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LAYING THE FOUNDATIONS FOR NZ'S HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
HBP0669

The Government is seeking submissions on the first tranche of new legislation to deliver on its vision of “healthy, secure and affordable homes within diverse and thriving communities”.

The Kāinga Ora-Homes and Communities Bill (‘the Bill’) is based on consultation carried out in 2017 and will:

  • consolidate Housing New Zealand, its subsidiary HLC and parts of the KiwiBuild Unit;
  • create a new Kāinga Ora-Homes and Communities (‘KOHC’) agency; and
  • provide for strategic direction to KOHC through a Government Policy Statement (‘GPS’).

Kāinga Ora-Homes and Communities

In November 2018, the Government announced the creation of a new authority to fast track urban development and affordable housing (known as the Housing and Urban Development Authority). This has now become the KOHC.

KOHC will have two key areas of focus:

  • Being the lead developer and driving the delivery of affordable homes and public housing; and
  • Managing public housing tenancies across New Zealand.

Māori interests and the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi are reflected in the KOHC’s functions and operating principles. The second bill (see below) will further protect Māori land from compulsory acquisition and Māori interests under local government planning and consenting processes. In performing its functions, KOHC will partner and engage with Māori and offer opportunities to participate in urban development.

Government Policy Statement

The KOHC will be a Crown Entity run by a Board accountable to the Minister of Housing and Urban Development. Interestingly, the Bill contains a requirement for the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Housing and Urban Development to issue a GPS which KOHC must give effect to when performing its functions.

Just as the Transport GPS determines the work carried out by the NZ Transport Agency, this new GPS will ensure housing and urban development is co-ordinated and planned. The first GPS must be issued by 1 October 2020 and cover a period of at least 10 years. Councils will have a key interest in the GPS.

Additional legislation to come

A second bill will be introduced later this year to give KOHC powers “to enable large and complex urban development projects at scale and pace”.[1] The Government has already consulted on these statutory powers. It is intended that KOHC will have extensive powers to:

  • issue resource consents for specified development projects;
  • override, add to, or suspend land use rules in planning documents in a project area;
  • remove, change or replace infrastructure designations (but not for nationally significant infrastructure) and recommend new designations;
  • act as a heritage protection authority; and
  • acquire property and reconfigure reserves.

Comments

The current Bill does little more than re-organise existing government housing organisations and create a framework for their coordination. However, this early focus on structure and function is strategic and welcome. This Bill gets the ‘house in order’ before populating that house with super-powers.

The Bill shows that KOHC will be more housing-focussed than early consultation had suggested. KOHC will still have urban development functions, but it is unclear exactly what is meant by that term as it is not defined in the Bill.

It is also unclear whether this urban development can be for the purpose of supporting infrastructure provision, rather than the other way around. For example, it has been suggested that the Let’s Get Wellington Moving transport programme or Light Rail could be progressed through an Urban Development Authority. If KOHC was to deliver these projects they would need to be reframed as “development and renewal of urban environments”. Infrastructure works could only be carried out if they were “related to” (necessary for?) urban development.

Making a submission

The first reading of the Bill was on 30 May 2019 and it has been referred to the Environment Select Committee, which is required to report back to the House by 30 November 2019. The Select Committee is currently seeking public submissions on the Bill - the closing date is 11 July 2019. More information can be found here.

Kensington Swan will be monitoring progress and will keep you updated on developments. If you would like further information in relation to this topic or assistance with lodging a submission, please get in touch.

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