RMA reforms … be very afraid

Written By: - Date published: 9:00 am, January 20th, 2015 - 95 comments
Categories: act, Environment, greens, housing, labour, national, national/act government, peter dunne, sustainability - Tags: , , ,

Key my work here is done

In 2013 National released proposals for reform of the Resource Management Act.  I blogged about the changes here.  The announcement by Minister Amy Adams is here but for some freaking reason the document appears to have disappeared from MFE’s website although there is this Web Archive download of the page.

The reforms followed the usual modus operandi of the Government.  Use anecdotal evidence to justify sweeping changes.  Announce a whole lot of different areas of reform.  Move quickly and trust that confusion will set in.

At the time I said this:

National is utterly predictable.  Bash beneficiaries, weaken employee protection, attack the trade unions, and trash the environment represents for it business as usual.

Yesterday it announced its proposal for further changes to the Resource Management Act.  Most of the changes are technical and it will be difficult to get ordinary Kiwis upset with what is proposed.  But the changes are at best misguided and will do nothing to maintain existing environmental protection.

When you read the press release the proposes do not appear so bad.  The one plan idea is something that Auckland is doing already.  And who can disagree with increased accountability?

The headline grabbing proposal will be increasing the supply of useable land so that there is a decade’s worth available for projected growth.  National sees a political imperative in appearing to be doing something about housing affordability.

The Minister will be given greater power to intervene.  The party that championed [attacks on] Nanny State is more than happy to give itself increased power as long as it is the party in control.

The Summary of Reform Proposals also released yesterday contains worrying detail.

Sections 6 and 7 of the RMA are to be consolidated into one section.  This is a retrograde step.  Section 6 currently states that the protection of various environmental features are matters of national significance.  Section 7 sets out other things that need to be considered.  Consolidating them will weaken the protective imperatives in the Act.

The proposed new wording for the section has a number of damaging changes.  The new section would remove the need to protect outstanding natural features and landscapes unless they are specifically identified.  The protection of historic heritage from inappropriate subdivision and development is watered down.  The ethic of stewardship for the environment is removed.  The maintenance and enhancement of amenity values will no longer be a consideration.  And the maintenance and enhancement of the quality of the environment disappears as a principle.

A new principle is added.  If passed the effective functioning of the built environment, including the availability of land to support changes in population and urban development demand, will be a major consideration when making decisions under the RMA.

When you compare the existing wording of sections 6 and 7 to what is proposed you can see that it is intended that the environmental protection provided by the RMA will be weakened.

Both Labour and the Greens opposed the proposals.  Maryan Street said at the time:

By saying that these reforms will open up land for affordable housing is the most deceitful part of John Key’s approach. The government has lots of levers it should have pulled over the last five years to address our critical affordable housing shortage. Now when the noise around it has become too loud for the National Party to ignore any longer, they try to pretend that the RMA has been the problem.

The real danger is that the RMA is being turned into an Economic Development Act and environmental protections are being sacrificed in the process.

And the Greens Eugene Sage said this:

The changes to the Act’s purpose and principles are based on ideology rather than any evidence or substantive analysis of the need for change.  As the Ministry for the Environment’s on the Minister’s February 2013 discussion document says, “ Submitters were concerned there was an absence of reliable evidence – beyond anecdotes and case studies- on which statements were made. Such concerns were evident irrespective of the submitters’ position regarding the intent of the Discussion Document.”

The bill stalled.  Peter Dunne grew a spine and along with the Maori Party told John Key they would not support the bill.  National and in particular Amy Adams had a great deal of egg on their faces.  National then said that they would review the proposals after the election.

Nick Smith is to announce proposed changes to the RMA tomorrow and to release a treasury paper on the issue.  As Ad noted this is frankly weird.  Surely the Ministry for the Environment, not Treasury, should be the department to announce changes.  I agree we have reason to be very afraid.

Presumably the previous proposed changes will again be announced.  Smith has said that the reforms will also address what changes to strategic housing area laws will be made as the SHA provisions are subject to a sunset clause.  I anticipate that major features of the changes will be the head on attack of any concept of a compact city, the further removal of rights of individuals and communities to have a say in proposed developments and further measures to make the RMA developer friendly.

The Act is meant to be there to provide some environmental protection.  Environmental standards are getting worse, not better.  I think we have reason to be very afraid with what National is intending.

 

 


lprent: As anticipated National is pressing ahead with the same failed plan from last time

Smith signalled that National was reviewing the most contentious of its proposed reforms of the RMA, covering changes to the act’s principles – a move critics have argued would aid development – but otherwise the tone of today’s speech was consistent with the last term.

In other words a figleaf to allow the “blue-greens” to hide their wee genitals behind.

Green MP Julie Anne Genter puts it more clearly in “RMA changes won’t build more homes

The National Government must stop using the Resource Management Act as the straw man for its own failure to build more homes and put an end to the country’s housing crisis, the Green Party says.

Indeed. Despite the blustering bankrupt at Whaleoil whining from the cheap seats that Auckland City Council has been dragging its feet on the Special Housing Areas, the reality is that the legislation was as unnecessary as the these RMA ‘reforms’ are.

The reality is that even if the price of fuel drops to half of what it is now, the jobs aren’t out in the rural countryside that Nick Smiths mates have land-banked. There isn’t enough fast efficient public transport to get residents to jobs.

