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Development Rules About To Change

Hamish Frizzell looks at the effects of the RMA amendments for would-be land developers.

By: Hamish Frizzell

31 May 2022

With this month’s NZ Property Investor focusing on townhouses, land developers probably want to start thinking about how the Resource Management Act changes will affect housing supply and demand later this year. Passed hurriedly into law in December 2021, the government changed many policies around how developers can rapidly increase housing supply in order to mitigate the potential demand shortfall of 130,000 homes over the next five years. District and city councils will have until mid-August to advise on how they will implement the new rules, which will remove most zoning standards to allow for increased density within the qualifying areas.

Big News For Suburbs

The big take away for the average homeowner in the city fringes is that suburban landscapes are about to change. The removal of resource consent in most cases will allow an increased number of dwellings to be built on site. Developers will still require building consents and have to comply with relevant building standards, but the size, shape and density will likely increase significantly in most areas. You may see your neighbour’s home knocked down and replaced with two or three new townhouses, each up to three storeys high.

‘If you are a fan of leafy-green character communities you might be in for a shock’

City Vs Landscapes

If you are a fan of leafy-green character communities you might be in for a shock. The Act removes many of the preservations and protections of green aesthetics.

Anyone wishing to “in-fill” or alter their existing dwelling to be within the new parameters, can do so without resource consent. Building requirements for parking provisions have been removed so you can expect to see more multi-unit apartments in your street, with owners expected to live without a vehicle or park on roadsides, at least until local authority parking restrictions come in! Developers no longer have to consider your views or your preference for trees.

The Tree Council did lodge proceedings with the High Court in November 2021 against Auckland Council’s decision not to process any of the 587 nominations received over the past seven to 10 years to schedule trees as notable and protected.

However, the government’s long-term goal for intensified development is likely to be at odds with this and any further protections that stand in the way of development.

Next Steps For Investors

Potentially we could start seeing changes from the Act coming into our communities as early as August if local district and council plans are already finalised, submitted and accepted. Whatever new provisions your council brings in, if you are thinking of intensification for your existing residential property, the first thing you need is to touch base with your local surveyor. By working with them and your chosen designer, you will be able to identify options for retaining or removing existing dwellings to provide the best return for your situation.

The legislation will likely be a bit of a minefield until all councils determine their local rules and it will be important for you to know what can be done in your area to take advantage of the continued rising demand for townhouses.

We are on the cusp of big changes to our communities, with these changes potentially turning every homeowner into a land developer.

It’s definitely important to watch the changes coming to these rules closely, if you’re wanting to play the development game

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