Bespoke district plans are killing our economy and affordable housing

I’ve been saying for some time that Local Government is a festering wound on the New Zealand economy.

Rather than assist the economy and regions we have 40 odd organisations acting as theocracies and who are hell bent on continuing to run their little empires like Afghanistan warlords.

The effect this has is to bog down business and property into a controlled subversive struggle to do anything and thus it has a detrimental effect on the economy.

It’s amazing that nobody can pick what the issues are.

The government isn’t sure and has enlisted the help of the Productivity Commission to work it out.

But we here at WOBH are made of more intelligent stuff and in our opinion the problems are quite bloody obvious.

Take planning for example…   

Planning in New Zealand is as such a region by region, town by town, suburb by suburb annotation of customised bespoke planning structures. Having customised planning rules for each and every suburb results in a bespoke response to each and every rule and zone in existence by developers and property owners who have to navigate vast complexity just to work out what their local council thinks they can or cannot do. It’s nuts.

Custom bespoke plans is obviously a recipe for high cost because any property developer aspiring to achieve scale and deliver efficient and affordable outcomes in New Zealand is undermined by having to constantly customise their developments (from standard houses to buildings). No two places are subject to the same rules.

What is needed in terms of change is for uniformity of district plans to create a nationwide even playing field.

In order for that to be implemented we would have to consider a change from custom locally written district plans to using template national zoning and reduce Council’s role to merely deciding where to use the pre-written zone.

The benefit of this will be that developers can start to plan for repetitive scale projects all over the country. The cost of planning would reduce as developers regurgitate the same plans and reports and the costs of construction would reduce dramatically.

In the USA scale is key to delivering homes affordably but it’s only because the planning regulations in place at least enable it.

In New Zealand our continued use of customised bespoke district plans is killing us and the only reason it exists is because local government wants it, to ensure its own survival.

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.