So the only houses that will be going out that far are supersized MacMansions that will have no effect on house prices driven by the lower end of the market. And developers aren’t building affordable homes. RMA changes make absolutely no difference to that equation.

Basically this government is in the process of dismantling the only long-term solution for affordable homes. The purchasing power of the State Houses.

Stupid fools in National are doing the ideological stupidity again – just as they foisted leaky building on us..

 

 

95 comments on “RMA reforms … be very afraid”

  1. millsy 1

    Making money trumps clean air, water and natural vistas.

    Money money money. I want money. Who cares if we have to wear gas masks to work in town or the local river is choked with toxic waste.

    • Murray Rawshark 1.1

      You’re missing the point. If you can own enough of the new houses, you’ll never have to work again.

  2. framu 2

    WTF is treasury even doing being associated with this anyway? – its high time they stopped being a politicised wing of the public service – or – form their own party.

    And for gods sake media –

    1) stop using what the any MP claim a bill will do as a gospel version of the intent of a bill
    2) start pointing out that increasing land supply wont = cheaper houses!!!!!!!! (the nats and acts own frickin ideology says otherwise for starters)

    ————————————————————-

    and do we have to discuss Little coming out this morning with (paraphrasing) “we also support this bill but could everyone please stop for 20 minutes while i explain the detail of what im saying” – for gods sake – all anyone took from that story was “labour supports nationals RMA reforms”

    Couldnt we have had something more like “Labour supports an honest, independant review of the RMA, but with nationals track record we are highly skeptical of the real purpose of this bill”

    Why the hell are labour ALSO talking about this as if the nats intent is good and fair reform – its not, so why play their framing on the issue.

    Stop jumping on the band wagon – find better ways to say things – drop the “me too” – be the opposition for a change

    ————————————————————-

    OK – rant over, sorry folks. (the RNZ piece this morning got me riled up a bit) 🙂

    • Ross 2.1

      framu, no need for apology. If that is what Little said this morning then, to paraphrase what you eloquently said, WTFF. Little is an Obama to me (so far). Glimpses of promise that get trashed by action on the ground. Yes, framu, we do need to discuss!

      • framu 2.1.1

        its the continual “following the framing” and a utter inability to think of a better way to say something in a simple, concise fashion that gets me

    • Ross 2.2

      Just listened to the audio. Yes, the ONLY message in it is, Labour supports hobbling the RMA. Period. That isn’t what Little was actually saying and good party faithful will no doubt leap to his defense. But perception is all and the message most will hear is, Labour supports National. WTF do we need an opposition for then?

      Couldnt we have had something more like “Labour supports an honest, independant review of the RMA, but with nationals track record we are highly skeptical of the real purpose of this bill”

      How about: “These people have trashed the economy, attacked the poor and defenseless, enriched their mates, massively increased inequality and are rampant climate change deniers. If you think that Labour would support them to bugger the RMA you’re crazy. The answer is NO and we will be doing everything in our power to make sure it doesn’t happen.”

      • tracey 2.2.1

        now “we” on the Left have to trust (based on what??) that if Little succeeds in making the middle think he wll keep on the Nat programme but with a nod to poor folks now and then, he will in government give more of a shit about the poor than the middle?

        • framu 2.2.1.1

          true

          but the take away from the interview was very much national lite – which hasnt worked

          considering these are people who have professional comms people to support them i think we could expect some better use of the english language that demonstrates that labour arent out to get middle NZ – BUT – they arent national lite

          Its not like labour havent ever had their detailed communications reduced to a soundbite that works against them before

      • framu 2.2.2

        “That isn’t what Little was actually saying and good party faithful will no doubt leap to his defense. ”

        yes – thats true. Im very much talking about “the punters in punter land” here

  3. tracey 3

    Hiding the Minister responsible from any backlash?

    Did peter Dunne die after the election? And the Maori Party?

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      “Did peter Dunne die after the election?”

      He was being interviewed this morning on RNZ, saying that he knew absolutely nothing about this new bill because National had not spoken to him about it, and he was taking a ‘wait and see’ approach. He thinks the current RMA forms a good baseline where environmental concerns are a fundamental part of any development, but expects that with National’s changes the environmental concerns will instead just be “one of many” for any development.

  4. saveNZ 4

    In dirty politics type of way, the MSM and government message is to get rid of the RMA and to fast track through subdivisions and consents.

    However who does this benefit? The landowners and people sitting on greenfield land or land in the inner city which can be further subdivided for more houses and apartments or people who want to build a house that infringes on others rights. It also benefit corporations who want to pollute. With the TTPA it will be multi nationals right to pollute.

    Fancy a mine next to you, a McDonalds, not being able to collect rainwater in the future but have to pay some corporation for water. It is all in the cards. 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). Remember the high rises in the CBD that were built right next to each other blocking up the windows, welcome this to a suburb near you!

    There is not a lot of current amenity protection for landowners but it is going to be reduced even further under National.

    The assumption is that the land is the issue for expensive housing in NZ, has been carefully created by the powerful and their ‘focus’ groups but the real reason is far more varied and complicated.

    Building materials is virtually a monopoly. In spite of the leaky building fiasco no building company has ever been held to account as far as I am aware.

