Councils will see new directions and obligations placed upon them which must be “given effect to” (effectively, “implemented”) in RMA plans, and it is likely that the administrative burden associated with the various assessments, consultation, and monitoring requirements in the NPS-UDC will be substantial.
However, this guidance will be useful in light of the proposed new function for councils in the Resource Legislation Amendment Bill, which is “the establishment, implementation, and review of objectives, policies and methods to ensure there is sufficient development capacity in relation to residential and business land to meet the expected long-term demands of the district or region.”
In that respect, and while the RMA tools are likely to be only a partial solution to development capacity and housing affordability issues, the NPS-UDC is a positive step forward.
The NPS-UDC will come into effect on 1 December 2016, but councils have until the end of 2017 or 2018 to have completed many of the assessments or strategies required.
The NPS-UDC aims to facilitate:
How does this apply?
The first four policies apply to all councils and provide that:
Additional policies apply to councils with a Medium or High-Growth Urban Area within their district or region:
Councils with a High-Growth Urban Area within their district or region have additional policies which apply to them, regulating matters such as:
A helpful summary document of the objectives and policies of the NPS-UDC has been provided by the Ministry for the Environment, and is available here.
What is the NPS-UDC?
National policy statements are issued by the Government to provide direction to local government about matters of national significance that are relevant to achieving the purpose of the Resource Management Act 1991 (‘RMA’). The NPS-UDC is particularly focused on recognising the national significance of:
The full NPS-UDC can be accessed here.
Why is it needed?
The NPS-UDC was developed by the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, as part of the Government’s response to the recommendations of the Productivity Commission. In 2015, the Productivity Commission inquiry into ‘Using land for housing’ identified the need for a national policy statement to help address constraints on development capacity (Using land for housing, New Zealand Productivity Commission, September 2015).
How will it work?
The NPS-UDC will address housing affordability challenges by requiring councils to provide an appropriate supply of residential and business land, slowing down the price hike and making residential and business land generally more affordable. The NPS-UDC will apply nationwide, but has particular policies which target councils with medium or high growth areas within their district.
Councils will be required to provide sufficient development capacity in their resource management plans for housing and business growth in order to meet demand. Councils will also need to consider the NPS-UDC when determining resource consent applications for urban development.
The NPS-UDC has been developed through a fast-track process – it has been delivered in less than nine months, in comparison to the standard three year period. This speed of production has come at the cost of community participation (while the draft NPS was publicly notified for submissions, there was no hearing process or receipt of evidence, as occurred for some previous NPS). However, this reflects the Government’s focus on taking action on housing issues, and the increased emphasis on the use of national RMA tools. The NPS-UDC will come into effect on 1 December 2016, but councils have until the end of 2017 or 2018 to have completed many of the assessments or strategies required.
Our thanks to Ezekiel Hudspith and Jenny Chung for preparing this newsflash.