The period for submissions to the Select Committee has recently closed on the Urban Development Bill (Bill), which sets out the functions and powers of Kāinga Ora. Kāinga Ora is the Government’s new all-powerful urban development authority. See our earlier article on the establishment of Kāinga Ora here.
The key premise of the Bill is a specified development project (SDP) initiative, which is intended to streamline complex urban development projects.
What are SDPs?
SDPs are complex urban development projects that, if approved, have access to a range of powers to streamline development.
How are they established?
The establishment of an SDP begins with an initial assessment by Kāinga Ora of the viability of the project. Kāinga Ora must engage with city/district and regional councils to assess the extent to which the project aligns with their plans for urban growth. Kāinga Ora must also publicly notify the key features of the project and consider any submissions made, but there is no opportunity for a public hearing at this stage.
A project assessment and recommendation is then sent to the Minister of Finance and the Minister responsible for administering the legislation for their approval.
What happens once a SDP is established?
Once a SDP is established, Kāinga Ora prepares a draft development plan outlining:
- The proposed development powers and funding arrangements;
- Details of the proposed design; and
- How any relevant Māori, environmental and heritage interests will be protected.
Consultation is a key aspect of this stage. Kāinga Ora must consult with Māori, key stakeholders, and owners and occupiers of land within the defined project area. Public submissions will also be heard by an independent panel before the development plan is provided to the Minister administering the legislation for approval. Submitters will be able to appeal to the High Court on questions of law in relation to development plans.
What powers are afforded to SDPs?
A range of development powers designed to overcome barriers to development are afforded to SDPs. These include the power to:
- Override, add to, or suspend provisions in Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) plans or policy statements that apply to the project area;
- Act as a consent authority or requiring authority under the RMA;
- Arranging funding for infrastructure and development;
- Levy targeted rates and development contributions;
- Build and change infrastructure, including the reconfiguration of reserves; and
- Acquire and transfer land, with similar safeguards as under the Public Works Act 1981 (although where development has been undertaken on land, the land will not be required to be offered back to the original owner).
How are Māori interests provided for?
Kāinga Ora is expected to undertake early and meaningful engagement with relevant Māori interests. The Bill aims to foster Māori participation in urban development and recognises the historical and contemporary disparities that Māori face in housing.
The Bill gives broad and significant powers to Kāinga Ora, which may impact on land ownership and development and existing businesses. We expect this will have been a key aspect of the submissions made to the Select Committee. We will report again as the Bill progresses further.
Resource Management team
Click here for other Resource Management Law articles.