RMA changes

March 16th, 2013 at 8:52 am by David Farrar

Catherine Harris at Stuff reports:

Campbell Barbour has lost count of the millions of dollars he has lost in interest payments, legal costs and lost opportunities as he tried to get consent for his company’s “Westgate” town centre in northwest Auckland.

The general manager of New Zealand Retail Property Group is also at the centre of a high-rise apartment project in Milford, on Auckland’s North Shore, to which locals have objected.

While the fate of the Milford apartments rests with Auckland’s debate about intensified housing, Westgate has gained all its approvals and work has begun. But it took seven years, and Barbour is bewildered by that.

It was not a project anyone objected to and, like a lot of developers, he was forced to refinance when the global financial crisis hit. A speedier consent process would have made a “huge” difference.

Seven years to get consented – and with no objections! The case for change is made.

An angler wrote on the Stuff news website that the move was a “power grab coupled with a water grab”, but a self-described greenie with an entrepreneurial streak said it had taken 18 months of jumping through local-body hoops for a consent to build an eco-residential project.

“I’d say National have hit the nail on the head on this one.”

Views on this issue will vary depending on if someone has actually ever tried to get a consent.

15 Responses to “RMA changes”

  1. davidp (3,865 comments) says:

    The system could be worse. Like in California, where there is a huge amount of expensive planning required to fill a dangerous hole…


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  2. peterwn (4,284 comments) says:

    Opposition would come from two main quarters:
    Greens – motivated partly by conservation and partly by anarchy.
    NIMBY – incumbent property owner/occupiers or occupiers often do not want neighbouring development and want the tools to fight it tooth and nail. This sort of thing causes Council planning departments and those seeking consents enormous headaches. Some people for example have demanded that councils notify them of any building or resource consent sought for a neighbouring property.

    National could be vulnerable to vote losing from the latter group.

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  3. Redbaiter (11,656 comments) says:

    “The case for change is made.”

    You’re not seriously suggesting (again..!!) that National will actually do anything about this travesty are you???

    FFS.. get rid of Nick Smith and his Bluegreens and such a claim might attract slightly less skepticism.

    Even then, the fact that over the long term National have done nothing to repeal an act that was one of the biggest mistakes in this country’s history is a clear enough indicator that they never will.

    The only way the RMA will be fixed is by getting rid of its main supporters- the National-Labour-Greens revolving door coalition.

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  4. Viking2 (14,369 comments) says:

    add in the councils. Currently doing battle with the local asses over a simple time of process issue.
    They are total fuckwits.
    And worse they are allowed to vote.

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  5. flipper (5,297 comments) says:

    It would be interesting to see the result of a truly independent CBA on council “planners” and the RMA.
    But how would one know the analysts are truly “independent”.

    Scrub all but the most general oflocal body/RMA planning rules and let the market decide. Oh … and user pays applies.

    (Bugger, forgot about consequential unemployment 🙂 )

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  6. pq (728 comments) says:

    What we do now, down here in Christchurch , if its small and you are going to live in the home for a while just do the renovations and add ons . Get on well with your neighbours and do it, piece by piece.
    We never ever go near the bloody Council.

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  7. Viking2 (14,369 comments) says:

    This week, we draw your attention to the government’s consultation process on proposed changes to the Resource Management Act and freshwater management through 28 meetings around the country, our NZCPR Guest Commentator Joel Kotkin shares a global perspective on the role of energy, agriculture and manufacturing in economic progress, and this week’s poll asks whether you agree that the RMA needs to be overhauled.

    *One of the government’s key objectives in RMA reform is effective and meaningful Maori participation and in the freshwater management discussion document, they explain that since some iwi continue to feel excluded from management processes, special rights will be considered.

    Do you agree that special rights in water and resource management should be assigned on the basis of race, or do you believe all citizens should be treated equally?

    The Declaration of Equality now has over 41,000 signatures – will you help us reach 50,000? If you believe in equal rights, please sign the Declaration HERE and encourage others to do so too.

    Thanks again for your interest and support.

    Kindest regards,

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  8. Viking2 (14,369 comments) says:

    Houston and Municipal Utility Districts
    Luke Malpass | Research Fellow | luke.malpass@nzinitiative.org.nz
    Rose PattersonDriving around Houston, Texas, several things strike you immediately: the number of pickup trucks, the proliferation of ‘Nobama’ bumper stickers, and the widest freeways.

    Houston is in many ways a typical post-War city. It developed rapidly with the availability of air conditioning and a booming economy. From 2000 to 2010, the greater Houston metro area grew by a staggering 1.2 million people.