    Transport is a major issue, you can build further out, but it costs to drive in everyday.But no consideration is given to this. Current occupants of the city will now have to battle with the 1000’s of new drivers commuting in, everyday.

    The crack down of builders have made them very unwilling to work on cheaper developments or renovations. They prefer the 4 bedroom 3 bathroom central city McMansions, money no object and less risk. There could have been an insurance scheme adopted by council (like earthquake commission levy) but no, just put the onus on the little guy.

    Council fees are horrendous. Last year council increased their fees for resources consents by about 65% as far as I can make out in Auckland.

    Immigration is on the rise, and investing in property one of the ways to get citizenship!

    It is making the poor poorer as Kiwis are being forced out of their houses as land is subdivided around them and build up without looking at it’s effects on neighbours and amenity.

    How this is manifesting is that one neighbour wins by developing a large house out of height to boundary, taking views and sun, without having to do any expert work like structural engineering or geo tech reports or even use a qualified architect or traffic plans (if out of main centres). This is ‘fast tracked’ as supposedly it is ‘helping’ create more houses. However it is not only not affordable, it is driving the prices up in the area, taking away builders from cheaper projects and changing the culture of an area.

    The council do not seem to understand that you need to encourage smaller houses to make them more affordable and more sustainable to reduce living costs in them.

    Planners are salivating like Pavlovs Dogs in a frenzy of destruction to create the world’s most unlivable city in Auckland and probably Christchurch too.

    The ratepayers and taxpayer will pick up the bill as all the issues come to light which are supposed to be picked up in resource consent states but not being assessed properly in the frenzy.

    And the houses, well lets face it, even few current landowners will be able to afford Auckland, they will be tenants in their own cities.

    The writing is on the wall, 1% of landowners are soon to own 99% of the world’s resources and NZ is a total example of how that is working.

  5. Yep the final looting has begun. I said several years ago the the eye of Mordor is upon us. Behold the pending blackness!

    • Heather Grimwood 5.1

      Looting?…..I call it out-and-out rape of our wonderful piece of the globe, it’s beauty and open spaces reduced even in my lifetime through greed.

  6. saveNZ 6

    Pollute More to help the Poor!

  7. saveNZ 7

    Don’t assess just regress!

  8. saveNZ 8

    It’s a pity Labour is being so NationalLite on this, as property rights is one of the big issues for Kiwis and a good way to get support from middle NZ. A house is most Kiwi’s biggest asset and retirement policy and and changes that property are very important to their owners.

    Having a home devalued by a high rise or McMansion, beach covered in oil, fracking coming to a national park near you, trees of importance cut down in your neighbourhood tends to make even hard core National voters think twice. Amenity although devalued in RMA, is actually what makes most people live in a city or suburb and stay there. It is very important to the public.

    Not up on what Labour has to say but judging from comments…… NationalLite.

    PLEASE CUT THE CRAP!

    NZ likes the “cut the crap” version of Little not the NationalLIte.

    Did someone say in this comments…grow a spine?

    • tracey 8.1

      when the “right” to own a home goes up against the environment… just whose side do ya reckon labour will come down on?

      I dont get why the solution has to be one thing (de regulation and sacrifice of environment) over another (log jamming development). We are fucking human beings, why cant we use our creativity? Cos of vested interests, personal and company… Surely we can balance this stuff?

      People Environment Money

      rather than
      Money
      people
      Environment

      or
      environment
      people
      money

      • Naturesong 8.1.1

        Environment
        People
        Money

        No environment = no people, no money.

        If you want people and money, don’t poison your lands or gut your fisheries.

        • McFlock 8.1.1.1

          But if environment is strictly prioritised above all else, there’s no room for people.

          I don’t think we’re anywhere close to that stage, but the fact is that if we wanted the environment to be perfect then all of NZ would be like one of those DoC islands that have highly restricted access for fear of the harm that visitors might do.

          Similarly, chasing the money for cheaper rail cars (despite being a false economy anyway) stuffed a lot of NZ workers’ quality of life.

          I agree with Tracey – it’s a compromise between $$, quality of life, and the environment.

    • Wayne 8.2

      Generally being immediately adjacent to a “McMansion” (or several) will increase the value of your property. It tells buyers that you are in a suburb that is increasing in value.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 8.2.1

        Is this another of your deeply held beliefs, or do you have some real world reason to make that statement?

      • vto 8.2.2

        Hi Wayne, what do you think of this Cree chief’s statement some 200-plus years ago? Uncannily accurate wouldn’t you think? What is your government doing about it? For example – Amy Adams upping the pollutants allowable in rivers to a point that makes them undrinkable? Congratulations – your government has brought this wise chief’s statement to its end point.

        RMA reforms … be very afraid

        “When all the trees have been cut down,
        when all the animals have been hunted,
        when all the waters are polluted,
        when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
        only then will you discover you cannot eat money.”

        What do you think?

      • saveNZ 8.2.3

        Not if a McMansion is poorly designed and infringes on another property’s light, space privacy and views.

        For some people their home is not about money, it is seen as a ‘living’ space to raise a family and their amenity is actually more important to them the property values rising!

        • Wayne 8.2.3.1

          saveNZ,

          Fair point. I was making a more general point about how increases in house quality (provided they are not the ugliest thing on the planet) in a suburb generally raises the capital value of the suburb. And there is a vast amount of evidence to support that proposition

          As it happens, I live in a 100 year old Historic Place Cat 3 house in Bayswater, Auckland, so McMansions are not really my thing.

