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Nick Smith’s RMA reforms – low cost housing in Epsom?

Written By: - Date published: 8:32 am, January 22nd, 2015 - 84 comments
Categories: act, housing, national - Tags: ,

slum

Nick Smith has in that particularly Nick Smith style announced proposals he says will solve the housing crisis and deliver us from the evils of the Resource Management Act.  You have to admire such simplistic utter confidence in what he says although you also have to worry at what damage such a simplistic view may do.  He has also released the treasury commissioned report that details how much the RMA is apparently costing us.

The study is based on an interesting methodology and comes up with unusual conclusions but stand by as we are inundated continuously by claims that Council red tape is costing us $15,000 per house and $30,000 per apartment.  I have not had the time to study the report properly but a quick skim suggests that it has some interesting claims and conclusions.

Firstly the study is based on interviews with sixteen developers, not on an analysis of actual costs.  Call me sceptical but I worry when we go to a group with a clear vested interest and ask them what they think of the current state of the law and then design reforms based on their wish list.  And the report does not attempt to measure actual benefits, such as improved amenity.  As stated in the report:

We do not attempt to value the corresponding benefits of the planning rules and regulations, so this study is not a cost: benefit analysis of council planning approaches; rather it documents the costs of the rules and regulations – as perceived by developers – to provide a basis for benefits to be compared.

From the comments in the executive summary it appears that it is not the red tape per se which is causing the claimed cost increase, rather it is minimum requirements and the implementation urban design features which means additional cost.

Regulations that have had major effects on the actual building costs of apartments include: building height limits, balcony requirements, conforming to Council’s desired mix of apartment typologies and minimum floor to ceiling heights.

Obviously if we had buildings with lower ceilings and apartments without balconies prices could reduce.  And smaller lot sizes will reduce cost.  We could even go as far as removing windows in apartment buildings and insist on footpaths and road berms being removed.  But would you want to live there?  Or would you want to live down the road from such buildings?

The quality of the thinking of National’s support party leaves a lot to be desired.  ACT Epsom MP David Seymour has achieved the unusual achievement of completely contradicting himself in the same interview.  He firstly railed against Council red tape and suggested that property rights were sacrosanct.  He then expressed loathing for medium density occurring in Epsom.  Earth to David Seymour, increased landowner rights will mean more medium density in your electorate.

The basic problem with housing is that there is a localised (Auckland and Christchurch) failure of the market. The causes are numerous and somewhat complex but major factors are the leaky home debacle and the huge damage it caused to the building industry, the global financial crisis and the wiping out of finance companies that builders used to rely on, increasing concentration of wealth in the hands of the already wealthy and the developing advent of landlords with multiple holding and favourable tax treatment of landlords which Labour’s capital gains tax was meant to address.

In Christchurch there is the added feature that the place has been wrecked twice by earthquakes.

In the rest of the country the real estate market is essentially stagnant apart from in localised areas such as Queenstown and Wanaka.  It seems that the RMA works perfectly well in those areas.

The announcement is frustratingly short of detail.  It is a collection of a string of slogans with no detail.  In particular what changes to sections 6 and 7 of the RMA are proposed of the RMA have not been detailed.

But stand by for a debate where National stooges will claim that the RMA is causing the housing crisis.  We can solve the problem.  All we have to do is be prepared for slum areas to be built in Auckland.

Update:  With his usual clarity Rob Salmond on Polity has also addressed this issue.  He has pointed out that the suggested savings will achieve very little in terms of making housing more affordable.

How much cheaper? Treasury commissioned *a little* work on this, in that they asked some developers how much the RMA regulations cost them. The answer the developers gave was around $15,000 per house, or around $30,000 per apartment.

Now, not even Nick Smith is talking about getting rid of environmental regulations entirely. So if the current cost is $15,000-30,000, what is the new cost? Nobody seems to have a figure for that. Certainly not Nick Smith in his speech last night.

Let’s be generous here. Assume (1) the developers are being completely honest in what the RMA is costing them, and are not over-egging the pudding one little bit. Also assume that (2) Nick Smith can cut the RMA compliance costs completely in half. That’s a huge ask, but let’s assume he can do it. Then we will have – wait for it, a $7,500-$15,000 one time reduction in the cost of building a new house / apartment.

Let’s be even more generous. Now assume that, (3) through completely entirely frictionless perfectly competitive market forces, that saving automatically translates into a one off reduction in the sale price of absolutely all the other properties in Auckland. (Yes, it is a ludicrous assumption, but hear me out.)