    With Houston growing so quickly (its population increased from 2,400 in 1850 to 5 million today), especially since World War II, it has been necessary to house all the extra people moving in, at an affordable price. New and innovative ways to finance infrastructure and housing developments were needed. Enter the Municipal Utility District (MUD).

    An MUD is statutory authority or water district that has a board of directors, and is responsible for providing water service to its residents who pay an ad valorem tax to finance it. Developments are typically around 400 to 500 acres (202 hectares), although some are much larger, up to 12,000 acres.

    These developments are done in stages; typically after the first stage, when enough value has been created, the MUD can issue bonds against that value (typically 20 years) to finance the rest of the development. To recoup the investment, it can charge a tax of up to $1.50 per $100 of value in two parts: a debt servicing charge and an operational charge (to run the utility). For a house worth $300,000 this means $4,500 a year. However, over time as the debt is retired, this component reduces; for residents in some MUDs, the charge for services is as low as 17c per $100 of value: a utility tax rate of 0.17%. For the same house worth $300,000, this is $510 per year.

    And because the residents essentially own the MUD, there is every incentive to keep prices down and service quality up.

    This model has obvious advantages. First, the value of the infrastructure is not folded into the house cost and subsequently passed on at sale. Second, it means those who have built the infrastructure have also paid for it. Third, as developments grow, the MUD can decide its own future, whether it puts in public amenities such as parks and pools. Because there is no zoning, a great diversity of MUDs exist: from high-end master-planned communities to complete starter-home areas.

    For those concerned with costs of growth in New Zealand, this is a model well worth looking at.

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  9. pq (728 comments) says:

    I say we rescind the RMA entirely and execute Geoffrey Palmer tomorrow morning

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  10. Alan Wilkinson (2,435 comments) says:

    Councils should be barred from imposing development charges. All homes require similar infrastructure support whether new or old. The capital cost of these assets is borne equally by rates. Expansion of the asset base to support the increased income stream its rates will provide is simply business as usual.

    The simple fact is that councils have been rorting developers to conceal their over-expenditures from their ratepayers. It must stop.

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  11. flipper (5,297 comments) says:

    Having spent two weeks in Houston and looking at some of the things they are doing I agree with Malpass, who is eminently better qualified to pontificate (questionable word this week, no?) on such matters than the local government wallies protecting their patch at our expense.

    The New Zealand Initiative (previously mainly the NZ Business Roundtable) is turning out some great work. Their weekly emailed newsletter is worth reading.

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  12. hj (8,596 comments) says:

    For 14 years, I have had to listen to the frustration and disbelief of professionals with major companies who are transferring to Houston ask me, “What do you mean you don’t have zoning?” Incoming homebuyers have become increasingly cautious about their purchases because our regulations are weak. To suggest that Houston is in danger of overregulation in development is laughable if not an outright lie.
    When potential buyers see three- and four-story town-homes and four- to five-story midrises adjacent to and crowding one- and two-story single-family homes, they take a pass. It then becomes a challenge to find a relatively “safe” neighborhood with deed restrictions, or a separate city such as West University or Southside with a property that meets my customers’ needs.
    Unregulated residential construction on top of active railroads, freeways and busy commercial streets is the norm at this time, not the exception.
    Excessive regulation is an economic danger? If I may quote the great poet, John Milton, “License they mean when they cry liberty!”

    Realtor, Houston

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  13. hj (8,596 comments) says:

    Investments Muddy Dirt-Bond Holders

    The MUD bonds are only as good as the incomes of the home owners. The wealthy migrants bought in for the Govt/private development Juggernaut will be a good bet but for the less well off the taxpayer will have to step in.

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  14. hj (8,596 comments) says:

    Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Dr Jan Wright today released her submission on the changes to the Resource Management Reform bill.

    “Dr Wright has criticised plans to increase the influence of economic concerns in the RMA process.

    “The RMA’s fundamental purpose is to make sure that environmental effects are taken into consideration when decisions are being made about using our resources. It is not, and should not become, an economic development act.

    “There is a sense in the changes that the environment is considered the enemy of economic progress despite the fact that a large part of our economy is built on our environmental credentials.

    “I am also concerned that the changes would give more influence to effects that can be easily expressed in dollar terms than to effects that cannot be so easily monetised. ”

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  15. swan (778 comments) says:

    Whilst it is good the Govt is looking at the RMA, what I cant understand is their refusal to enact the Auckland Unitary Plan for 3 years. They have been talking the talk about addressing the supply side of housing in Auckland and NZ. The unitary plan will be arguably the largest scale liberalisation of development in Auckland in a generation. Seems very hypocritical to me.

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