Resource management reforms underscore the complexity of delivering a simple system

Property Council New Zealand head of advocacy Denise Lee.

The recent release of the first tranche of the government’s resource management reforms underscoring the government’s good intentions do not outweigh the fact that delivering a simpler system is harder than it sounds, Property Council New Zealand head of advocacy Denise Lee says.

“Reforming the resource management system is critical to speeding up and enhancing development in New Zealand. We commend the Government for tackling it head-on and getting the ball rolling,” Lee says.

“This marks another win for organisations like ours and our colleagues at the EMA and Infrastructure NZ, who have fought for planning laws which embrace the urgency of building more houses and encouraging development while protecting our natural environment.

“But saying you want a simpler system and actually delivering one are two different things. We are concerned that the Bill as it stands will, in some cases, make consenting and development more difficult.

“It is hard to see how meeting all of the listed environmental outcomes will make the process less bureaucratic and burdensome. We have always favoured bottom lines to protect and enhance our natural environment, while simplifying the system to get more developments consented.

“Reducing the number of plans and policy statements from 100 to 14 around the country is welcomed, and will mean a more streamlined approach can be taken to planning.

“But with this needs to be the commitment to resourcing authorities and consenting teams properly.

“Already local authorities are stretched. Ensuring they are resourced to make implementation as seamless as possible, as well as provide support to continue to consent new developments, will be critical to the success of the new system.

“One of the Property Council’s key concerns is the lack of mention of development in the purpose section of the Natural and Built Environment Bill.

“This seems an obvious omission given the Bill’s requirement to support sustainable development.

“New Zealand is simply not building enough houses, quickly enough, and with the quality and innovation needed to service its growing and changing population.

“As the Minister says, it is critical we get this right. We hope the Government will continue to work with us to make sure the Bill works in the best interests of New Zealand.

“We’ve also reiterated our offer to road test the draft legislation before it becomes final to ensure it is robust enough to fulfil its aim.

“At the end of the day we all want the same thing — rules and regulation that foster a more sustainable and dynamic environment, more quality affordable houses, and a country fit for the 21st Century,” Lee says.

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