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New urban development agency on its way !!!

New urban development agency on its way !!!
27 Nov 2018

New urban development agency unveiled to build more homes

Solving New Zealand's housing crisis has been on everyone's political agenda. The latest step towards building more affordable housing and fast-tracking urban development is the establishment of the long-awaited Housing and Urban Development Authority, the details of which were announced by the Housing Minister Hon Phil Twyford over the weekend.

The Authority will be a new Crown agency that will combine Housing New Zealand (and its subsidiary HLC) and the KiwiBuild unit to form a super agency, and it will have super powers to match. The Authority will have two key roles, namely to lead large and small scale urban development projects, and to be a public landlord. Its overarching aim is to drive the Government's urban renewal programme by accelerating and delivering quality urban development that connects households with employment opportunities, open spaces and transport links.

The Authority will be equipped with some very broad powers that will enable it to cut through what the Minister sees as the red tape that is currently inhibiting development from occurring, as well as cut through rights, including in some cases the ability to:

·      Shorten planning and resource consent processes by being the consenting authority for projects.

·      Acquire private property and re-purpose Crown-owned land for development projects.

·      Override, amend or suspend provisions in planning documents, including existing designations and district plan provisions.

·      Build, alter or remove any building infrastructure in the project area.

·      Suspend, make or amend bylaws.

·      Set target rates inside the project area and require betterment payments from landowners for transport projects.

Perhaps in acknowledgement of its proposed wide-ranging powers, the Minister has said that the Authority will work in partnership with local iwi, councils and the private sector to deliver new communities. There will also be opportunities for the public to provide input, including on the development plans for projects. The development plans will set out (among other things) the powers that the Authority can use for that particular project. A panel of independent commissioners, one of whom must be a current or former Environment Court Judge, will hear submissions on development plans and can make recommendations to the Minister.

It will be interesting to see how this new super agency, which will be able to override provisions in existing RMA planning documents, will fit with the Government's other agenda on RMA reform.

The Minister has indicated that legislation will be introduced into Parliament in 2019 to establish the Authority. The first projects are expected to be in place by 2020.

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