Even if those three heroic assumptions come to pass, Auckland house prices would drop (once you average out houses and apartments) by about $10,000, one off. Which would make Auckland’s “severely unaffordable” score of 8.2 in the Demographia survey drop amazingly to a “severely affordable” 8.06.I will post separately on the shortcomings of the Demographia survey itself. Whoop-de-fricken-do.

Any progress is good, of course, but pretending RMA reform is a main solution is, as you see above, laughable.

84 comments on “Nick Smith’s RMA reforms – low cost housing in Epsom? ”

  1. saveNZ 1

    Nick Smith and David Seymour – one word simpletons.

    Treasury should have no place in the RMA especially some pathetic report based on 16 developer mates feelings which then get to influence the simpleminded politicians and MSM.

    The government wants to gut the RMA and to fast track through subdivisions and consents for their rich mates who are NOT building affordable houses but spec houses largely for upper middle class and the rich and DRIVING UP prices of houses. In addition gutting the RMA to make it easier and less accountable to polluters.

    Fancy a power pylon next to you, an oil spill like Rena, not being able to collect rainwater in the future but have to pay some corporation for water. It is all in the cards and forget compensation. Instead you might have to compensate the polluter if you lose in court by not having the same legal spending as the big polluters and the RMA focus so narrow you will have virtually no property rights at all.

    You won’t get any sunlight into your home as your neighbour exercises his right to go above the height to boundary guidelines. effectively privatising public spaces. (i.e. the right of shared space in-between dwellings).

    Fancy a brothel, liquor store or private gambling club. No problem – that’s helping the economy stupid! Don’t be selfish, thinking your amenity should get in the way of someones right to make a dollar next door to you!

  2. Lanthanide 2

    I don’t know that there is a ‘failure of the market’ in Christchurch. There really is a lot of home-building going on, and no shortage of reasonably-located housing developments going on.

    Now, the entry price for the house-and-land packages is about $600,000, and for that you’d get a ~170m house. So probably it comes back to the fact that we’re not building smaller houses any more because developers can’t get enough profit from it to justify it. But there are also areas of medium and high density houses and apartments; most subdivisions have land set aside for this. I haven’t looked at the price of them since I’m not in that market.

    • mickysavage 2.1

      There is a failure in that there is scarcity and out of control rental prices.

      • Lanthanide 2.1.1

        Sounds like the market is working exactly the way it is supposed to – lower supply pushes houses up, encouraging more supply.

        Since there are a huge number of houses being built at the moment, as a result of the market, I don’t think saying there is market failure is accurate.

        • All is not sweetness and light in Christchurch.
          The Council (ratepayers) are being forced to pay for King Gerry’s huge projects in the city centre.
          42% of insurance claims have not been settled. Hundreds of people have still not been properly compensated for redzoned land.

          CERA has fast tracked the new Hagley Oval, Theatre Royal, and plans a $7m redevelopment of Victoria Park. Lots of nice things in the city centre for Gerry’s wealthy white constituency to enjoy. Meanwhile the Eastern suburbs still look like the quakes only happened a few days ago.

          Bizarre and sad.

        • Murray Rawshark 2.1.1.2

          The market is designed to make profit for the 1%. What we need is affordable housing for our people. Therefore the market fails in the same way as a fish fails to ride a bicycle. We need to kick the bloody market out of most types of housing. NAct, and probably Labour, intend to introduce their foul market into state housing as well.

          If the market is encouraging more supply, what is it supply of? It’s certainly not houses that can be lived in by someone on $30,000. Also, as long as foreigners can buy the new supply, prices won’t go down. FJK and FTM too.

      • Truth Will Out 2.1.2

        “There is a failure in that there is scarcity and out of control rental prices.”

        Key is a master of manufacturing crises to create the impression that people or the market need rescuing, so that he can ride in like a knight in shining armour and win the approval of all of the idiots who fall for his game every time.

        Casting a weary eye over this whole process, there is no doubt in my mind that his government has deliberately constructed this crisis in order to make a case for rapid and ruthless changes to the RMA, without needing Labour’s approval if push comes to shove.

        This is the fundamental shift here.

        He is on record over a year ago saying he would prefer Labour’s support on the issue, because he knows it’s a political hot potato.

        What better way to let the tension build to crisis point like this and then ram through the changes without needing Labour’s support?

        And the public will breathe a sigh of relief and forget about the potential impact on the environment in return for more affordable houses.

        Labour is now damned if they do and damned if they don’t on this issue.

        Classic Key tactics.

  3. Sabine 3

    we already have the slums in Auckland. One has only got to go to the subdivision / unit night mare that is Royal Oak.
    Have an outbreak of the flu there and bingo presto you have an epidemic.

    As for the lovely people in Epsom, Ponsonby, Remuera and other million dollar subburbs…get used to the fact that this city is changing and with it your neighbourhood

    I think they call it Karma.

