Major RMA reforms announced

August 10th, 2013 at 9:01 am by David Farrar

The PM has just announced the major points of the third stage of the Government’s reforms. They are very significant, and are aimed to lowering housing costs and speeding up consenting. This means I am sure Labour and Greens will oppose them.

The major points are:

  • halve from 20 to 10 workign days the time limit for consents for straightforward applications such as adding a deck or veranda
  • require fixed-fee options for certain consents, so there is certainty of cost
  • Give Councils the ability to waive resource consents for insignificant variations from planning rules such as a retaining wall being slightly over a permitted height
  • Require Councils to provide a minimum of 10 years of urban land supply to cope with projected population growth
  • Make subdivisions non-notified unless they are clearly not of the type anticipated by the relevant plan and zoning

These look really good to me, and should make a real difference to reducing both the cost and time of building or altering a house.

Tags: ,

31 Responses to “Major RMA reforms announced”

  1. wreck1080 (3,924 comments) says:

    And for those who believe Auckland house hunters are just wanting too much……

    Just check the herald today — 2 bedroom shitbox in crappy Pt Chev sells in 1 day for 305k above valuation.

    You have to laugh, 500k per bedroom.

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. MD (62 comments) says:

    This is just more tinkering, and doesn’t address the problem. Why do we need a resource consent for a deck or a retaining wall? Safety issues are what the building permit is for. So, why is it a resource consent required at all?
    The government has previously recognised the unworkable nature of the act in relation to major projects, but rather than fix it they provided an alternative mechanism for their major projects to avoid the normal resource consent process. However it was left unchanged for everyone else – even though they’ve tacitly acknowledged it’s impossible to get anything done. In my local area Transmission Gully came up with a problem that the district plan required ‘no impact’ on streams and waterways, this was an impossible standard (not minimal impact or mitigation for any impacts). So has that been changed? Well yes, but only for the Transmission Gully project as they changed it under their special process, for me as a farmer trying to put a track on my farm – that standard, that they recognised as impossible to meet, still applies.
    Making subdivisions non-notified is significant, you now just have to deal with the council requirements not everyone in the surrounding district, but are residential subdivisions the only part of the economy impacted by this appalling legislation? It’s like a millstone around the neck of anyone trying to build, develop, grow anything; but the solution is piecemeal exemptions and special processes for some rather than ripping it out and starting again. There should be a high threshold before anyone can tell you what you can or can’t build on your property these sort of requirements should be the exception not the rule.

    Vote: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. wiseowl (899 comments) says:

    Agree with you MD.
    This is just more tinkering from people who really do not grasp some of the stupid planning details that planners dream up.

    I struggle to find an MP who really understands the RMA and all we are seeing is kneejerk reactions.

    The tinkering will lead to more problems .

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 2 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. slightlyrighty (2,475 comments) says:

    The problem with any sort of compliance and consent process, such as the RMA, OSH etc, is that there is a requirement to make more and more rules to continue justifying the existence of the organisations involved in developing these rules, and they simply can’t leave well enough alone.

    Rules and standards are being revisited and expanded as the officials in charge find new ways to exercise the little power that they have. That is why when a rule is put in, and enforced to the point it becomes a standard, then those involved in enforcement need a new rule, and we get ridiculous laws.

    http://www.lbc.co.uk/ten-most-ridiculous-health-and-safety-rulings-43926/album/ten_most_ridiculous_health_and_safety_ruling/1350#21101

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. Reid (16,518 comments) says:

    These look really good to me, and should make a real difference to reducing both the cost and time of building or altering a house.

    Too bad these changes won’t make a scrap of difference to the Akld housing market but never mind about that, that’s not important, in any way.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. Manolo (13,840 comments) says:

    More Labour Lite tinkering. All hot air, no substance.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. nasska (11,580 comments) says:

    The RMA as first envisaged was quite an inspired piece of legislation. It basically worked on the presumption that you could do as you wished on your own land but you couldn’t export any problems across your boundaries. Hence in the instance cited by MD above of cutting an access track on to part of a farm, thought had to be given as to where the runoff sediment was likely to end up. Ditto for removing cover in the form of mature trees.

