At ACT's annual conference, party leader John Banks has outlined specific changes to the Resource Management Act that he says will reverse a bias against subdividing land.
"We face a housing affordability crisis in Auckland," Mr Banks told party members who gathered at the surreal and wonderous Gibbs Farm in Kaipara over the weekend, surrounded by yaks, emu, giraffes and giant artwork.
"First home buyers face housing costs almost as unaffordable as London," the leader said.
The party's new "Freedom to Build" policy document says that
- In 1980 the ratio of median house price to median income was around 2 to 1
- In 1990 it was around 3 to 1
- Today it is 5.3 to 1
For Labour and the Greens, a government created problem requires a government ‘soviet style’ housing solution, Mr Banks said.
Instead, the core problem had to be addressed: the Resource Management Act.
The 382-page Act had a positive intent when it was introduced, replacing 59 pieces of legislation.
It was supposed to free up development and simplifiy processes.
"Twenty-three years later, it is a 900 page job destroying machine," Mr Banks said.
The RMA had developed a built-in bias against subdivision that had restricted land supply and pushed up prices.
For example, Land two kilometres inside Auckland’s Urban limit is 8.65 times more expensive than land two kilometres outside it.
Mr Banks said ACT's new "freedom to build" policy would give the RMA a presumption in favour of subdivision.
Specifically, the party proposes:
- Amending section 6 to specify that the protection of private property rights is of prime national importance.
- Reversing the presumption against compensation in section 85, so that individuals who have their property rights taken or infringed can seek compensation.
- Amending section 32 to reintroduce a test of the necessity for a provision in terms of the public interest.
- Further amending section 32 to require that the assessment of costs and benefits to members of the community must be in accordance with the framework used for assessing the costs and benefits of central government laws and regulations.
- Reversing the presumption against subdivision in section 11(1) so that it asserts that subdivision is permitted unless expressly prohibited by some provision that satisfies the amended s32 test.
- Amending the right to charge applicants for resource consents under s36(4)(b)(i). so as to ensure the land owners do not end up paying more for a resource consent than the value that will be added to their property.