    • Rob 3.1

      Lol , you call Royal Oak a slum. Thats gold.

      • sabine 3.1.1

        i have lived in royal oak….subdivision with no space between the individual rows of badly build and crappily insulated units.

        give it a year or three and most of the stuff will look unsightly, and fall apart. build fast and on the cheap, rented for as much money as possible…with no escape from the guys living next door.

        I have been a tenant all my life and the same counts for my family…in germany we rent, we also have double glazing, insulation against noise and pollution, no guaranteed parking other then on the road and no 6 month tenancy contracts.

        believe me Royal Oak is a future slum.

        Plattenbau….ack ack ack

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plattenbau

        it does not age well.

  4. Sabine 4

    another thing that I would like to point out.

    No house in AKL is worth more than a 1.50$ as effectively they are all just rotten heeps of wood held together with some glue and paint and fancy decorations.

    however the land on which the pile of wood stands is worth something in terms of speculation.

    So the rotten castle in Grey Lynn ( lived there for twenty years and have seen some amazing things in rental properties there) is worth nothing, the land however used to be 38.000$ in 89 (a friend bought then), last she was offered almost 2 million. However, she could not buy anything like she has now for that amount. Her house is the same that she bought in 89….fixed the roof once, painted it every 5 years, bit of back yard and a bit of a front yard.

    but a developer could build something there 5 – 6 stories high, squeezing in a 5 – 12 appartments. …

    we don’t have a housing issue, we have a rampant speculation issue.

    • mickysavage 4.1

      Right on Sabine. We also need to look at what for instance some of the German and Scandinavian cities are doing and emulate that.

    • repateet 4.2

      Imagine all those great green sections in Remuera and Epsom with the rules gone.
      So much money to be made with nine or more storied blocks on every section. Where do the people live who want open slather, who say Auckland needs to stretch to Hamilton and Whangarei? When there is so much under utilised land close to the city centre? David Seymour surely will be into it boots and all getting rid of all those restrictions which stop the progress and impinge on people doing what people want to do. Including of course making money.

      If there are no great moves from him to these ends I’ll assume it’s simply the reluctance to have to be knocking on something like 53, 000 doors next time around!

  5. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 5

    …increased landowner rights will mean more medium density in your electorate.

    Which is a bad thing?

    • tracey 5.1

      you will need to ask Mr Seymour

    • mickysavage 5.2

      I think that quality medium density housing in the inner city that complies with good urban design in the inner city area is a good idea Gormless Fool. As Tracey says it seems that Seymour does not. Although he thinks that people should have as much freedom to do what they want with their land as possible.

  6. ON NatRadio this morning when Nick Smith was asked how much changes to the RMA would mean in dollar terms on the cost of a house he rubbished the idea of such a simplistic way of looking at the situation.

    Yet the whole RMA business is being put out and being sold on the basis of making housing more affordable. Simplistic is good when you’re the one holding the conductor’s baton.

    They will introduce their changes and by the time those take affect the cost of building a house will far exceed what it was when the change process started. Crass, cynical, simplistic political manoeuvring.

    • tracey 6.1

      So, Smith wasnt able to guarantee that the costs outlined by Treasury and which have led to his overhaul of the RMA will be passed on to home buyers at all? How strange.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1

        RMA reform has nothing to do with house prices and everything to do with lowering standards so that the developers can make even higher profits building sub-standard housing. 10 years from now we will have another leaky building fiasco courtesy of National and de-regulation.

  7. Sans Cle 7

    Local councils comply with the:
    Building Act
    Resource Management Act
    Local Government Act
    Health and Safety Act
    Chartered Professional Engineers of New Zealand Act
    Construction Contracts Act
    Registered Architects Act
    Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Act

    Part of the costs of compliance come from all these different Acts, increasing inspection costs. Local government are tasked with monitoring and making sure that these Acts are implemented.
    It is disingenuous to blame one single piece of legislation (RMA) for all the increases in compliance costs (red tape).

    With regards to housing affordability, I think it has little to do with compliance costs, and more to do with low wages. The Demographia report is calculated by the price of housing divided by income. All the focus has been on the cost of housing, but little attention given to our low wage economy – the denominator in the equation.
    Our incomes are low relative to other nations, who are investing here; We are competing with overseas investors, with excess capital/investment, who can buy land and houses in NZ.
    This message gets lost in the complexity of trying to understand what is driving house prices.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      Our incomes are low relative to other nations, who are investing here; We are competing with overseas investors, with excess capital/investment, who can buy land and houses in NZ.
      This message gets lost in the complexity of trying to understand what is driving house prices.