    What happened of course is that councils realised that empires could be built on the back of the RMA & every no hoping jobsworth in the country was guaranteed a cushy job for life. Additionally NIMBYs embraced the legislation as a way of stopping neighbouring development they didn’t want….the Greens & other wankers used RMA provisions to block nearly all planned projects just because they could.

    It’s time to throw the act into File 13 & start gain but this time to exclude council featherbedding & vexatious stonewalling of necessary development.

    Vote: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. tvb (4,432 comments) says:

    The Greens regard the RMA as holy writ and must never be touched. So they will oppose it.

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. Griff (7,819 comments) says:

    Stupid rules driven by a narrowly focused governmental bureaucracy.
    The act of ticking all the boxes in a self generated quagmire of nonsense red tape.
    Once signed off all the effort of completing the demanded reports,impact statements and stakeholder consultation.
    Is casually tossed into a filing cabinet and forgotten about.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. Reid (16,518 comments) says:

    Rules and standards are being revisited and expanded as the officials in charge find new ways to exercise the little power that they have.

    After 20+ years working in Akld commercial enterprises and 5+ years in Wgtn bureaucracy my observation is that the problem lies in the legislation, which is almost always framed by people who have little to no operational experience. It is normally framed by a bunch of scientists or doctors or bureaucrats or lawyers or accountants or engineers or whoever and supposedly this plus the select committee process puts the efficiency imprimatur on the whole mess but that’s the theory and not the practice.

    When it is launched the govt depts charged with implementation busily design their IT systems and business processes around compliance and this, to them, is the mark of success. They don’t care if “compliance” means that people out there in compliance land have to jump through hoop after hoop because like I said, compliance is their objective, business efficiency is not. Of course they say they care, but at the end of the day, their job is not to embarrass the Minister and to implement Parliament’s “wisdom.” Period. That’s what they get their vote on and it’s the old story, you pay attention to the elements you are measured on, and their measure is compliance.

    An additional factor is that due to the short electoral cycle, incredibly complex systems (and this covers both the IT AND the operational processes) are often designed with short timeframes which doesn’t allow for due care and consideration and most critically, no opportunity to go back to Parliament with: “hang-on, we know what you’re trying to achieve, but if we did it this way instead of that way, it would be much better in the long run.” Normally it’s all hands to the pump with masses of contractors who don’t understand the nuances and nine months later it’s all unveiled with a big “ta-da” and everyone brays and claps loudly at the shiny new thing as the contractors with all the knowledge escape out the door carrying a big money bag. But because of the short implementation time frame which has been designed to implement over-engineered regulations, it’s almost always a highly complex finickity inflexible unwieldy monstrosity which on the surface looks fine but which in practice turns out to be a clunky crotchety beastly piece of kit which costs massive time and effort to run and maintain and improve over time.

    If you changed the legislative process with two things, you could, finally, achieve reasonable efficiency and success. These two things are firstly, involving a careful study of the operational efficacy of every single clause of the legislation as deliberated not by boffins and bureaucrats but by customers and operational specialists with decades of experience in the affected industries. The select committee process is designed to do this but it clearly doesn’t work. Secondly by building in a standard process whereby the legislation is returned to Parliament for fine tuning after the implementation team has prepared the detailed design and discovered the inevitable inefficiencies and snafus which always creep in, notwithstanding you’d prepared the original legislation under my first suggestion.

    All of this would mean most implementations would not be done within the electoral timeframe which is of course anaethema to the sponsoring Ministers but who cares about their egos? At the end of the day the whole objective is building an efficient set of systems and processes that run like a goose with diarrhea. The objective is NOT to satisfy the egos of a few humans who temporarily inhabit a decision making role in the NZ Parliament. So that, IMO, is the answer, not just for the RMA but for every bit of legislation that gets the assent but will it ever happen? Of course not, that would be stupid.

