About urban development authorities (UDAs)

Urban development authorities (UDA) are set up to oversee urban development projects —which could be for housing or commercial purposes — supported by necessary infrastructure like:

  • roads and water supply, and
  • amenities like parks, community spaces and shopping centres.

Urban development authorities overseas

Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth are all using UDA to help with urban transformation.

Similar approaches have been taken in London and Singapore, creating commercially viable and sustainable development, high-quality design and urban regeneration. They have also accelerated housing supply, built community facilities and services, and kick-started redevelopment in areas where there was little market interest.

Why a UDA is needed in New Zealand

The growth of New Zealand cities has predominantly occurred by expansion of the urban footprint into the surrounding countryside.

Our development framework and rules have been designed for this approach. However, like many developed countries, we’re entering a new phase of city development involving substantial redevelopment of existing urban areas.

In 2015 the Productivity Commission recommended that a UDA be able to assemble sites, master-plan large residential developments and partner with private sector groups to deliver them.

Duration of urban development authority projects

UDA are formed to oversee a development project for a certain period of time. For larger projects, this could be up to 20 years. The development project is then disestablished, but the UDA itself may continue to oversee other development projects.

Use for projects other than housing

Types of projects on which the UDA could focus include the development of:

  • areas of regional or national importance
  • areas where the public owns significant land-holdings, such as suburbs with high concentrations of Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities land
  • areas where government is investing significantly in public services or amenities, such as health or educational institutions
  • areas along new or revitalised transport corridors, or around centres identified for growth
  • inner-city brownfield areas and under-utilised commercial and residential neighbourhoods where land ownership is fragmented
  • under-utilised areas where there’s potential for urban transformation to support local economic development.


Published: September 12, 2019