          Question – would you regard the PM’s place in Parnell as a McMansion, or is it too tastefully done to fall into that category.

          • vto 8.2.3.1.1

            Key’s Omaha beach house is a mcmansion and an old yucky one at that.

            Wayne, I would be interested in your thoughts on my reply to you just above ….

            • Wayne 8.2.3.1.1.1

              VTO,

              Taking the Cree statement literally, it is correct.

              But is that really the choice in front of us?

              For instance in North East US, the area of forest is increasing as marginal farm land is left to revert back to forest.

              The same is true in New Zealand. Much of the back country in inland Whanganui, the East Coast, and inland Hawkes Bay has reverted back to bush, since it was burnout as farmland 70 to 80 years ago. Overall the area of forested land in New Zealand is increasing. High quality farmland, however, is being more intensively farmed, which can raise water quality issues. But they are solvable.

              As for urbanisation, yes, it uses some land, often good land, but as a percentage of the overall area, it is quite small. And if people grow vegetables and fruit trees, it still retains a proportion of its productive output, even if it is not measured in a monetary way (though of course the money spent through garden centres does go through the economy). In fact the total biomass of a well developed suburb may not be much less than farmland, given how intensively people develop their gardens. There must be studies done on this.

              In Auckland, the water and air quality is improving. I know this in my own area of Ngataringa Bay. Over the 14 years that I have been living beside Ngataringa Bay, the water quality has significantly improved (not that I would yet risk eating the shellfish – but maybe tests would show that they are actually OK).

              Fundamentally I am an optimist about our capacity to improve our environment.

              Incidentally there has been great fishing in the Hauraki Gulf this year. The workups around the Moko Hinau Islands were amazing, so the fishery as measured anectodally by me over many years seems pretty good.

              • vto

                Wayne, great answer which neatly avoids the important and damaging issues and swings the matter to more easily and pleasantly swallowed ideas – you should be a politician…

                ..example being your claim about water quality. Water quality in New Zealand rivers has been comprehensively shown to have significantly deteriorated over the last few decades, of that there is no doubt, Yet you talk about perhaps one minor watery place where it is improving. To take that further – as stated above, Any Adams river water standards allow rivers to deteriorate further to such a level that we cannot swim in them or dink from them. That is pollution. For money.

                So …. overall I give you no pass mark on the realities, but a pass mark as a politician in nicely avoiding the issue and painting a more pleasant picture. If only such skills were useful to the human race… eh wayne.

              • Halfcrown

                “Fundamentally I am an optimist about our capacity to improve our environment.

                Incidentally there has been great fishing in the Hauraki Gulf this year. The workups around the Moko Hinau Islands were amazing, so the fishery as measured anectodally by me over many years seems pretty good.”

                Yeah right. Have you seen this?
                http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10744343

                Once again nothing but rightwing bullshit.

          • One Anonymous Bloke 8.2.3.1.2

            Vast, yet un-linkable, apparently.

          • saveNZ 8.2.3.1.3

            My definition of a McMansion is when it is all about the size…. everything upsized, and too small for the section so you get large houses generally gated (to keep the riff raft out) and very dominant in the space. They are modern not historic (nope I would not say your place or the PM’s place in Parnell a McMansion as historic so have a sense of place). They are a pastiche of design. Car parking tends to be a feature. They tend to be multi-storey as low rise is just not dominant enough. You have to be the biggest – big is best and greed is good!

      • Murray Simmonds 8.2.4

        Jeeze, Wayne!

  9. Stickler 9

    When the Resource Management Act was at the planning and drafting stage, Treasury’s representative on the committee doing the work so strongly objected to the focus on environmental management and protection that she withdrew from the committee’s report and recommendations and wrote her own separate paper with a blueprint focussing on development. Historic fact.

    So it’s no surprise that Treasury sees the issue as revolving round a nail, because a hammer is its only instrument. Money, money, money, which one acquires via ripping shit out of the environment.

    By the way, did you notice that Nick Smith’s laying of the blame for Auckland’s housing problem made no mention of the massive contribution to housing costs made by the inflated prices of building materials in this country. That must remain the Rort Which Has No Name, so long as the construction sector continues to make big donations to Party funds.

    • framu 9.1

      of course he wouldnt – that would draw attention to the fact that what they are really doing is giving a govt funded kick back to developers

    • tracey 9.2

      Hi Stickler, can you post a link to the Treasury official resigning and their paper?

    • Murray Rawshark 9.3

      Fletchers have been given carte blanche by all governments since the 1930s. They basically began as a government department under private ownership. I’ve known a couple of builders who have had real problems with them. They really need bringing to heel. But they’re only one element of the problem, and all the problems lead back to capitalism.

  10. Any thing Nick Smith has to do with will mean maximum dollars in to the coffers and minimum dollars out, just as he did while in charge of ACC.

    His use by date is well past.