    Vote: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. gravedodger (1,566 comments) says:

    The one single most disappointing and annoying issue the RMA involves is the absolute removal of enjoyment and use of a freehold property by the legal owner/s all too often on vexatoius grounds of people completely unaffected but where change is merely contrary to their social, imagined or community based views and with zero compensation for the person who owns the said property.
    State sanctioned theft of valuable freehold property rights is all too easy for our employees.

    Vote: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. OneTrack (3,117 comments) says:

    The PM has just announced ….. This means Labour and Greens will oppose them.

    There, fixed it for you.

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. flipper (4,084 comments) says:

    I’ll give J Key, M Williamson, A Adams, N Smith et al 9 for intent,
    but 3 for actuality/effect.

    I liked Reid’s analysis.

    Perhaps the best solution would be to abolish all box ticking multi-page application forms, abolish all fee scales, set a standard fee for all non commercial building of $100 per Consent application, require applicants to personally (personal liability to remain, irrespective of any corporate entity) warrant planning and construction compliance, safety and water tightness. In return the Councils should be requited to issue consents within three (3) working days, and to under take three compliance inspections – one pre concrete foundation pour, one pre lining, and the second in completion (by an agreed date).

    Pease do not give me BS about Local Body costs. That is rubbish. Those folk are already employed and paid for from rates. They are simply doing what ratepayers contribute tax paid cash to purchase – service.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. flipper (4,084 comments) says:

    As a follow up to mine above:

    Wood burner fires – no consent. Advice of installation and warranty by installer.

    Swimming Pools – no consent, personal warranty, $10 fee, and acceptable safety fencing (which is BS unless all lakes, rivers and beaches are enclosed), with over the counter same day issuance.

    Decks and alterations/extensions – advice, sketch plan, $10 fee and over the counter issuance, in return for personal warranties as per new houses.

    Commercial – I bow to those with knowledge on the multi-storey building sector.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. Nookin (3,361 comments) says:

    Flipper

    Have you ever read any leaky homes cases –where developers have gone broke or disappeared, negligent subbies do not have two stones to rub together? And you want councils, which are always the convenient backstop and even more so nowadays, to rubberstamp and then carry the can?

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. flipper (4,084 comments) says:

    Nookin…
    That is the point of a personal warranty ..no corporate cop out.
    IMO, the problem was never developer based. It was always product designer based.

    Think about the number of forty year + old homes that have “leaky” problems. There was no bullshit over the top compliance. The whole exercise has been fudged. When someone demands a fee for a service they are liable, unless there is legislative/international (ACC and airlines are examples) limitation. Councils always saw the fees as cost mitigation, and not the provision of service or the maintenance of standards. IMO.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. nasska (11,580 comments) says:

    Flipper

    The ideas you are floating have more to do with consenting the actual building of the structure. While anything that would wreck destruction on the bureaucracy within Local Government organisations is to be encouraged the biggest problem usually is getting permission to actually develop the land to the point that building on it is possible.

    The RMA is the playground & revenue source of lower local government hacks when for instance a new deck on an existing house might encroach on a neighbour’s views. Regional Councils are responsible for stonewalling, or at least making uneconomic, larger projects that may impede on the rights of snails, the sensitivities of the Tangata Whenua & other really important stuff. In many cases it is the major ‘raison d’ĂȘtre’ for their existence & any tampering with the act threatens their viability.

    Know thine enemy.

    Vote: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. Mark (1,488 comments) says:

    It appears the government has failed completely to address the issue of councils utilising “discretionary non-notified consents” to get around the permissive intent of the act which can bring significant additional const and time delay implications for developers and investors.

    @flipper and @Nookin you appear talking about Building Consents not Resource Consents. Different Act and different set if issues.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. Nookin (3,361 comments) says:

    Mark

    Yes, I am talking about building consents which is not the subject of the thread, I know. My response was directed to flipper who was also talking building consents or was confused between the two.