      QFT

      The solution to housing affordability is complex but just outright banning foreign ownership would go a long way.

  8. adam 8

    Micky, between you and Rob I’m finally getting some news, and analysis on this issue. What is rather disappointing is the propaganda puff pieces which seem to dominate the TV news and the print media – over this issue.

    Again nepotism seems to be the natural response of this national government.

    Not much point making people’s lives better and working for the whole company/country – when you can make a few extra bucks for your mates.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 8.1

      You dont expect their ‘journalists’ to understand the slightest thing about the RMA or what it does ?

      They have 30 s to say ….. well its just easier to repeat the talking points in the press release, and presto they dont have to worry their pretty little heads anymore.

  9. tracey 9

    Julie-Anne Genter says

    ““Some poor district plan rules are adding unnecessarily to the cost of new housing but these can be addressed without attacking the heart of the RMA.

    “National’s real goal here is to undermine hard-fought environmental protections which ensure a high quality of life in our neighbourhoods and communities

    “National’s radical changes to the RMA won’t build a single new, affordable home.

    “The last time National deregulated the building industry to drive down costs, we ended up with an expensive legacy of leaky homes.

    “Gutting the RMA will lead to ugly, sprawling suburbs, higher levels of traffic congestion, and the loss of the natural environment we love and have fought to protect,” said Ms Genter.

    “The Green Party would increase the supply of affordable housing by undertaking a programme of state building, introduce a capital gains tax, and introduce a Progressive Ownership initiative to allow families to ‘rent-to-own’ government-built houses at an affordable price.””

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1501/S00091/national-fails-to-produce-evidence-justifying-attack-on-rma.htm

    • Skinny 9.1

      Julie-Anne Genter is a real gem and comes highly qualified, more so in Urban/Transport planning then goof balls from Nact. I love it that she lives with a bus stop out front so she can catch it to and from the Auckland airport. Outside of the Greens and Labours Iain Lees Galloway (who often catches a train) I doubt you would see many MP’s using public transport.

  10. Brendon Harre 11

    There are two videos here about the housing crisis below. First is Nick Smith then there Hugh Pavletich who co-authors the Demographia survey. He is a retired developer, didn’t seem to be interviewed by the Mobie report and has left the development industry and gone into housing affordability campaigning because of concern that the industry is rorting its customers.

    http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/no-silver-bullet-housing-minister-video-6222167

    http://tvnz.co.nz/breakfast-news/rma-reforms-not-enough-affordability-crisis-video-6222176

    Most people can see that National is just tinkering. Even Nick Smith says it is not enough, it is isn’t a ‘silver bullet.

    If it isn’t a silver bullet why isn’t the government bringing out its six shooters and firing off a more effective salvo? Hugh makes some suggestions and the opposition parties seem to have a six shooter strategy. They have different policy targets but they can point to places around the world where it works.

    Has anyone noticed the way John Key absents himself from major policy announcements. Conveniently being out of the country. Thus avoiding being held to account for his governments actions.

    Yet even Whaleoil can see this is a pivotal issue, far more important than rubbing hands with a few foreign rich pricks at Davos, that the success or failure of this government is dependent on an effective strategy to housing, that tinkering around will not be enough. Here is Whaleoils words.

    “1. Do nothing, be hammered by Phil Twyford and Andrew Little and eventually lose the next election because the housing woes get worse and New Zealanders get sick of it – voting for change out of desperation.” http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2015/01/thoughts-special-housing-area-debacle/

    Maybe John Key needs another ‘cut the crap’ lesson on effective government.

    • It’s because Key is above politics, he is more like the divinely appointed sovereign of Aotearoa. He can’t be seen getting his hands on mucky policy, when there is important stuff to do like inspiring the All Blacks and golfing in Hawaii.

      • Brendon Harre 11.1.1

        The divinely appointed sovereign is a naked bugger, pretending to look cool and nobody is telling him otherwise. Isn’t it time somebody tells him to get dressed?

  11. The release of the $15,000 compliance cost figure was an own goal by Smith. I would have thought it was far higher. And he can’t be saying he will abolish all urban design standards etc, so he can’t claim to be able to reduce the $15,000 to zero. Let’s say he halves it: a reduction of $7,500 in the cost of building a new house is immaterial.

    • Skinny 12.1

      Let’s talk about landbankers Hooton, and the threatening tone they talk if any Government dare moot a snack and grab move. Done any lobbying for this rich heeled group?

    • tracey 12.2

      didnt salmond write that in the post?

      you happy with a 3 to 4 level apartment casting a shadow over outdoor area beside your house matthew?