  11. Leaving aside whether these particular reforms are appropriate or not, the RMA badly needs reform if affordable housing is to be a realistic goal.
    At the moment council zones land they propose is suitable for development and gives it a classification eg medium density residential. This is land they deem is appropriate for that particular density of housing. One would assume therefore that if an interested party came along and put forward a development proposal that was fully compliant then the application would be straight forward and would be processed in due course. At the moment this is not the case.
    Here are some observations based on knowledge of a project I am very familiar with. Firstly, the RMA process has largely been hijacked by mid level bureaucrats who hide behind a plethora of excuses to frustrate and delay projects that they don’t personally agree with. Coupled with this the elected officials are generally just not smart enough or able enough to find their way through this morass, and are frequently mislead by council officers.
    Planning and RMA staff frequently use the flimsiest of pretexts to push projects into suspension so that their statutory obligation to process applications within a time frame can be avoided. In the case I am referring to this delayed the project by 18 months during which time council increased their development levies from $15k per lot to $33k per lot. Over a 100 lot subdivision this increases costs by $1.8m, all of which is unbudgeted and can only be passed on to the new home owner. $18k increase from one fiscal period to another is huge and in the recent environment unjustifiable. Now if the fee was applied at the time of application there would be some onus on council to be more effective.
    In the particular subdivision I am referring to the application was compliant in every respect, but it still took 18 months and along the way council required design changes that they ultimately changed their minds over.
    15 months into the application Council indicated that they would not provide water and sewerage connections. This in spite of the applicant being told during prepurchase due diligence that connections would be available. So after committing to a multimillion dollar purchase based on councils advise on zoning and connections council accepted the application and 15 months later resiled from their advice and also lifted their development charges. Their attitude was if you don’t like it take it to the environment court! It was only the threat of civil litigation over an inducement to buy, false advice and inducement to spend money on the application they didn’t intend to process that they saw sense.
    The land was zoned, council advice was obtained during due diligence, a compliant application was made, and that should have been the end of it.
    At that time council did not have an Environmental Officer and they expressed concern that there may be a water course in the construction area and they required an opinion from an eminent consulting firm. This advice unequivocally supported our position, but the council officer didn’t like it and forced another peer opinion from another eminent consulting firm which we also had to pay for and which also confirmed the first firms opinion. Council then decided that they would hold things up until they appointed their new Environmental officer.
    Now the point of all the above is this. Ratepayers in general have no idea how shonky their councils are in business dealings with other parties. After 30 years in general business where honourable people did what they said they would do, and paid their bills, it has been an absolute shock to see first hand how inefficient, dishonest and fraudulent some council staff can be. An example. Council decided they wanted over sized sewerage pipes to allow for another future development that would soon take place. They asked the developer if he would install these and council would pay the difference. As construction was already underway a meeting was held on site, pipes were sent back, new ones delivered, and the price increase agreed with a handshake and work continued. When the developer went in to council to pay their $1m+ fees they deducted the approx $40 k for the pipes only to be told by 5 mangers sitting around the table that they had changed their minds about paying for the difference in pipe sizes. Now in my view this is totally fraudulent behaviour, especially as they said to the developer ‘if you want to pick up your 221c then you will have to suck it up’.
    Later they decided they wanted to reroute some of their own sewage lines through a corner of the development and were told it would cost them $40k. They paid up without question.
    There is a lot more I could say about council, but then people would probably think I was exaggerating, which hand on heart I am not.
    So in summary my experience is that council staff right up to director level freely tell porkies when it suits them. They lose files, reneg on their own advice, delay and procrastinate all the time whilst making public noises about affordable housing. What a joke. To make matters worse in the Auckland area the same tired old elected officials in the separate area councils have turned up on the Super City council. So we have as a group an under qualified, under experienced elected council operating in an increasingly more complex environment.
    Len Brown was interviewed on TV3 3-4 weeks ago and he proudly proclaimed the number of new permits issued in their affordable housing drive. I just about chocked. My partner and I with no other resources or organisation got more houses built on our own!
    What I want to impart here is that whether or not these are good changes, and I am not confident about this one way or the other, the RMA does badly need overhaul.

    • tracey 11.1

      “freely tell porkies when it suits them. They lose files, reneg on their own advice, delay and procrastinate all the time whilst making public noises about … (fill in the gap here). What a joke.

      I agree with this but I don’t have as much trouble with Planners who work from the Legislation and understand it much more. The biggest problem Joe and Josephine Average faces is with the works department and the council officers . Mmany do not truly understand the BA, let alone the RMA and have a “because I said so” attitude to any challenge or question. Council officers in the works department seem to set their backs against professionals, so I often get my clients to call them directly. They treat owners with respect and because they are confidant they know more than average owners.

      Council, especially Auckland is HUGE and the power they wield enormous.

      There is a middle ground but I dont believe the regulations are the problem nearly as much as the revenue gathering and “just do what we tell you” attitude. Worst of all, speak to two different officers, get two different versions, and then one denies ever saying it.

      The RMA is a big piece of legislation. Because of this our media will not read it, wont put a specialist on it, will go for soundbites from politicians, and a developer and in about 6 weeks MSM will print an article actually analysing the changes. the public will understand the changes only through soundbites.

      In a nutshell Once was Pete, I sympathise with your scenario BUT I believe you are mainly talking about a culture not the RMA per se. Some of your problems may have BA based as well, which is separate from RMA. Councils remain full of people who wield power well beyond their experience or knowledge levels. That wont change with a new RMA.

