Advocacy in a Nutshell | December 2018
Welcome to the December edition of Advocacy in a Nutshell; the latest update from our advocacy team, featuring all of the projects, policy and issues that matter to you.
This month we're giving you a snapshot of:
- Urban Development Authorities
- The Productivity Commission's review of local government funding and charges
- Auckland development contributions
- Phase Two of the Overseas Investment Act review
- Surveys: your voice being heard
The Government's announcement on Urban Development Authorities with housing at the centre and plans to extend the Special Housing Area legislation are positive, but many questions remain over the cost of implementation and exactly what new powers will be brought in.
We are hopeful that this new model will speed up the decision-making process on new developments and are pleased that the new Authority will look at the big picture of development. At present we are continuing to engage with the Minister on this initative and will look forward to working closely with the new Authority on our members behalf.
A large amount of local government funding comes directly from the commerical property industry through rates and development contributions. The Productivity Commission’s inquiry reviewing local government funding has released a discussion paper seeking submissions by 15 February. This will be an excellent opportunity for Property Council to promote our position.
Property Council continues to be concerned with Auckland Council’s Draft Contributions Policy 2019.
We believe it has been rushed and doesn’t meet the Local Government Act, particularly around the casual nexus test and transparency. On Friday 23 November Property Council, along with other key stakeholders, presented our feedback to councillors as part of Auckland Council's consultation on the policy.
Property Council took a principled approach, recommending that the Council start from scratch to ensure compliance with the Local Government Act (LGA) and better engage with the industry.
The proposed changes raise three key concerns:
- Process - lack of compliance with the LGA and engagement with industry
- Projects (Schedule 8) - lack of specificity for several projects which may not comply with the LGA.
- Basis for calculation - a lack of transparency and justification as to why the development contributions have so dramatically increased for the commercial sector since the previous draft. This may also not comply with the LGA and may have unintended consequences on what can be developed and where. E.g. Creating residential wastelands from a lack of amenity and services being developed due to significant increases in charges for retail and commercial.
Property Council and many of our members made a strong and impassioned plea for a pause to proceedings and we are hopeful that the Council has heard our voice. Councillors are discussing the policy over a series of workshops, with an expectation to adopt it at their next meeting on the 13 December.
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Recently the Government launched the second phase of reform of the Overseas Investment Act which aims to reduce the complexity and cut unnecessary red tape. Treasury will lead a review of the Act, looking at whether it adequately protects New Zealand’s national interest and how it can operate more efficiently and effectively. This builds on recent amendments to the Act which included the ban on foreign buyers acquiring existing homes, as well as measures to encourage foreign investment in forestry. Public consultation on reform of the Act will take place in the first half of 2019 with legislative changes expected to be completed by mid-2020. Given the current Government’s willingness to review the Act, this provides us with another opportunity to raise issues that could provide for a more efficient system.
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You may recall last month we asked members to participate in a survey to gather feedback on the medium density housing consenting process - a call that proved suvccessful with nearly 400 participants making their voice heard. This data will now be collated and analysed by Beacon Pathway and ourselves with a report expected in early 2019. Thank you to all those who participated - it's fantastic to see our industry making their voice heard.
While surveys can seem tedious at times, the impact of hard data cannot be underestimated, with the Reserve Bank recently citing the RICS Global Commercial Property Monitor in their six-monthly Credit Conditions Survey.
Author | Matt Paterson
As Property Council's Head of Advocacy, Matt leads our team of advocacy advisors, researchers and public affairs experts. Based in Wellington but frequently found in all corners of the country, Matt has his finger on the pulse of central government, providing valuable insights for our membership and acting as the conduit between our members and the country's movers, shakers and policy makers.