      • Skinny 12.2.1

        My sister and her husband who live in Epsom are such hypocrites. They have a 3 level home (they extended upwards) with a large flat back section. Over the weekend they were visiting me where I took them to a party on an American friends super yacht. Her partner is a former remmers boy (like brotherinlaw) the pair of them were bemoaning the likelihood of their leafy haven area’s being spoilt by the apartment boom and possibly future slackening of restrictions. The former Miss America contestant, myself and partner were mocking the crap out of them, so much so they resorted to type and started sledging us for being socialist. My yank mate sings so we arranged our own little version of bohemian rhapsody “your just 2 spoilt remmers boys, greedy little remmers boys… with no social conscience.. Chorus daddy’s boys daddy boys… the pair of youu”

        Gave us socialist a laugh 🙂

      • 1. Ah yes, so he did. Great minds must think alike!
        2. No. And that won’t be allowed will it, or at least not without a fight in the courts. Which is why it’s difficult to see how the $15,000 figure can be reduced by much, if at all.

        • tracey 12.2.2.1

          1. or one mind didn’t read the post properly in haste to be commenting
          2. Did you write a submission to Council objecting to any such permissions and did you also include a blanket objection to it being done anywhere?

        • Skinny 12.2.2.2

          Far better the Government free up state housing land to property ‘speculators’ in prime locations over looking majestic sea views above Mission Bay. Something National openly campaigned on?

    • stever 12.3

      Yeah a hostage given to fortune there!

      Now perhaps we have that figure we should ask what cost savings there exist in the huge developers-building materials suppliers-builders-estate agents chain.

      Must be tons of scope given all those stages. For example, does the cost of wood in NZ seem right? I’m always amazed at how expensive it is. But that’s my little anecdote…let’s see some research.

      Come on Treasury…do your stuff on that.

  12. Brendon Harre 13

    A six shooter strategy has to include getting land prices down to rural prices on the outskirts of a city (and as low as possible within the city) as Raf Manji said last October. http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/10595493/Planning-costs-linked-to-poverty

    “Finance Minister Bill English said this week the cost and complexity of getting council consent to build a house were major causes of poverty because they drove up house prices.
    Council strategy and finance committee deputy chairman Cr Raf Manji said English’s comments were “fair enough”.
    “I wouldn’t have used such strong language, but I think councils have been a major problem in constricting land supply,” he said.
    Local government planning rules were not the only issue and the Government needed to play a more active role to help solve the city’s housing problems, Manji said.
    “The Government should just buy out waves of rural land on the outskirts of the city . . . and build 5000 to 10,000 homes on it. The price of the land would be at rural prices and that’s where you get your affordable housing.”
    Land rezoning led to “huge windfall capital gains” for the owner, but did not reduce house prices, Manji said.
    “The first shot has been fired at councils – that’s fair enough – but now we need to all sit down together to see how we’re going to get houses finished for $250,000.”

    There is two ways of lowering the land rent curve so it is anchored down by rural land prices.

    1. Get rid of UGBs and allow something like MUDs (think new small councils started by private or public developers providing satellite towns) so new urban areas do not need to connect to old three waters (fresh, storm and sewage) infrastructure and can finance their own infrastructure, thus landbankers cannot hoard and extort huge prices for strategically located land near old infrastructure.

    2. Compulsory acquire land at rural prices for public housing using something like the Singapore or Japanese public housing models, this has provided housing at between 3 and 5 median multiples (cf. Auckland 8.2) despite having some of the biggest cities (Japan) or the most unfavourable geographic constraints (Singapore).

    I believe that the housing crisis is so severe in NZ that a combination of 1. and 2. is necessary.

    The governments two shot strategy of focusing on only consents/ RMA reforms combined with subsidies for first home buyers will not work and appears disingenuous. They are more about allowing exploitative environmental practices -anywhere, rather than providing a package of reforms that will allow our urban areas to become more affordable.

    New Zealand needs a six-shooter and a new gun slinger……

    Without this, the future looks pretty ugly.

  13. fisiani 14

    Why the focus on Auckland? The RMA cripples New Zealand not just Auckland. The MInister has announced reforms that will have majority support in Parliament ( The Greens as usual will be nihilistic) .
    The reforms are long overdue and hopefully will pass into law this year.

    • Draco T Bastard 14.1

      The RMA doesn’t cripple NZ at all. In fact, it saves NZ from being a trainwreck of a society. Of course, the trainwreck is what National wants as it allows them to be even more corrupt and to turn NZ fully into the Banana Republic that they want it to be.