    My experience of the resource consent process is that the system is plagued by inexperienced planning officers beleaguered by text book minutiae and who have very little practical knowledge of the real world. As a result they bring an undesirably academic approach to consenting.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. hj (7,033 comments) says:

    So we need to plan for projected population growth; who gets a say onprojected population growth?Whobenefits…. oh I know developers, banks, Bob Jone’s etc.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. smttc (752 comments) says:

    Since when did you need a resource consent for a deck or verandah? Often you do not even need a building consent.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. Ross12 (1,432 comments) says:

    Nookin and flipper

    I was talking to a builder this morning about the cost building these days. He said the cost of consents was a real issue. But he added the responsibility is squarely on the builder –the councils take no responsibility ( this is Wellington).Hence the need for him to take extra insurance –but he added more responsibility is also starting to go on architects and engineers also . So when asked what are we paying for I got the obvious answer –“don’t know”. Then he added that recently the Council inspector was around looking at one of his jobs and said he had a job on his own house –could the builder do it. Builder says OK but he should start to get the consent in place. “F….off I’m not gettting one of those. I live in a cal de sac , no one will check on me” . Its all a sham.

    Vote: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  23. flipper (4,084 comments) says:

    Smttc…
    Resource consent/building consent… Different, but the “same” to the ordinary DIYer.

    And all decks over one (1) metre require a consent…as do porches of more than 15m2 and enclosures of existing buildings of more than 5m2, and are subject to all sorts of other esoteric bullshit, depending, for example, upon how close one lives to the sea.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  24. flipper (4,084 comments) says:

    Ross 12 and Nookin….
    All true!
    But there are also those self serving Mast B and Cert B trade unions :)

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  25. cha (4,036 comments) says:

    Since when did you need a resource consent for a deck or verandah?

    This is KB fella – where, rather than STFU about shit they know SFA about, various posters are able to freely avail themselves of the all doubt is removed service.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1 You need to be logged in to vote
  26. flipper (4,084 comments) says:

    Nasska…
    Yep, I was loose with the word “consent”, but to the great unwashed they are one and the same.

    A well heeled sheep station owner friend built a massive deck (22m x 6m) about four years ago, and for part of it, the deck per se was about 1.5 metres off the ground – more than 1m requires a consent. And given that the homestead was only 400m from the seas, everything fixing the deck would have to be stainless steel, which would outlast the timber.
    A local council inspector, while looking at a new shearing shed, noticed, measured and sent her a “fix” notice.

    Being an overly clever bugger, I suggested, somewhat tounge-in-cheek that she get the farm staff to use the froing end loader, take gravel and earth from another part of the farm, and place it in front of the deck. The finished height was .9m . She told the Dist Council to go away. They looked, and did. :)

    Vote: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  27. smttc (752 comments) says:

    Flipper, you are making my point for me.

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  28. nasska (11,580 comments) says:

    Great way to solve the problem flipper. I admit to hating the small minded arseholes bearing their attitudes & clipboards with a passion that borders on an obsession.

    Reminds me of a cocky who lived a bit out of Martinborough a few years ago. At the time the “enforcement officer” for the WRC whose job included checking the shit holding ponds on dairy farms drove straight past the farmer without so much as an acknowledgement or a good morning. When he came to leave he found the farm truck parked over the gate way.

    Tinny was inside having a cuppa when an angry little jobsworth presented himself at the back door waving his ‘warrant’ around which stated that he could enter any property, at any time without notice or permission. Our hero checked the warrant & confirmed that the statement was indeed true but it didn’t say a dickybird about leaving.

    It took intervention from the local cop before a slightly deflated local body public relations expert left the property.

    Vote: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  29. flipper (4,084 comments) says:

    smttc (475) Says:
    August 10th, 2013 at 1:53 pm
    Flipper, you are making my point for me
    <<>>
    My pleasure :)

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  30. flipper (4,084 comments) says:

    Nasska…
    I love it. :) m :)
    Like to replicate that one in the future.

    My yarn relates to a property further north on the Wairarapa coast. ‘Nuff said. But the District Council people were highly pissed when they found they could do nothing – not even about the removal of soil/shingle..

    Vote: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  31. goldnkiwi (1,321 comments) says:

    $1000.00 resource consent to light a sign in my Bailiwick.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote