It is crazy to think that another year is almost behind us, but here we are in the last month of 2023.
While we breathe a big sigh of relief that if feels like we are reaching familiar levels of normality in Aotearoa, our industry has enough other matters to keep us well and truly on our toes in terms of some pretty big changes that have come in – and now on their way out.
These changes are something that our Planning team has kept a close eye on over the past year, particularly around ongoing uncertainty with the Resource Management Act (RMA) reforms, freshwater legislation, and three waters.
Recently, our team caught up to reflect on legislation changes and share what we know about these changes and their impacts.
Here’s what we discussed:
Resource Management Act
In August, the Labour government finalised the first stage of work on the repeal of the Resource Management Act (RMA), replacing it with two new pieces of legislation (with the Climate Change Adaptation Act (CAA) to follow):
- Natural & Built Environment Act (NBA)
- Spatial Planning Act (SPA)
However, following a change in government in November, work is now underway to repeal the NBA and the SPA in early 2024, meaning that the legislation will revert to the RMA. It should also be noted that some parts of the NBA will be retained, including the fast-track consenting regime.
Following this, the government is committed to further reforms of the RMA, with a focus on making it easier to consent new infrastructure, farming, building more houses, and enabling aquaculture and other primary industries.
Ultimately, what these future tweaks to the RMA will mean for development and consenting is still unknown. But what is clear is that there is still a period of uncertainty ahead of us.
The government has also signalled their intent to review and replace the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management 2020 (NPS-FM). It will be critical to ensure that in making amendments to or replacing the NPS-FM, an appropriate balance is achieved between appropriate environmental protection while also enabling development in the right places.
The Three Waters legislation is also on its way out, with legislation expected to pass early next year to repeal it. The government is looking to implement a new regime that focuses on local decision-making and flexibility for communities and councils to determine how their water services will be delivered in the future. With the Northland and Auckland Water Services Entity already stood up, this will now need to be disestablished.
The cost of upgrading and expanding this critical infrastructure will need to be incorporated back into the 2024-2034 council's long-term plans.
Finding certainty in uncertain times
These are certainly dynamic times for the land development industry. What this looks like in 2024 will be interesting, along with how unlocking land for housing will be balanced with achieving appropriate environmental protection and ensuring there is infrastructure (including social infrastructure) in place to serve continued growth.
Our team at Woods is here to help our clients work within the requirements of the legislation, old, new, and not yet certain.
Our aim is always to create the best possible outcomes for any and every development.