      • fisiani 14.1.1

        Such a pessimist Draco. New Zealand is now a great place and a far better place than it was in 2008 when Michael Cullen pursuing a scorched earth policy gleefully gloated that the cupboard was bare. Even that was another lie as there on the back shelf of the cupboard were a pile of unopened bills.
        The current RMA fails to recognise the reality of the 21st century and needs updated and streamlined. Even the Labour Party admit this. New Zealand is certainly not corrupt. It is being turned into a Pavlova Paradise.

        • Draco T Bastard 14.1.1.1

          The current RMA fails to realise the need for sustainability. After the reforms it’s going to be even worse and the capitalists will gleefully destroy our environment for their own enrichment and aggrandisement.

          National is destroying this country and society but that’s what happens when psychopaths are in charge.

        • stever 14.1.1.2

          “The current RMA fails to recognise the reality of the 21st century”

          This is intriguing…some examples?

        • tracey 14.1.1.3

          it doesnt take account of climate change at all, but i dont think that is what fizzy means.

    • tracey 14.2

      ask the minister fizzy he is the one claiming the rma is why houses are so expensive in auckland.

      • McFlock 14.2.1

        I was intrigued at a comment in the news that they reckon the RMA stopped 40,000 homes being built in the last decade.

        And yet building an extra 100,000 homes in the coming decade was apparently a pipe dream, even though almost half of it could apparently have been achieved simply by fast-tracking the resource management process for the new government housing schemes.

        • Herodotus 14.2.1.1

          If the claim was correct the 40,000 homes would have been delayed in being built, not stopped. Since 2008 the main reason why development dramatically decreased was due to reluctant banks in providing funding. The Australian banks stopped most land and construction development, in many cases I am aware of them insisted on debt being repaid, and it is in the last 2 years that funding has been made available, then there is the 1-2 years of pre planning consents etc then there is the time it takes for construction.
          And fast tracking is only a partial solution, as infrastructure e.g. stormwater,gas , water, waste water, telecom, roading etc still has to be provided, which requires these providers to extend their infrastructure.

        • tracey 14.2.1.2

          it’s a flimsy smokescreen but sadly enough to bedazzle what passes for journalism and analysis of Minister’s utterances in this country.

    • lprent 14.3

      Why the focus on Auckland?

      Because the numerically illiterate klutz known as Nick Smith claimed that it would help speed up fixing the housing issues in Auckland (and Christchurch). For a start the building act might be a whole lot more relevant.

      Perhaps you should ask the fool why he said that? It will do sweet fuck all for housing in Auckland.

      The reality is that this is primarily a way to speed up raping the land in farming, forestry and mining areas. Which is why when you go down the Canterbury plains these days even in winter they have dry rivers, dry land, and irrigators turn water into poisonousness cowpiss.

  14. Ad 15

    Auckland Council should be the most in the gun, not government. The housing crisis is 90% Auckland’s fault.

    Council’s Unitary Plan has left most of the Auckland isthmus specifically exempt from ever allowing higher density/affordable housing to ever be built. Councillors voted for this under a false code of “heritage values”. In reality those exempt suburbs just happen to be the whitest, richest, most-gentrified, most regularly voting, most school-zone protective suburbs in the country.

    There are about a dozen or so small town centers where higher density will be allowed. But even in those town centers, Council – even with its new proposed property company – isn’t going to lift a finger to accelerate the market and get higher density/affordable houses going.

    Sure they’ve formed Special Housing Areas. But in fact the only successful new housing of any scale in Auckland done in the last decade that the public sector had any hand in at all is Hobsonville. Formed under the Helen Clark administration. Fully master planned, with Police, health, education, transport, parks, shops, etc etc right from the start. Council could have seen this model and done something about it. Nope. Ormiston in Flat Bush is but a shadow of Hobsonville.

    Auckland Council already has powers under the Public Works Act to acquire more land for housing purposes. Instead it’s been selling its land off for years, just to get cash in. It also has the Waterfront Company leading the way in high-end brown fields development – but that’s where it ends.

    Instead Council has chosen not to act, encouraged sprawl, and allow the housing market to run away with itself. The housing crisis in Auckland (which is 90% of the national problem) is in no small part caused by Auckland Council.

    • lprent 15.1

      Council’s Unitary Plan has left most of the Auckland isthmus specifically exempt from ever allowing higher density/affordable housing to ever be built. Councillors voted for this under a false code of “heritage values”.

      That I partially agree with.

      We will eventually need to get rid of those silly damn rules from Herne Bay to Grey Lynn to Parnell. Leave a few nice examples next to parks and bulldoze a pile of the space wasting villas.

      However in the meantime there are enough areas of commercial/residential where those daft rules do not apply for the immediate needs. The rate that apartment blocks are going up over the car yards on the old commercial spaces at the end of KRd just up from me is breathtaking. These were largely underway before they were designated as high priority area as well.

