National proposes new law to get more houses built

National is proposing an alternative solution to the housing shortage that will urgently address the country’s land supply problem and help councils fund supporting infrastructure.

  • Judith Collins’ Member’s Bill will put in place emergency powers similar to those used to speed up house building in Canterbury following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes

  • New law would require all urban councils to immediately zone more land for housing – enough for at least 30 years of expected growth

  • Resource Management Act (RMA) appeals process would be limited to ensure these new district plans can be completed and put in place rapidly

  • $50,000 infrastructure grant would be provided to all local authorities (urban and rural) for every new dwelling they consent above their five-year historical average

Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins has drafted a Member’s Bill that will go into the ballot this week. The draft legislation will effectively put in place emergency powers similar to those used to ramp up house building in Canterbury following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

The law change would also incentivise councils to lift their game by providing a grant of $50,000-per-house for every new dwelling consented over and above a historical average.

This streamlined mechanism for allocating the Government’s $3.8 billion Housing Acceleration Fund would provide councils a simple tool for funding the infrastructure needed to support new housing, such as pipes, roads and public transport stops.

“National doesn’t share Labour’s view that you can tax your way out of a housing shortage,” Ms Collins says.

“The time has come for an extraordinary solution to this unfolding emergency. We need to short circuit the faltering RMA to get more houses built.”

These RMA changes will expire after four years, reflecting the fact they are a temporary solution while more fundamental changes are made to New Zealand’s planning laws. Rural councils would not be compelled to rezone but could utilise the new powers if they wished.

National’s approach has a proven track record of success in Christchurch where the resulting surge in housing supply after the earthquakes saw affordability improve while it was deteriorating across the rest of the country.

House prices rose by 7.4 per cent annually across New Zealand from July 2014 to March 2019, but only rose by 2.9 per cent annually in Christchurch during that time.

Ms Collins says swift action is needed to help first-home buyers, with New Zealand’s housing market now the least affordable in the OECD.

She will be writing to all Members of Parliament to seek their support for her bill to go straight on to the Order Paper, rather than into the Member’s Ballot.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern could also do the right thing by New Zealanders by adopting this Member’s Bill as government legislation to help it become law faster, Ms Collins says.

“National is the party of home ownership. We are committed to sensible solutions that will get more New Zealanders into their own home without hitting them with more taxes.”

A copy of the Housing Emergency Response (Urgent Measures) Bill can be found here.

You can also read a Q&A on the Housing Emergency Response (Urgent Measures) Bill here.

Note: The following territorial authorities would be required to rezone land in their district/city plans:

  • Auckland Council
  • Hamilton City Council
  • Waikato District Council
  • Waipā District Council
  • Tauranga City Council
  • Western Bay of Plenty District Council
  • Wellington City Council
  • Porirua City Council
  • Hutt City Council
  • Upper Hutt City Council
  • Kāpiti Coast District Council
  • Christchurch City Council
  • Selwyn District Council
  • Waimakariri District Council
  • Whangarei District Council
  • Rotorua District Council
  • New Plymouth District Council
  • Napier City Council
  • Hastings District Council
  • Palmerston North City Council
  • Nelson City Council
  • Tasman District Council
  • Queenstown Lakes District Council
  • Dunedin City Council