New Zealand Aims to Reduce 5 Year Lead in for Major Housing Projects from 5 years to 1

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Housing Minister Phil Twyford has detailed plans for the long-discussed Urban Development Authority, a Crown mega-developer with the power to transform suburbs.

The agency, known as the Housing and Urban Development Authority (UDA), will combine KiwiBuild, Housing New Zealand, and its subsidiary HLC into a “one stop shop”.

Twyford said the UDA would have two key roles: leading urban development projects and being a public landlord.

“Our plan is to reduce the amount of time it takes to go from concept to build – that currently would be five years or more – to one year.
Housing and Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford announced plans for a new Crown development agency in Auckland on Saturday.

This would be achieved by “streamlining” the RMA planning process for larger development projects, which he admitted could result in limited appeals.

This, in turn, would be mitigated by having much more community consultation up front, leading to “much less litigation at the back end”.

“The community can still have a say. We’re going to have an independent hearing panel headed by an Environment Court judge.”

Labour promised 100,000 new homes in 10 years. Its first deadline is 1000 built by July 1, 2019.

For some complex development projects, the UDA would have access to a range of statutory powers, funding infrastructure and development, bringing together parcels of land and reconfiguring reserves.

“The authority will transform the way New Zealanders live, work and play by building communities with a mix of public, affordable, and market housing, as well as the jobs, transport links, open spaces and facilities people need,” Twyford said.

“It will do this at scale and pace so we can build our way out of the national housing crisis.”

For large-scale developments, the authority would have to seek the agreement of local councils and enter into public consultation.

It would also be able to enter into agreements with local authorities to create infrastructure and amenities around those developments.

Twyford said the authority would also be the new landlord for houses and tenancies currently managed by Housing New Zealand (HNZ).

However, there would be “no change” for HNZ tenants.

“This Government is committed to ensuring Housing New Zealand and the authority is a world class landlord.”

The authority would also build more public housing for those in “greatest need”, Twyford said.

It was modelled on examples from overseas in the UK and Australia and been in the pipeline for about 12 months. Cabinet papers about it would be released for public feedback.

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development would report back to Cabinet on the plans within the next few months.

Legislation would then be needed to establish the authority through Parliament.

Documents released by Twyford indicate ‘brownfield’ development would be a big target for the new Crown agency. Brownfield development is redevelopment of already-developed land into newer housing and infrastructure.

“Second generation or ‘brownfield’ development is often difficult and risky with poor quality, ageing or at-capacity infrastructure and disparate and fragmented land ownership. This means it’s often too risky and difficult for the private sector to do alone,” the documents stated.

“The authority will drive change and urban renewal through transformational urban development. New public housing will be built alongside affordable and market rental housing, KiwiBuild, and open market housing.”

The UDA was expected to be created by 2020 and carry out its first projects – including developments that had already been announced in Porirua and the Auckland suburbs of Mount Roskill and Māngere – in that year.

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