Govt to replace RMA with three new laws in attempt to improve housing supply

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

The Resource Management Act (RMA), the piece of law that Government believes is stifling growth of housing stock, will be repealed and replaced with three new laws. 

Environment Minister David Parker called it a "once in a generation opportunity", with an aim to better protect the environment, while enabling growth to housing stock. 

"It takes too long and it costs too much and it hasn’t properly protected the environment," Parker said of the existing RMA, which has been in place for 30 years.

Parker said instead of allowing cities to respond to population growth, it restricted planning, which flowed through to contributing to unaffordable housing.

"We know we have a housing crisis."

He is reaching out to political parties in developing the new laws. 

One replacement law would provide land use and environmental regulation, another development and long-term regional spacial strategies and the last will be named the Climate Change Adaptation Act. 

Parker said the new laws "will improve the natural environment, enable more development within environmental limits, provide an effective role for Māori, and improve housing supply and affordability". 

He said processes around planning would be simplified, while costs and times would be reduced. 

"Urban areas are struggling to keep pace with population growth and the need for affordable housing. Water quality is deteriorating, biodiversity is diminishing and there is an urgent need to reduce carbon emissions and adapt to climate change.

"This reform will help by improving how central and local government plan for housing and urban development."

The RMA has been a topic of debate across Parliament, with National having attempted, and  repeatedly called for  the repeal of the RMA for years, with leader Judith Collins calling it a "monolithic block on development". 

Labour promised to repeal and replace the RMA during the election campaign last year. 

The Green Party, on the other hand, said blaming the RMA for housing constraints was a "tired excuse". 

"It won’t fix property speculation or land-banking," finance spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said. 

"It is time to courageously put the case for measures that will help end growing inequality in this country."

Before announcing its intention to repeal, the Government launched an overhaul of the Resource Management Act (RMA) in 2019, at the time saying its environmental outcomes were "disappointing" and it had contributed to the housing crisis. 

The RMA is the law that sets out how the country's resources are managed.