      There are a *lot* of those types of areas to fill. That pocket of old businesses between Eden Park and Morningside drive for instance.

      • tracey 15.1.1

        you can see the change to kingsland since apartments went up too… now they just have to incorporate quality soundproofing and get smallpet friendly.

        • lprent 15.1.1.1

          Yes. Soundproofing is cheap. It is damn near silent in my apartment.

          They should also incorporate parking or provide some rapid car removal services for street parking. You may not drive as much when you are in an apartment, but most people still have a car. You need it to get to your parents periodically.

          Pets are an issue. My cat went kind of nuts in my apartment over time.

          • sabine 15.1.1.1.1

            gotta give up the car if you want to live in a high density, urban setting. Cars and lot’s of people do not go well.

            What needs to be done is to encourage Walking, Bicycling and public Transport/Tram.

            Nice in the South of france has extremely high population density, no space what so ever as the city is essentially wedged in between the Alpes and the Mediteranee. A few years a go they closed down roads, ripped them up and build a Tram. Everywhere now there is the Tram. Next the department of the Alpes Maritimes – South of France to us made the cost of all public transport within their region 1 euro, It did not matter if you went from La Promenade in nice to the Gare de Biot some 30 kms away, it was 1 euro. Up the mountain in the bus it used to cost us 80 francs one way to go from Nice to Auron, with price increases it is now at 1.50 euros, or about 15 francs.
            Guess what, People do not own cars anymore. They rent them when they need them, but they don’t own them.
            http://en.nicetourisme.com/bus-and-tramway

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nice_tramway

            so what needs to be improved on at the same time we build all those crappy plattenbau units is infrastructure, pedestrian walk ways, cycle ways, shopping areas that are car free…etc etc etc.

            • mickysavage 15.1.1.1.1.1

              And we need to factor in the health benefits when we do this. Health benefits are not considered in NZ when decisions on transport infrastructure are made.

            • lprent 15.1.1.1.1.2

              We currently have a long way to go before we can give up cars.

              I use a tank of petrol roughly every 8 weeks (and steadily rising). It is mostly used for

              * weekly supermarket trips – we get way too much to take on bus, I can and have used taxis which adds 20% to the shop,
              * political meetings – public transport to west or south auckland is crap and you wind up kilometres from where you want to go, taxis are super expensive,
              * movies – getting a taxi to arrive on time is a real VARIABLE problem. It can take 5 minutes or 30 and both of us have really tight schedules on fridays when we usually do that,
              * visiting people at places like Bethells beach (try getting public transport to there),
              * my parents in Rotorua about 2.5-3 hours each way (public transport is close to 6 hours each way, rental cars are effectively about 4 hours each way by the time you bus to them and hundreds of dollars),
              * etc

              It is considerably simpler to have a car for those odd and often opportunistic events. And if you don’t happen to have a car, then you have some storage space (put a well locked shed in the parking space)

              • Brendon Harre

                If NZ transitioned from two or more cars per household to one which is the norm in Europe that would make a huge difference…..

    • Herodotus 15.2

      “Ormiston in Flat Bush is but a shadow of Hobsonville.”, yet in Orminston rd the police station is less than a km away, shops are waiting to be built after council went in to a jv initially with Nigel Mckenna now Todds, unfortunately 7 years later development has just commenced, extensive 94 h.a. Sir Barry Curtis park boarders on Orminston Rd, there are 5 schools within 2 ks and another currently under construction, medical centre Chappel Rd. So bar transport (which has been catered for within the district plan) satisfies what you have mentioned is lacking.
      http://www.stuff.co.nz/auckland/local-news/eastern-courier/707015/Flat-Bush-town-centre-on-the-map

  15. NZJester 16

    It is ridiculous that these changes to the RMA are based on what property developers have told the government has been holding up their projects and costing them money with no evidence need to prove what they have said is fact.
    If you let property developers set the RMA rules they will soon be setting up apartments that would make the inside of a shipping container look roomy by comparison and councils will not be able to stop their plans.

    National are overlooking the real evidence that the out of control pricing of houses has nothing at all to do with the RMA. It is the fact that overseas buyers and the well off can easily afford to out bid first home buyers and then turn the homes into rental properties.

  16. Pete George 17

    “The quality of the thinking of National’s support party leaves a lot to be desired. ”

    Local government supports sensible change to the RMA

    Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) has welcomed change to the RMA signalled by Hon Dr Nick Smith in his annual speech to Nelson Rotary yesterday and looks forward to working with the Government to implement these changes.

    LGNZ President Lawrence Yule said local government supports the direction of travel the Minister has signalled.

