get everybody working in the resource management area from a policy, planning and consent perspective to understand how their decisions impact on young Kiwi families who aspire to own their own home.

“I welcome the challenge working as Building and Housing, and Environment Minister. No one Minister has previously been responsible for the full regulatory framework affecting housing, from subdivisions, building consenting to occupational regulation. This presents the opportunity to streamline how we develop new housing so as to increase housing supply and affordability.”