The government's Housing Legislation Amendment Bill (Bill) was passed under urgency on 7 September 2016. The Bill amends the Housing Accords and Special Housing Areas Act 2013 (HASHA Act) to extend the date by which Special Housing Areas (SHAs) can be established. It also amends the Housing Act 1955 to confirm that the offer-back obligations to former owners under the Public Works Act 1981 do not apply to the disposal of State housing land where the disposal is necessary to achieve the Crown's housing objectives.
Changes to SHA regime
There are four key changes:
- The time limit for creating SHAs has been extended by three years. Without the Bill, the authority to establish such areas would have lapsed on 16 September 2016. The government indicated the extension is needed to cope with demand for housing in high growth areas outside of Auckland, such as Queenstown, Hamilton and Nelson. SHAs are still envisaged as an interim measure until the National Policy Statement on Urban Development Capacity is implemented. The new deadline for establishing an SHA is 16 September 2019 and the repeal of the HASHA Act will occur on 16 September 2021.
- There is a new 12 month time limit for making resource consent applications in SHAs to discourage land banking. Existing SHAs will be disestablished either on their one year anniversary or, if they were established before 16 September 2015, when the Bill comes into effect on 16 September 2016. New SHAs, established after the Bill comes into effect, will be disestablished on 16 September 2019. However, the Housing Minister now has power to recommend disestablishing an SHA early or removing land from an SHA if more than 12 months have passed since establishment and no consent application or plan change has been lodged.
- Changes have been made to the HASHA Act to allow plan change requests made but not completed under the HASHA Act to continue when a proposed district plan becomes operative. This provision is targeted at five SHAs in Auckland, but will also apply generally. Without the amendment, any pending HASHA Act plan change requests would be automatically withdrawn once a new district plan becomes operative, and a developer would need to start the plan change process again from scratch.
- The Bill clarifies the relevant resource management plan that local authorities use to assess consent applications and plan change requests under the HASHA Act. Applications and plan requests should be assessed against the version of the proposed plan that applied at the time of application, unless an applicant requests otherwise. As the latest version of a new plan may be more beneficial to an applicant, there is a right to choose which option is best.
Changes to Housing Act
The Bill also amends the Housing Act 1955 to confirm that the offer-back obligations to former owners under the Public Works Act 1981 do not apply (and, to avoid doubt, have never applied) to the disposal of State housing land where the disposal is necessary to achieve the Crown's housing objectives. The amendment was seen as necessary to avoid uncertainty and potential delays in the government's housing delivery programme.
The Housing Legislation Amendment Act will come into force on 15 September 2016.
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