    “Local government’s role is to implement the Resource Management Act. As such, local authorities want a law that is simpler and less complex to manage, and one that provides better outcomes for both communities and the economy,” says Mr Yule.

    “There is too much process prescribed by the current RMA and the Motu report, also released alongside Dr Smith’s speech, now puts a cost on this. Instead, we need an Act that creates more affordable housing, builds jobs and creates business and economic growth, within an environment of managing our vital natural resources.”

    LGNZ agrees that we need to find ways to give stakeholders and communities better certainty and avoid costly litigation.

    “We have long said that the process to make or change local rules is too time consuming. Removing the ability to appeal a council decision on plans will achieve certainty for all parties more quickly. The Motu report notes how important certainty is, that there is a cost when we don’t have this,” says Mr Yule.

    LGNZ also says that the RMA needs substantial work to get a better balance between development and environmental protection, and between consistent national direction and local variation.

    “Looking at housing in particular, the RMA needs to better provide for urban development but within environmental limits. We’re advocating for a faster, simpler model such as that under the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act that many councils have adopted.” says Mr Yule.

    “But also, let’s not lose sight of why regulations are in place: our communities value heritage, views of significant places and sunlight to adjoining properties. Communities want to be involved in shaping where they live and work.”

    Mr Yule says councils across New Zealand will be working collaboratively with the Government to shape, simplify, reduce and remove unnecessary rules; and put in place new provisions to enable local government to proactively manage natural hazard risk, including coastal erosion and flooding.

    • mickysavage 17.1

      My comment was aimed at David Seymour and his claim to support the maximisation of individual rights to develop their properties whichever way they want to and his opposition to medium density in the Epsom electorate. Seems to be a clear case of hypocrisy IMHO.

  17. Brendon Harre 18

    Gold Strike! Gold Strike! Land bought in 1995 for $890,000 – owner will sell for $112m! http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10887742

    There is gold in the hills of Auckland! Strike it while you can. Buy your plot. Strike it rich!

    The gold seam runs from the metropolitan urban limit to the CBD.

    The really adventurous prospector can really strike it lucky by buying outside the urban limit, near favourable lines of fresh water, storm water and sewerage. Then wait for the map to be changed by their friendly Council or those Housing Accord guys.

    Gold fever, what could go wrong?

    • Murray Rawshark 18.1

      A council with balls would zone that land as rural. Maybe the RMA could be altered to allow rural zoning for speculator’s property anywhere in the country. I’d be able to hear the screams from across the ditch.

  18. gnomic 19

    Is this the Nick Smith who is a celebrated goof, formerly deselected by other National MPs as deputy leader within 30 seconds [fact finder fill in correct details please]?

    Perhaps an ideal candidate to announce the policies of the Property Council of NZ? No, I apologise, I must have had a mental aberration there. Many of the wise and good must have had input as stakeholders, not merely developers. And of course Nick would not wish developers to hold their fellow citizens to ransom.

    I wouldn’t put him in charge of a coconut shy. But as a 3rd world country I expect we should have slums, and do away with urban planning. Which is what this amounts to.

    Like me, Nick probably won’t have to live with the consequences of this idiocy. Sorry for you people of 2050.

    Yup, whatever the problem, urban sprawl and central city slums are the answer, And don’t forget more roads, also an essential component of The Answer (TM).

    PS I think it is time for Len Brown to spend more time with his family. He never was a very good clown. Likewise the singing and dancing.

  19. vto 20

    Nick Smith put the average house price in Auckland up by $20,000, when he put GST up. Fact.

    The arguments made by the right wing in this are full of so much fucking bullshit ….

    I mean, basing the largest review of the RMA ever on interviews with 16 developers ….. bring in the Fair Trading Act for politicians as Nick Smith is over his head in misleading and deceptive conduct.

    Deceiving bastard.

  20. vto 21

    The public needs to watch out as casting Auckland housing affordability as the main driver for RMA reform is a dupe….

    watch all those other resource consent applications that genuinely are a threat to the environment, in many other spheres, come to pass ….. examples ……

    Small west coast gold miners running amok even more
    Farmers applying to build piggeries and other such activities in completely inappropriate locations.
    Large businesses building large-effect plants, factories etc with no environmental protection
    Businesses applying to dump their shit in more rivers (to help Amy Adams achieve her pollution levels so we cant swim in or drink from rivers)
    Colonials trying to build roads through Fiordland (even though we cant even keep the current roads maintained and opened)

    These sorts of activities are the ones that the Nats are trying to allow… don’t be duped

  21. barry 22

    Speaking of NIMBYism in Epsom. Have NACT dropped the Auckland and Epsom Girls Grammar school zones yet?

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