Urban Development Bill

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The Urban Development Bill is the second piece of legislation designed to enable Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities to transform our urban areas and create sustainable, inclusive and thriving communities. 

It complements the Kāinga Ora-Homes and Communities Act 2019, which established Kāinga Ora on 1 October 2019. 

The Urban Development Bill is available here on the Legislation website.

You can follow the progress of the Urban Development Bill on the New Zealand Parliament website.

Why is the Urban Development Bill needed?

New Zealand’s urban areas are facing unprecedented pressure. While urban areas are growing, they are experiencing several challenges. These include unaffordable housing, rising urban land prices, increasing homelessness and pressure on the public housing register, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, lack of transport choice, and flattening productivity. 

The current urban development system does not effectively facilitate and enable comprehensive, large-scale, timely urban development that delivers a range of economic, social and environmental outcomesThis is because there is not the tools, certainty and coordination required.   

A new way of doing urban development is needed to transform our urban areas, lift living standards, and enable New Zealanders to live in safe, warm homes that are connected to the jobs, transport, community facilities and green spaces they need. 

Policy work on urban development authorities in New Zealand dates back to 2008. There have been several government discussion documents and Productivity Commission reports over this period that have directly informed the policy in the Bill. 

What does the Urban Development Bill do?

The Urban Development Bill tackles these long-term challenges by providing Kāinga Ora - Homes and Communities with: 

  • the ability to enable, lead or facilitate a special type of complex, transformational development – called specified development projects (SDPs) 
  • access to a tool-kit of development powers when undertaking SDPs 
  • access to land acquisition powers when undertaking urban development projects (including SDPs).  

The Bill is designed to provide the tools, certainty and coordination needed to enable complex, transformational development that will improve the social and economic performance of New Zealand’s urban areas. 

The Bill is not designed to address wider issues in the urban development and planning system, for example those issues covered by the comprehensive review of the resource management system.  

The Urban Development Bill - Outcome [PDF, 4.7 MB]

Specified development projects are a new way to undertake urban development

The Urban Development Bill creates a process to progress a new type of urban development project – called a specified development project (SDP). These are the kinds of projects that struggle to progress in the current environment because of the barriers they face. These barriers include fragmented land parcels, uncoordinated decision-making, poor and aging infrastructure, and restrictive planning requirements. 

SDPs are designed to deliver improved urban development outcomes, including a mix of housing types, good transport connections, employment and business opportunities, key infrastructure, community facilities, and green spaces. 

The value of the SDP process is that it brings together multiple, disconnected development processes and enables them to be accessed through a single, more streamlined process, without losing important checks and balances. This results in all the planning, infrastructure and funding for a project being sorted up front, providing greater certainty and coordination for developers and investors. 

The Bill sets out a rigorous process before the delivery of a specified development project can begin. This will ensure projects can be shaped by local needs and aspirations, and the benefits of urban development are balanced against environmental, cultural and heritage considerations. 

Key features of this process include early engagement with Māori and key stakeholders, and full public consultation on the development plan for the project. 

Specified development project process [PDF, 1.7 MB]

The Urban Development Bill provides a tool-kit of development powers when undertaking a specified development project

Where approved by the development plan for an SDP, Kāinga Ora and its partners will have access to a tool-kit of development powers that currently exist through numerous separate pieces of legislation. Each power is designed to address a specific barrier to complex, transformational urban development.  

These powers include: 

  • the ability to override, add to, or suspend provisions in RMA plans or policy statements in the development plan that applies to the project area
  • act as a consent authority and requiring authority under the RMA
  • the ability to create, reconfigure and reclassify reserves 
  • the ability to build, change, and move infrastructure 
  • tools to fund infrastructure and development activities, including the ability to levy targeted rates. 

Used together, the powers enable multiple aspects of the urban environment to be changed with greater certainty, integration and speed. 

None of the powers can be used in respect of Māori customary land, Māori reserves and reservations, or any parts of the common marine and coastal area in which customary marine title or protected customary rights have been recognised.  

Summary of Powers available to Kāinga Ora [PDF, 744 KB]

Kāinga Ora will have land acquisition powers

The Bill gives Kāinga Ora access to land acquisition powers when undertaking any work for the purpose of urban development.  This will enable Kāinga Ora to use these powers when undertaking both SDPs and other urban development projects.  

These land acquisition powers will enable Kāinga Ora to bring together different parcels of land to help support and progress urban development. This will support Kāinga Ora to undertake smaller-scale developments that are not specified development projects, and to acquire land in future development areas prior to any further uplift in land values following a project’s announcement. For example, acquiring land along a transport corridor before the route is made public. 

These powers are largely equivalent to the existing powers in the Public Works Act 1981 (PWA). However, there is greater clarity than the PWA around the works for which Kāinga Ora can acquire land compulsorily. 

There are several safeguards built into the Bill to ensure the land acquisition powers are used appropriately. In particular, the Bill recognises that land is a taonga for Māori and must be protected. Protections for land in which Māori have interests have been built into the land acquisition provisions. 

The Urban Development Bill will protect Māori interests and support Māori aspirations in urban development

The Urban Development Bill is designed to complement the broad framework for how Kāinga Ora must consider Māori interests in the Kāinga Ora–Homes and Communities Act 2019. This broad framework includes an expectation that Kāinga Ora will engage early and meaningfully with Māori when undertaking urban development and offer Māori opportunities to participate in urban development. 

The Urban Development Bill sets out in more detail the agency’s obligations to Māori in urban development. It recognises the aspirations that Māori have in urban development, as potential development partners, as people significantly impacted by historic and current pressures in housing, and through their connections with the land and other natural resources.  

The Bill establishes protections for Māori land and a strong expectation that Kāinga Ora will identify and support Māori aspirations for urban development, including through the opportunity to participate in development. 

The Urban Development Bill must be read subject to anything in a Treaty settlement Act or deed, Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993, and the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011. This ensures that the Crown is still able to meet its obligations. 

Māori Aspirations Factsheet [PDF, 434 KB]

More information

The Ministry of Housing and Urban Development has released all Cabinet papers about Kāinga Ora. In these documents you can find out more about the advice and decision-making processes behind the creation of Kāinga Ora.

Cabinet papers and related documents

For more information on Kāinga Ora or the Urban Development Bill please email your enquiry to info@hud.govt.nz

Published: May 18, 2020

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