A cunning RMA plan?

Richard Harman at Politik reports:

The Government has found a way of over-riding local authority planning regulations.

It is planning on forcing local bodies to take commercial viability into account when they are drawing up district plans and granting consents. .

The proposal replaces earlier hopes that the Resource Management Act would be able to be amended to take economic matters into account in planning.

The Government does not have the numbers to pass that legislation.

In essence the new proposal will give builders and property developers a say in whether a Council plan could actually work.

And it will not require legislation. …

Mr Smith is proposing to capitalise on a Supreme Court Decision last year that said that a National Policy Standard (NPS), a little used device provided for in the Resource Management Act, “trumped” other sections of the Act.

That meant that if a planning requirement was in an NPS then that superseded any requirement a local authority might try and impose.

“It becomes another lever that makes the equation basically more sympathetic to providing for growth.”

So he is proposing that there be an NPS on urban development.

Excellent idea, if it works. This could be very important.

Environment Minister Nick Smith told POLITIK last night that the proposal arose out of the independent panels reviewing both the Auckland Unitary and the Christchurch District Plans.

The panels found that it was commercially viable to build only about a third of the houses that the planners claimed their plans allowed.

Mr Smith said planners living in an ideal world imposed requirements on things like setbacks, yard sizes and stud heights.

“But every time you add one of those rules you impact on the overall cost of the development,” he said.

“And the bit the planners don’t get is that you can’t force someone to do a development.

“They will only do it if it is commercially viable.

“Lots of those rules that get put in end up making these plans unviable.”

It is a tension we see often – the idealistic bureaucratic view vs the commercial reality.

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