Last week the Government announced the creation of a new authority to fast track urban development and affordable housing. The Hon. Phil Twyford as Minister for Housing and Urban Development said that the Housing and Urban Development Authority (HUDA) will allow us to ‘build our way out of the national housing crisis.’

The new authority will combine Housing New Zealand, its subsidiary Homes Land Community (HLC), and KiwiBuild to develop housing, commercial buildings, and infrastructure, as well as parks and open spaces. HUDA will work with local authorities, iwi and the private sector to create the urban developments. It is being designed to cut out the need to work with multiple authorities and remove red tape. Legislation is expected to be introduced in 2019, with projects under HUDA beginning in early 2020.

HUDA will be a Crown agency with a wide range of powers to help achieve its two main goals; leading urban development and being a public landlord. HUDA will enable central government to participate directly in urban transformation at a local level. HUDA will have standard development powers for business-as-usual projects, but far more enabling development powers for ‘specified development projects’. 

HUDA’s proposed powers for specified development projects include abilities to:

  • Repurpose Crown owned land and buy private land for redevelopment (but not sensitive Maori land) – including compulsory acquisition under the Public Works Act
  • Re-take land transferred to a private developer, if it doesn’t deliver what is agreed
  • Build, alter, or remove any building or infrastructure. HUDA will have the same powers as Auckland Transport for land transport infrastructure, and the same powers as a council in relation to three-water infrastructure
  • Make, suspend, or amend bylaws and provisions in RMA planning documents, including designations
  • Streamline the consent and planning process by being the resource consent authority for the project area
  • Impose targeted rates in the project area, require betterment payments from landowners for transport projects, and auction off development rights for project land
  • Reconfigure reserves
  • Alter, remove, amend or replace designations.

The streamlined process, combined planning and land acquisition powers, and ability to independently fund urban development, will enable the Government to work quickly, and independently of local government. It is certainly goes further than the RMA-bypass achieved through the HASHAA legislation. Larger councils such as Wellington and Auckland whilst generally supportive have expressed concern that the central authority might remove the rights of surrounding communities and have called for adequate safeguards to be put in place to prevent this.

The Government has suggested the process will have ‘checks and balances’. Council agreement will be sought at various points, and the public will be able to submit on the establishment of a specified development project. The process does pose a question about the continuing role of the local authority and council controlled organisations such as Panuku Development Auckland, as HUDA will have control of the development, but hand back management once the project is complete. Also, it is unclear who will be responsible for enforcement of the consents issued by HUDA – back to councils or yet another entity?

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development and HUDA are expected to act in a complementary manner. This would be similar to the Ministry of Transport and NZ Transport Agency. This means that the Ministry would be the impartial advisor to the Government on matters of urban development, and advise HUDA on the policy decision and strategic direction. HUDA will be responsible for operationalising the policies and for planning the developments.

HUDA’s powers will be similar to the powers granted to the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority. It too had the ability to override other statutory plans, alter or remove provisions of any enactment, and to change any planning document. CERA was limited by the purposes of the empowering legislation and had a review panel. Given that these powers were granted to aid the recovery of Canterbury after the devastating earthquakes, some may see the powers being given to HUDA as going too far.

Empowering legislation is expected in the second quarter of 2019. We will keep you posted.



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