      • Once was Pete 11.1.1

        Thanks for the response. You are definitely right about the culture but one aspect of reform needs to be in the way councils respond. Seriously, sometimes council staff dream up such nonsense to sideline an application, and there is no recourse to this except to grit your teeth and try and place nice, otherwise it gets worse.
        if fees were set at the time of application at least it would put responsibility on council to respond in a timely manner.

        • tracey 11.1.1.1

          They are never untimely chasing fees.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 11.1.1.2

          It isn’t even though the statistics are hard to find, and yet the only argument the property developers can muster is that there was this dog, whose previous owner flatted with a guy who had a girlfriend who built a house, and resource consent was hard to obtain.

          Still, I expect it’s more cost effective to join Cabinet Club: why go to the trouble of constructing an argument when you can simply pay the National Party to change the law?

        • framu 11.1.1.3

          “if fees were set at the time of application at least it would put responsibility on council to respond in a timely manner.”

          that actually sounds like a good idea (though im just the “man in the street”)

    • millsy 11.2

      Whine whine whine.

      Perhaps you should just not turn this country into a parking lot, traitor,

      And development fees pay for parks and libraries.

    • vto 11.3

      Once was pete, your post there is so full of shit I have printed it out and flushed it down the dunny.

      • millsy 11.3.1

        That’s a good one…

      • Once was Pete 11.3.2

        Don’t be such a dipstick! These costs go straight on to section costs. Explain to me (if you can) how a 220% increase in charges after application is made helps new home owners.
        You don’t know me, you don’t know what I do, and you don’t know the merits of my position, so you have no basis for calling me a traitor. What do you want – for people to sleep in their cars or under a bridge? Some short advice for you Millsy, if you can’t discuss like an adult, stay out of the dialogue.

      • Once was Pete 11.3.3

        Actually, every word the truth and lots left unsaid. Happy to sign and affidavit on it or swear to it in court. The surveyors, engineers, and environmental consultants all have the same opinion. Why do you think the planning consultancy sector has mushroomed so much? It is because consent applications are a minefield and a nightmare. You obviously have absolutely no experience or understanding of this area.
        Another bigot who is unable to discuss and resorts to abuse.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 11.3.3.1

          Obviously the shiny new legislation will be immune from official incompetence and/or malice /sarc.

        • vto 11.3.3.2

          Yes it was abuse. It was abuse because, contrary to your claim, I deal with Councils and RMA resource consents constantly and have done so since inception in 1991. On a larger scale.

          I see two types of people dealing with Councils and resource consents.

          One, those that engage with Council early and frequently, treat them with respect, and approach the process with care and professional attention. Never a problem. Never. Don’t have the problems you encounter and hear of – ever.

          Two, those who whinge and complain, even before they have got underway, treat staff with disrespect and bad mouth them, do not understand or anticipate the process, and just barge in loaded with arrogance and abuse. They always have problems. I wonder why.

          You know the funny thing owp? I see people like you all the time and you make it easier for people like us because the Council staff would rather deal with us so we go to the top of the pile – ha ha ha, suck it up dick. Seen it loads of times. Keep up the good work – couldn’t do without you.

          • tracey 11.3.3.2.1

            I agree that the two categories you speak of exist BUT there is a third. Well-meaning people who ask questions innocently and end up unwittingly rubbing an officer up the wrong way, and bingo, delays and problems.

            PART of the officer’s job is to help people understand the process. I speak from the point of view of someone who is usually in the owners section, not the developers section which is streamlined and dealt with differently to ordinary folks 😉

            • vto 11.3.3.2.1.1

              True. Seen that too. Unfortunate – really unfortunate – for the owner, the Council, and wider policy-setting, as such problems get inflated to the point where a bad government uses it as an excuse to implement changes to the RMA which are damaging i.e. current situation

    • One Anonymous Bloke 11.4

      OWP uses one piece of anecdata in support of the mantra we’ve heard so many times. Funny, that after all this time the acolytes can’t quote the statistics that “presumably” support the anecdata.

      Perhaps that’s because the statistics show the RMA was working or something. Perish the thought.

      • Once was Pete 11.4.1

        What a load of rubbish. You have jumped to a false conclusion and fallen in a heap. Firstly, all our relationships with builders, consultants, suppliers, council and others are always carried out in a collegial and respectful way. We only employed top ranked consultants and advisors. You would not be able to find one person in our orbit who would say otherwise. Only a fool goes in to any contact in an adversarial manner. You obviously have a very narrow experience base, because if you talked around the planning consultants in Auckland they would pretty much tell you what I did. And, as for experience we have been in the field a lot earlier than 1991.
        Nothing prepares you for the experience of going to a meeting with council to be told after 15 months there will be no connections for water or sewerage in spite of council advising before purchase that these would be available. It also doesn’t help that the deputy water engineer couldn’t muster a complete sentence in English, or that the sewerage engineer simply said I made a mistake in advising you that a connection would be available before you purchased the land. If land is zoned for a purpose it has a corresponding value. If council arbitrarily decides not to grant some of the rights allowed under the zoning the land no longer has that value.
        Nothing also prepares you for the experience of council officers requesting construction changes for their own reasons and agreeing to pay the difference in costs for them then to reneg. That is just straight fraud. The only reason there wasn’t a complaint was that we were constructively working our way to a 221c.
        As our project application was rolling through we had an approach from consultants employed by government to survey applicants on their experiences so I can tell you we have made all these comments on official forms.
        Just because you are in denial doesn’t mean something isn’t true. Finally, you don’t know if you have seen people like me because you don’t know the first thing about me.

