Advocacy in Action: Tis the season to be…jolly?

It is Annual Plan season, which is basically like Christmas for our advocacy team as it is our busiest time of the year. Over the next four to six weeks, we review each council’s yearly budget to ensure that each council commits to what they promised last year.

We dive into the detail, so you don’t have to. Here’s our wrap up of what is happening in your region:

Annual Plan

Auckland Council was the first cab off the ranks and has already completed its consultation process for their Draft Annual Budget. The most significant proposal was to collect an additional $574 million over 10 years to fund a Climate Action Package. Namely, to invest in buses, ferries, walking, cycling and our urban forest canopy.

Although the proposed policy was called a “Climate Action Package”, the majority of spending is within the transport realm. Therefore, despite our support towards the proposed package, we recommend that Auckland Council use unspent funds from the regional fuel tax to reduce the required size of ratepayer contribution.

Read the submission

Council to propose updates to development maps mid-April

In a few weeks, the Council will be releasing its preliminary response to the National Policy Statement on Urban Development and the recent housing supply legislation on 19 April. The proposed maps will be centred around “walkable catchments” and shape the future of Auckland development. 

With only three weeks to respond (deadline 9 May), we encourage members to familiarise themselves ahead of time by visiting this website. Feedback will be sought on a limited number of matters that the council has discretion over and Property Council will be submitting on these.

If you wish to be involved in this workstream, please contact Logan Rainey.

Hamilton City Council Development Contributions Policy

Hamilton City Council has released proposed updates to their Development Contribution Policy here.

The most significant proposal is changes to the definition of Gross Floor Area (GFA). Generally speaking, development contribution fees are collected on GFAs, so given the proposal some areas could see increased costs. For example, the proposal to incorporate car parking of developments could have significant feasibility consequences.

Submissions are open until Monday 14 April. If you wish to view Property Council’s draft submission, please contact Logan Rainey.

Tauranga City Council Long Term Plan Amendment and Annual Plan

Tauranga City Council has proposed two significant amendments to last year’s Long Term Plan.

Firstly, the Long Term Plan amendment proposes a significant investment ($303m) into the CBD. We strongly support this initiative and will be submitting in favour. The second proposal entails the use of IFF funding to fund a Transport Plan and to provide infrastructure for the Tauriko West Development; we are broadly in favour of this approach and have specific questions/comments we will be expressing to Council within our submission.

As part of the Annual Plan, Tauranga City Council are proposing to increase the general rating differential from 1:1.6 to 1:2.13 over a two-year period and to also increase the rating differential in the targeted transport rate from 1:1.6 to 1:5. These are significant increases to the costs faced by local businesses. For example, the increase to the transport targeted rate differential means that for every $1 that a resident pays, the commercial sector will pay $5 (if their property value is the same). We have huge concern over the accumulative effect of these changes on the property sector in Tauranga. 

Are you concerned too? Please contact Logan Rainey to have your voice heard.         

Tauranga City Council Development Contributions Policy

Tauranga City Council has released its draft Development Contributions Policy which seeks to increase citywide development contributions by 15% to $32,754 while also increasing local development contributions.

We are concerned about the impact this will have on development prospects and new build house prices in Tauranga.

Consultation closes on 26 April. If you wish to view Property Council’s draft submission, please contact Logan Rainey.

Tauranga City Council Housing Supply Pre-engagement

Property Council have had early contact from the Council on its proposed plan changes to enable housing supply

Early engagement differs from regular consultation, as early engagement helps the Council form ideas and policies prior to seeking formal advice and feedback. Here at Property Council, we find early engagement enables us to be at the forefront of decision-making and can more effectively campaign for our members. 

Formal submissions on the proposed plan change will occur later in the year.

Annual Plan

Wellington City Council propose making a significant amendment to their Annual Plan by increasing rates differentials from 3.25 to 3.7. This means that for every $1 a resident pays, the commercial sector will pay $3.70 – the highest rating differential in the country.

Wellington City Council also have the highest proportional split of commercial to residential, with commercial businesses paying 44% and residents paying 56%. To put this in perspective, Auckland Council’s current split is 31.33% commercial, 68.67% residential but they are seeking to reduce this to 25% over a number of years.

We have concerns as to the significant proportion of rates the commercial property sector pays in Wellington, and want to see business-friendly investment into the CBD and surrounding suburbs.

To have your views heard within our submission, please contact Sandamali Gunawardena.

Economic Wellbeing Strategy

The Council are seeking feedback on their Economic Wellbeing Strategy. This strategy sets out six goals for Wellington to focus on over the next 10 years. In particular, transitioning to a circular economy, a business-friendly city and a dynamic city heart and thriving suburban centres.

South Island
Christchurch City Council Annual Plan

There are a couple of things that caught our eye reading the Christchurch City Council’s Draft Annual Plan.

Under the Vacant Sites Programme, the Council is proposing to adopt a rating differential to help beautify the CBD’s vacant sites. We oppose the adoption of a rating differential because although a site may appear vacant, property owners may be considering their development options, especially in times like this where it might not be economically viable to develop.

The Council is proposing to amend the Revenue and Financing Policy to recognise financial contributions as a possible revenue source. Given that commercial property owners are already facing a multitude of costs, and the risk that the Council may be ‘double-dipping’, this is something that Property Council does not support. 

If you wish to view Property Council’s draft submission, please contact Sandamali Gunawardena.

Queenstown Lakes District Council Annual Plan

Among the many things Council is proposing for 2022/23, the Council has proposed two options regarding budgeting for the Climate and Biodiversity Plan. We are disappointed to see that there are two wildly different options proposed and no third option that is a happy medium.

Meanwhile, we welcome the Council’s decision to adjust the budget for legal fees to defend claims against it by property owners relating to weather tightness and other building defects.

If you wish to view Property Council’s draft submission, please contact Sandamali Gunawardena.

Final words

As you can see, it is a busy time at Property Council New Zealand for the advocacy team. Our team has done the mahi so you don’t have to.

In addition to our advocacy team, a huge shout out to each of the Regional Committees, whose members discuss these proposals with us and provide us with feedback on our submissions. We couldn’t do it without your local knowledge and expertise. You are the real MVPs.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the advocacy team should you have any questions or comments. 

We love hearing from you.  

Katherine and the A-Team

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