LGNZ: Scrapping SHAs hamstrings housing

Published: March 13, 2019

News type: National news   

Local Government New Zealand is disappointed by the Government’s blanket decision to not renew the Special Housing Area (SHA) legislation, saying the policy needed refinement not a red line through it.

SHAs were enabled as a means of bypassing unnecessary red tape in the planning system that has for decades clogged up the market, to deliver affordable housing that New Zealand’s communities desperately need.

While far from a perfect solution to New Zealand’s moribund planning system, they provided a framework that offered certainty to developers looking to build more houses. In Tauranga, for example, the 13 SHAs provided capacity of 3,373 dwellings, of which 901 had been consented and 578 completed. Tauranga City Council describes SHAs as “the quickest means of enabling new development capacity in the short term.”

“One of the perverse outcomes of New Zealand’s housing crisis is that local councils have footed the blame for what is effectively a regulatory system failure due to the design flaw of our planning system,” says LGNZ President Dave Cull.

“The decision to axe the SHAs compounds that failure by taking away one of the few tools that have enabled some councils to enable faster housing development.  We would have preferred that the government fixed the weaknesses of the SHAs rather than canning them outright.”

“We know that SHAs weren’t working as desired in some places, but in areas like Queenstown and Tauranga they have proved to be a useful means of cutting through RMA red tape. This is another example of how hasty decisions made in the Beehive can have long lasting perverse outcomes in regional New Zealand.”

“We are collaborating with central government on its programme to reform the planning system, but the Urban Development Authorities and a rewrite of the RMA are years away, whereas we need houses now.”

“Local Government New Zealand have long known that we need flexible legislation that takes regional differences into account, which is why we’re disappointed with the move to scrap Special Housing Areas.”

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