20 Jan 2015

RMA changes no quick fix

8:47 am on 20 January 2015

The Labour Party is offering cautious support to changes to the Resource Management Act, but warns it won't be a quick fix to housing problems, and says environmental protections must continue.

Auckland housing. View from Mount Eden summit

Auckland housing has been ranked severely unaffordable in an international survey. Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

The Government has enough votes to pass changes to the planning legislation, with ACT's sole MP David Seymour lending his support. A Treasury report on reforming the RMA is due out tomorrow, and Environment Minister Nick Smith will give a speech setting out the Government's direction.

Andrew Little

Andrew Little Photo: RNZ / Lauren Baker

Labour leader Andrew Little told Morning Report his party wanted to have constructive discussions about changes to the RMA and how the planning process could be speeded up.

"What we do need to see in the RMA and right across New Zealand is greater consistency," said Mr Little. Development levies were very high in some areas and needed to be addressed

"But it doesn't rule out the ... requirement and the desirability of consulting those who are affected by developments and new houses."

Mr Little said housing supply had to increase but the RMA was not the main problem. Incomes needed to rise to improve housing affordability.

Peter Dunne

Peter Dunne Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski

The comments come after an international housing affordability survey released yesterday ranked the Auckland housing market the ninth least affordable of the 400 cities it looked at. Wellington and Christchurch were also described as seriously unaffordable in the Demographia study.

Read the full report here (1.7MB)

Peter Dunne, whose United Future party also supports the National government, said the RMA's principles had held up for over 20 years and case law has developed around them.

"The fact that it might make some developments inconvenient is really irrelevant," said Mr Dunne.

"The Resource Management Act wasn't to be a fast track national development Act. The Resource Management Act was about putting in place some environmental safeguards, streamlining the planning process but ensuring that environmental sustainaibility was the bottom line."

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