Special housing legislation to be extended

  • Nick Smith
Building and Housing

The Government is extending the special housing legislation to ensure a smooth transition to the new Auckland Unitary Plan and to enable the streamlined planning process for new housing to continue to be used in other areas for a further three years, Building and Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“The most important ingredient in resolving housing challenges in Auckland and other parts of New Zealand is supply. We have made good progress since the Housing Accords legislation was passed three years ago, with residential building activity doubling. This extension of the legislation is needed in Auckland to ensure momentum is maintained through the transition to the Unitary Plan and to enable further Special Housing Areas (SHAs) to be created in other parts of New Zealand while the Government’s other longer term reforms to the planning system take effect.

“The first issue this bill addresses is transitional issues with Auckland’s new Unitary Plan. There are eight SHAs with the capacity for about 7900 homes which, subsequent to the final Unitary Plan taking effect, may not be able to progress. They are caught in a unique situation where the plan change process is not complete, where the Unitary Plan does not provide for residential housing and where they would have to go back to the beginning of the plan change process to advance. This law change has the support of the Auckland Council and will ensure these housing developments can continue to progress.

“We are also proposing to extend the SHA legislation for other parts of New Zealand by three years. There has been renewed interest in new Housing Accords and SHAs as housing pressures have spread to other parts of the country. The long-term tools of the National Policy Statement on Urban Development and the Resource Management Act reforms will take time to flow through into new supply, and this will enable the streamlined mechanisms for new housing to be used in the interim. The extension of the Housing Accords and Special Housings Areas law includes an amendment that land owners need to take up the option within 12 months by lodging the relevant consents for housing development within that timeframe.

“The legislation also removes any uncertainty about approved housing developments under the Housing Act and the offer-back provisions of the Public Works Act. The existing Housing Act explicitly provides that State housing purposes includes the building and development of housing for sale, lease or tenancy but the consequential exclusion of offer-back obligations is not explicit. Clarifying this law will ensure the momentum of the Government’s housing programme on public land involving thousands of new homes is maintained.

“New Zealand’s housing challenges require we do not allow any legislative impediments to continuing to grow supply. This law changes needs to be in effect by 16 September, so we will be progressing it through all stages in Parliament tomorrow.”