        • vto 11.4.1.1

          I suspect you were trying to reply to my post to you just above.

          I stand by my points and as stated appreciate your work as it makes it easier for us …..

          You do appreciate don’t you that your complaints have nothing whatsoever to do with the RMA and the proposed amendments and everything to do with relationships with Council. Changing the RMA will not change this one iota. End. of. story.

          • Once was Pete 11.4.1.1.1

            Your points are invalid because you have made some erroneous assumptions.
            Not true. The fact that the Act does not give adequate control over the process allows these abuses. The fact that council officers can easily sidestep their statutory response time commitments gives rise to a whole host of issues. You clearly have quite limited experience and understanding.

            • vto 11.4.1.1.1.1

              Nope. It is you who has the limited experience and understanding as evidenced by your lack of success and eternal complaints.

              You should learn how to deal with Councils and the RMA competently and properly so you have no problems. Like us.

              But as stated above, incompetents make it easier for us so do keep up your approach.

              edit: your lack of understanding is further evidenced by the fact you think Council bureaucracies, and more importantly their culture, can be changed by act of Parliament. I mean, seriously, such an idea is bordering on the ludicrous.

              Change your approach fulla – not everyone has your problems.

              • None so blind as those who cannot see. This morning the chair of the Local Bodies Assoc, the spokesperson for The Urban Renewal Action Group. Len brown, and the chair for The property developers Assoc all without qualification issued press releases endorsing the need for changes to the act. Indeed the chair of the Local Govt Assoc specifically mentioned the industry that has developed around the act, the slowness of the bureaucracy, the difficulty for citizens to progress their applications and the increased costs.
                Of course council can be changed by consequences. tying councils to costs at time of application puts responsibility on them to be more efficient.
                I am beginning to wonder what universe you have lived in but it is certainly not the same as the one inhabited by the rest of us. To claim as you did in an earlier comment that you had never ever in effect heard of problems like this underlines my impression that you have very limited and quite low level experience.
                You have also made unwarranted assumptions about how we might have dealt with council. All totally unfounded.

      • Once was Pete 11.4.2

        You clearly didn’t read my post because I clearly stated at the start that I was making no comment about the specific changes being proposed. What I have described is pretty much typical for projects in the Auckland council region. There are very serious shortcomings in the current process which need to be addressed if affordable housing is to be a serious goal.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 11.4.2.1

          If the process were the problem it would be revealed in the stats, if it’s Auckland specific it’s probably the fact that right wing gimps like Rodney Hide know jack shit about writing local government legislation.

          Still, my neighbour used to work for a guy whose lawyer knows a property developer, and he agrees with you.

    • Murray Rawshark 11.5

      Sounds like the culture of council workers needs an upgrade, not the RMA. I had problems with some idiots out West Auckland, who were just downright rude and totally unwilling to help. I suspected they were bitter because they’d failed the intelligence test to be prison screws.

  12. Paul 12

    “When all the trees have been cut down,
    when all the animals have been hunted,
    when all the waters are polluted,
    when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
    only then will you discover you cannot eat money.”

    Cree Prophecy

    • vto 12.1

      Fuck me that Cree chief’s vision of the future was uncannily accurate. And that future is here, amply aided by John Key and his band of fools..

      “When all the trees have been cut down,
      when all the animals have been hunted,
      when all the waters are polluted,
      when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
      only then will you discover you cannot eat money.”

      So what do National Party supporters say to the Cree chief I wonder? I suspect bluff, bluster and abuse before they run away to their headhole in the sand

  13. Paul 13

    “You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of your grandfathers.
    So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin.
    Teach your children what we have taught our children, that the earth is our mother.
    Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth.
    If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves. “

  14. Paul 14

    “Treat the earth well.
    It was not given to you by your parents,
    it was loaned to you by your children.
    We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors,
    we borrow it from our Children.”

  15. wyndham 15

    “The Minister will be given greater power to intervene. The party that championed Nanny State is more than happy to give itself increased power as long as it is the party in control.”

    Something wrong there Micky – – – “championed” ??

    • mickysavage 15.1

      Right you are, will change this to “championed attacks on” …

    • Murray Rawshark 15.2

      I suspect that party will be happy with increased power as well. Both main parties are suffering from a sickness and cannot trust Kiwis. I’d call that a Freudian slip.

  16. vto 16

    In my long experience those who complain about the RMA are those who try to foist ridiculous schemes onto the community and environment. They are most always nutters, psychos and unrealistic idiots. We deal with the RMA all the time and have done so since its implementation – it is absolutely fine.

    These others are simply lazy and just want to eat the environment rather than grow their own garden, just as the colonists did. This government and its supporters have not moved on in 150 years – they still operate with colonial mindset.

    Fear for our future people

    • Sookie 16.1

      I am a Planner and I endorse vto’s comment wholeheartedly. I also appreciate what Once Was Pete is saying as well, but would venture most of his problems stem from the LGA and infrastructure and development contributions boffins, not Planners 🙂
      I wonder if Nick the Prick has watered down the gutting of Part II, the heart the RMA, which I was mostly horrified about. Probably not alas.

  17. William 17

    Just as a sidenote, the other “usual modus operandi of the Government” that is happening here is that it is being announced while Key is overseas.

