RMA changes won't build more homes

The National Government must stop using the Resource Management Act as the straw manfor its own failure to build more homes and put an end to the country’s housing crisis, the Green Party says.

Today, Environment Minister Nick Smith announced the first tranche of plans to weaken the RMA saying that it was ‘crucial’ to addressing housing supply and affordability. However, property developers and planners today said the Act isn’t standing in their way.

“Changing the RMA won’t build a single home,” Green Party RMA spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said.

“The Government has the ability to build affordable homes and address the housing crisis now but it is simply not doing it. New Zealand needs a major state home building programme, to meet the need for new homes and drive down high prices.

“National has demonised the RMA, turning it in to a straw man for its own failure to address the housing problem. In the process it is prepared to damage our environment.

“Blaming resource consent fees for the housing crisis is ridiculous. It’s nonsense to say that housing development is being prevented because the RMA adds an extra $15,000 to the cost of a new home when the average median house price in Auckland has increased by a whopping $228,400 under National.

“Just today the New Zealand Planning Institute said that the land can be zoned and consents approved that didn’t physically get the houses built. It cited research that found that many land parcels had not been developed due to personal, family or business circumstances, the cost of developing the land, as well as land holding and speculation for capital gain.

“The Government is twisting the evidence to justify its agenda to reduce the legal protections of our environment in favour of development, despite widespread opposition to the plan. This law change is only possible with the support of the sole ACT MP David Seymour.

“The Green Party would increase the supply of affordable housing by undertaking a programme of state building, introduce a capital gains tax, and introduce a Progressive Ownership initiative to allow low income families to 'rent-to-own' government-built houses at an affordable price.

“These policies will make a difference for New Zealanders who can’t afford a home,” Ms Genter said.