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National Should Ditch Supporting Rushed Housing Bill

Press Release – Sentinel Planning

A leading town planner turned developer says there is no justification for the pre-Christmas rush to pass the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Bill. A process usually takes six months has been afforded just six weeks …

A leading town planner turned developer says there is no justification for the pre-Christmas rush to pass the Resource Management (Enabling Housing Supply and Other Matters) Amendment Bill.

A process usually takes six months has been afforded just six weeks of public consultation. Last week the Environment Committee wrote in its report that it did not have enough time to formalise its recommended amendments.

The controversial Bill would enable medium density housing (up to three dwellings of up to three storeys per site) as a permitted activity, but even more with resource consent to be built as of right across more of New Zealand’s urban environments.

The Bill encourages urban sprawl to the cheaper land on the periphery of the cities but critically where community infrastructure is not located and more expensive to service.

Initially, the Bill allowed height to boundary ratios of 6m at the side and rear boundaries, with a 60 degrees recessionary plane. But concerns over sunlight loss saw this be reduced to 5m last Thursday. This is still a significant jump from the current 2.5m or 3m with a 45 degrees recessionary plane.

“Given this legislation will affect our nation’s suburban outlook for many generations to come, there is a need for careful and considered lawmaking,” says Simon O’Connor, Sentinel Planning managing director.

“What we have here is New Zealand’s two main political parties rushing through the House a law that is ill-considered and problematic on several levels. This law will provide short-term gains with long-lasting regrets.”

O’Connor says the Environment Committee received more than 900 submissions, many of which were hastily constructed due to the short timeframe allowed for public feedback.

“It is not possible the submissions could have been properly digested and considered with the due diligence deserved,” he added.

“What is certain is that the majority of experts who made submissions were of the view this law as it is, is flawed.

“Rushed law is bad law, and the problem with getting legislation as important as this wrong is that it will be too late down the track to reverse it as the building of relative slums will have already commenced.”

While some of his clients are excited about the Bill, O’Connor has personal reservations about whether it is suitable for New Zealand and its landscape.

The former Auckland Council principal planner calls on the recently-anointed leader, Christopher Luxon, to withdraw his party’s support for the law and regroup on it next year.

“Here is Christopher’s chance to show some leadership and backbone and tell his MPs to go and have a well-deserved summer holiday, then come back and think this through with the care it deserves.

“The last thing National should want is to be part of a rushed law that will have messy long-term consequences for urban living throughout New Zealand.”

In the meantime, O’Connor said Auckland’s Unitary Plan was working well to increase housing supply, and the rest of the country could roll out what was happening in our biggest city to achieve what the Bill is intended to.

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