  18. saveNZ 18

    The other big component are the ‘secret council’ deals with environmental barristers lawyers and lobbyists for zone changes to make money for their owners. The unitary plan ‘consultation’ was full of lobbyists to make sure their ‘clients’ will be making money. Not about actually making the city a better place.

    Here’s a few lobbyist from the ages… some from the days where the Herald was actually respected as a newspaper.

    Big names in Franklin Rd fight
    Two prominent owners want to move eight villas for more intense development
    A rich lister, a high profile QC, a prominent media couple and an arts doyen are locking horns over the future of Franklin Rd, which attracts hordes of visitors to its street display of Christmas lights.

    Property mogul Michael Friedlander and newly appointed QC Marie Dyhrberg are seeking changes to the council’s Unitary Plan to allow them to remove eight villas for more intensive development.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11299361

    Lawyers plotted heritage coup

    Three Remuera lawyers almost convinced the Auckland City Council to sign a deal allowing thousands of heritage homes to be demolished in the city.

    Derek Nolan, an environmental lawyer and partner in Russell McVeagh; Brian Latimour, a litigation lawyer and partner in Bell Gully, and his wife Shanla; and barrister Tim Burcher are the three parties who almost pulled off a secret deal on Tuesday to allow the demolition of up to 7600 heritage homes.

    The deal, masterminded by council planning boss John Duthie and his number two, Penny Pirrit, fell over on Tuesday when Mayor John Banks intervened to stop it.

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10497849

    These are just a couple that got publicised….

  19. millsy 19

    Two words Pete: State Housing. That is how you sort housing affordability. Plus you bring back the various home ownership subsidies that were in place before the 1990’s.

    But it looks like you are anti state housing, given that you would rather support giving developers free reign to do what they want, and cripple councils abilty to raise funds for parks and libaries.

    Anti union, anti state housing, anti parks, anti libararies.

    And you claim you are left.

    Seems like you have you have your head so far up Key’s ass that you can taste what he had for dinner (what is Bronagh’s cooking like BTW?).

    Plus you think WhaleOil, is a stand up guy, even though he would string union members up with piano wire. But then again, you would be in good company.

    • Gosman 19.1

      That will just increase demand for land. Without an increase in supply of land the cost of housing will continue to rise and will do so even faster than now.

      • millsy 19.1.1

        So how are you going to force people who own land to subdivide it or sell it to property developers?

        • vto 19.1.1.1

          Legislate, like many other countries.

          Land ownership does not give the land owner unfettered rights to do with it as they wish, contrary to what many people think.

  20. One Anonymous Bloke 20

    This time, when the National Party commits manslaughter, sheet it home to your local MP and harry them for it to the grave.

    It’s only fair.

  21. I hope that Auckland Transport runs afoul of the RMA, their latest mad tarmac-fest is going to sacrifice 6 historic and beautiful pohutukawas so that Ponsonby residents can save 2 minutes on a shopping trip to St Lukes.

  22. vto 22

    gosman and others keep crying “increase the supply of land”….

    but “increase the supply of building product” is an infinitely more useful way to bring down the cost of housing..

    people have no idea how the Fletchers / Carters / Holcim cartels rip us off… bust them wide open. Allow them to own/control no more than 20% of the market….

  23. One Anonymous Bloke 23

    Nature affects property values. Better abolish it.

  24. Tanz 24

    Course, those not affected by lack of housing can afford to be smug and to throw stones. The RMA is a ridiculous set of rules, our building costs are four times higher than those overseas, and there is far too much red tape, which bossy leftie councils love. The young have a right to home ownership too, at the moment they are locked out, what of that? Don’t you lot want your grandkids to own their own homes, without major imput from parents etc, as our generation was able to do.

    • millsy 24.1

      Bring back housing corp loans and deposit capitalisation and build more state housing. Not oavr over evrerything.

      • Tanz 24.1.1

        Isn’t that how Paula Bennett got to own a house? Housing corp loan, and post grad degree, both not allowed anymore for those in similar situations as to what she was once in.

        • millsy 24.1.1.1

          Yep.

          And award wages for her waitressing job. She probably had penalty rates in the weekend.

    • vto 24.2

      Wake up Tanz. Do some reading.

      Yes, building costs are four times higher – see my point two up for the reason why – right wing plays to the already rich.

      The RMA has very little impact on house prices. You are a fool to believe Nick Smith who is a well known and habitual liar.

  25. Tanz 25

    I don’t believe anything Nick Smith says. But I do think the RMA is very over complicated. But the true driver of Auckland’s outrageous house prices (quite often for absolute piles of do up rubbish) is overseas investment, but no one seems to want to address this, neither Labour or National. So, our future generations are going to be renters/tenants/and beholden to overseas landlords. Betrayal by govt.

    • vto 25.1

      Interesting. I agree completely about the foreign ownership of land issue.

    • Lanthanide 25.2

      “but no one seems to want to address this, neither Labour or National”

      I guess you weren’t paying attention to Labour’s election campaign, where they would restrict ownership of NZ properties to citizens (living anywhere), or permanent residents?

  26. Ad 26

    The first ten developers to go positive in the media on this will all be core National Party donors. Listen and name them.

    Feel the money flowing in, and flowing right back, via the banks.

    Nice and legal.

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