Public Sector

The Latest On Affordable Housing

The latest word on affordable housing is out. The Social Services Select Committee (Committee) completed its examination of the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Bill (Bill) on 31 July 2013, recommending by majority that it be passed with a number of amendments.

Committee Report

The Committee's Report can be viewed here. The bulk of the recommended amendments address:

  • The need for greater clarity around terms used within the Bill;
  • Some of the issues associated with the extended powers given to Central Government and the Minister, and the detrimental effect this could have on relationships with territorial authorities (TAs). There are concerns that such powers infringe on democratic decision-making; and
  • Aspects of the consent and planning process, notification and public participation.

Recommended Amendments

Repeal dates

To enable sufficient time for Bill implementation, the provisions for the establishment of Special Housing Areas (SHAs) will have their life span extended from a repeal date of 30 June 2016 to 3 years after the date of Royal Assent. The Act itself will have a 5 year life span before repeal.

Override Provisions

An accord may provide for a dispute resolution process that must be followed before it's terminated. The Committee noted concerns with the responsible Minister having the ability to override a TA by declaring or continuing a SHA where a housing accord has been terminated or agreement had not been reached.

Qualifying developments: meaning and criteria

The meaning of 'qualifying development' and its prescribed criteria are clarified and a new maximum height of 27 metres is added.

Power to amend Schedule 1 (Areas having significant housing supply and affordability issues)

The criteria the Minister must consider when determining if a region or district should be added to Schedule 1 have been expanded to include a requirement to have regard to the availability of residential land in terms of predicted population growth, and to any other information about housing supply and affordability in the area.

Infrastructure

The process for establishing SHAs is amended to require the Minister to be satisfied that adequate infrastructure to service qualifying developments in the proposed area either exists or is likely to exist.

Resource consents and plan changes

There are a number of amendments to the resource consent and plan change provisions in Part 2 of the Bill. In particular it now applies to the infrastructure relating to developments in SHAs.

The provisions dealing with an application for a prohibited activity are now integrated with resource consent applications under other categories. A new clause allows an authorised agency that is also an Accord TA to require that a prohibited activity application be preceded / accompanied by an application for a plan change or variation.

The provisions relating to requests for a plan change or variation, including the effect on any concurrent resource consent application have been amended and clarified.

There is now a one year default period for the lapsing of resource consents if no date is specified in the consent. The five year default period (as in the RMA) is not considered appropriate given the Bill is a short-term legislative tool.

Minority Views

The Committee's Report also sets out some of the minority parties' views of the Bill:

Labour Green NZ First
  • Bill's premise incorrect. It focuses on some of the underlying factors to the housing crisis and ignores others.
  • Fast-tracked consenting will not lead to more affordable housing.
  • Need mechanism ensuring that a portion of new houses in SHAs are affordable to low-middle income earners.
  • Provisions allowing Central Government to override TAs are "draconian" and "damaging to local democracy".
  • Increasing land supply will not solve housing affordability issues
  • Need mechanism ensuring that new houses are affordable.
  • Are "profoundly uncomfortable with the provisions that override the autonomy of territorial authorities and limit consultation and appeal rights" under the RMA.
  • Opposes the non-notification approach of the Bill - "blatant undemocratic approach to social housing".
  • Concerned about the breadth of plan change proposals infringing on a plan's ability to adequately protect and reflect the local area.

 

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The contents of this publication are general in nature and are not intended to serve as a substitute for legal advice on a specific matter. In the absence of such advice no responsibility is accepted by Brookfields for reliance on any of the information provided in this publication.

 

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