Policy Parrot blog on RMA reforms

Policy Parrot says:

Finally reforms to the RMA!

Although the devil is in the detail and subsequent interpretations of the law it is fair to say that the RMA reforms are welcomed with the warm arms given by granny at Christmas lunch.

The reforms are long overdue.

So far the news is skant. We can expect certain consents to be quicker and easier. This Parrot is holding its breath in the hope that the reforms include a range of recommended changes by the industry and not just a bunch of touchy feely changes that mean nothing and deliver less.

If the changes are simply as reported by the New Zealand Herald you can expect the property industry to be rightly pissed off. We wanted big changes not tossy little tweaks for retaining walls.

But given the Herald’s track record of keeping the facts straight is about as good as Zimbabwe’s record for stamping out corruption we don’t need to react yet.

But on the face of it they look shit.

Here is a low down of the salient changes:

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

So far this Parrot is less than impressed. There is nothing here of substance. In fact there is high chance these will do nothing at all. This Parrot has grave concerns.

This Parrot ate dinner with Amy Adams and suggested that she carefully listen to the industry when making decisions about reforms. It appears on face value she hasn’t and she can be assured that next time her fingers are in the Parrot’s cage they will be bitten.

Check out this story from the NZ Herald.


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  • Cadwallader

    If it happens the final bullet-point alone is a wonderful amendment.

  • BR

    What was life like before the RMA?

    Answer: Life was fine.

    The RMA is nothing more than an an expensive obstructive bureaucracy. It’s high time the whole rotten mess was consigned to the dustbin permanently.


    • Cadwallader

      The Clark lot through the Local Government Act 2002 allowed local authorities to go berserk with fees and stupid intrusions. The best way forwards would be to go back to the common law action of private nuisance to ensure we can all work/live/survive together. The country does not need the intrusive crap which has been dished up courtesy of many stupid statutes leading up to the RMA which effectively nationalised privately owned realty. (Maori land was frequently exempted!!!)

      • philbest

        Absolutely correct, the LGA 2002 made everything far worse than the RMA on its own. The process by which developers could appeal Council obstructionism was far quicker and cheaper before that.

        • Cadwallader

          LGA 2002 allowed Council’s to bill for Development Contribution Levies (read: a pernicious pointless tax on enterprise.)

    • AXjarv

      The RMA has stuffed this country but to consign it to the dustbin it deserves will mean the whole industry it created of lawyers and miscellaneous other supposed experts and consultants will have to find something else to pontificate about. Unfortunately this will not happen as the legal boys and girls control the system and will not kill the golden goose.

  • AnonWgtn

    But think of the many new staff Councils will have to employ to make the timeframe envisaged.
    Bet ,many will just bleat – we will try to meet the National Government imposed revised timetables but do not (bleat) have the staff, so we will have to put the rates up.

  • Mediaan

    According to Beehive info, the Bill does this:

    The Bill introduces a streamlined process for Auckland’s first unitary plan, a six-month time limit for processing consents for medium-sized projects and easier direct referral to the Environment Court for major regional projects.

    The Bill also includes stronger requirements for councils to base their planning decisions on robust and thorough cost-benefit analysis, including assessing how jobs and employment will be affected.

    “Councils will need to show they have understood and considered the impact of local employment and the economy while making major decisions under the Act,” Ms Adams says.

  • philbest

    “….Require Councils to provide a minimum of 10 years of urban land supply to cope with projected population growth….”

    This is such absolute incompetence it is not funny. It is common knowledge among urban economics specialists, that when Portland established its “20 year growth boundary”, the prices of land and of course housing started to inflate just 4 years later.

    It is not rocket science to work out that “20 years supply” of land on a planners map is nothing LIKE the amount of land that the current owners are happily using for other purposes, would have been sold anyway within the next 20 years. Within a very short period of time, the land owners are getting door-knocked by developers, and what does anyone think this does to their expectations for prices?

    Add the reality that most developments take several years, and most developers like to secure their next site before they finish the previous job. The government has been told all this repeatedly, so they are obviously not serious about bringing prices down and are still in the pockets of John Keys FIRE sector fat cat mates.