“Tool too blunt”: Council responds to Housing Amendment Bill
‘One-size-fits-all’ changes to the Resource Management Act, through the Resource Management (Housing Supply Amendment and Other Matters) Amendment Bill, will have significant implications for the Kāpiti Coast District and are out of step with Council’s recently proposed approach to growth.
The amendment bill, that was passed yesterday, is designed to make it easier to build more housing. It allows landowners to build up to three homes of up to three storeys on most urban sites without resource consent.
In its November submission to the Environment Select Committee, Council made it clear that the proposed changes would have significant implications on its ability to plan and fund infrastructure. Council also requested greater flexibility, clarity, and climate friendly initiatives.
Housing portfolio leader Councillor Rob McCann says that the Select Committee’s changes were disappointing and the tool is too blunt.
“We made it clear our district needs a more nuanced approach to allow us to direct growth to the most suitable areas. How, where and when we grow has a big impact on our ability to create resilient and thriving communities.
“It’s also out of step with our recently proposed approach to growth, Te tupu pai – Growing well. We’ve consulted with our community on this approach and it’s much broader than just the intensification that would be enabled by this government bill. Also, implementing the government’s directives are likely to slow this mahi down and cost ratepayers more.
“Many of the issues we raised were echoed by other councils. We were pleased to see papakāinga provisions can be fast tracked into our District Plan. We also appreciate the clarification about the way in which the Medium Density Residential Standards (MDRS) will work with existing district-wide provisions in our plan. However, our concerns around planning, funding and implementing these changes to the Resource Management Act largely remain.”
Group Manager of Strategy, Growth and Recovery Natasha Tod says while Council supports the government’s efforts to address New Zealand’s housing shortage and enable the delivery of a wider range of housing options, including more affordable homes, Council remains concerned about the implementation of the proposed changes.
“Some of the changes will be complex and could have significant unintended consequences. One concern that wasn’t addressed in Select Committee recommendations is, in the absence of resource consent, Council’s ability to plan and pay for the infrastructure upgrades needed for greater housing density across existing urban areas.
“Currently infrastructure to support growth is funded through development contributions that are collected as part of the resource consent process. Resource consents also give Council early information about where growth is being planned across the district. Without a resource consent, Council risks being left unable to predict where growth is going to occur until houses are being built. This is going to significantly limit Council’s ability to appropriately prioritise and fund the infrastructure upgrades required to support growth across the district.
“While transitional provisions have been introduced to assist those who are part way through plan change processes, the significant impacts the Bill will have on projects that Council has underway across its work programme have not been addressed.
“We’re embarking on a carefully designed and collaborative community-led process that’s likely to make recommendations on how Council plans for infrastructure and uses the District Plan to manage the use of land along the coast,” Ms Tod said.
“Central government direction requires Council to change its District Plan in 2022 to enable greater intensification including in coastal areas. As part of that work Council will look at using the qualifying matter mechanism. This would prevent further infill while the Coastal Advisory Panel develops its recommendations about how best to manage future development in those areas.”
Ms Tod says the timing for implementing the changes hasn’t altered as a result of Select Committee input, which means a huge amount of effort will be required by councils in early 2022 to prepare for the changes.
“Now the law has been passed we have a lot of mahi to get on with. It’s still unclear how exactly the proposed bill will work with our existing District Plan and these changes will happen against a backdrop of multiple reform imperatives from the Government, including the wider Resource Management Act Reform, Three Waters Reform, and the review of local government.
“Despite our frustrations we support the aim of the bill and will get on with it. It’s not impossible, we just hoped it could do more and provide greater flexibility for our growing district.”
The law was passed under urgency and provisions must be implemented by Council through a District Plan change notified by 20 August 2022.