Fast-track legislation extended by a year
The COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act 2020 came into force on 8 July 2020. It was intended to provide for a short-term consenting process to fast-track projects that could boost employment and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Act originally had a sunset clause of two years meaning it was automatically repealed on 8 July 2022. The various transitional provisions in the Act made it clear that referral applications to the Minister to use the fast-track process would have a cut-off point of early 2022.
The recently introduced COVID-19 Response (Management Measures) Legislation Bill, which had its first reading on 29 September 2021, proposes to extend the repeal date by a year to 8 July 2023. There is a short time to make submissions on the Bill, with submissions closing tomorrow, 5 October.
To date, a range of applications have been referred by Minister Parker to use the fast-track process, including Drury Central and Paerata Stations, Ohinewai Foam Factory development, retirement villages, new Dunedin hospital, Kapuni Green Hydrogen, and residential developments. The Vines project to develop 45 residential sections in Richmond, south of Nelson, became the first project to be referred by the Minister but declined by an expert consenting panel, on 17 September 2021.
Emissions budgets and plans
The COVID-19 Response (Management Measures) Legislation Bill also includes provisions to extend the statutory deadline for the setting of emission budgets and the preparation of the Emission Reduction Plan required under the Climate Change Response Act 2002 from 31 December 2021 to 31 May 2022. The delay has triggered significant criticism of the Government for failing to release the Plan on time despite New Zealand facing growing climate change challenges.
Despite this, the draft Emissions Reductions Plan will be released in early October 2021 for public consultation, with its purpose to provide a policy roadmap for reaching New Zealand's emissions reductions targets. Submitting on the draft Plan will be an important opportunity to comment on and shape the proposed policy direction on climate change.
GPS on Housing and Urban Development
Earlier this year the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development (MHUD) released a discussion document outlining the key elements expected to be included in the Government Policy Statement on Housing and Urban Development (GPS-HUD). The Ministry has now released its final GPS-HUD.
The GPS-HUD is intended to inform, influence and align activity across the system to respond to the challenges New Zealand is facing with housing. Importantly, it is not intended to provide a blueprint of all future activity. MHUD will administer the GPS-HUD, co-ordinate action across government and with others, track progress, and lead the required three-yearly review.
The GPS-HUD provides high-level outcomes, focus areas and priorities and acknowledges that local government and infrastructure sectors are key enablers for housing and urban development – particularly for ensuring that there is sufficient development capacity for housing and business land.
Relevant to local government, the GPS-HUD provides support to address housing focus areas and deliver housing in the following way:
clarifies central government goals and expectations relating to the provision of affordable housing;
outlines funding and principles that inform investment (investment and regulation to ensure streamlined, adequate and sustainable supply and management of drinking, wastewater and stormwater services (for example, the Three Waters Reform));
calls for planning and decision-making to be better aligned between central and local government – to ensure that land, infrastructure, good urban design, and the right types of housing supply come together in the right places; and
reaffirms commitment to urban growth and place-based partnerships.
The GPS-HUD is established under the Kāinga Ora-Homes and Communities Act 2019. While the GPS-HUD is not a legislative instrument, that Act requires Kāinga Ora to "give effect" to the GPS-HUD when performing its functions. Under the Kāinga Ora-Homes and Communities Act 2019, the GPS can be changed at any time and must be reviewed every 3 years.