Rotorua Weekender: Reducing bureaucracy: streamlining the Resource Management Act

Friday, December 4, 2015

Unnecessary red tape and bureaucracy can be tiresome. Whilst there will always be some paperwork involved with dealing with Councils and government departments, where possible this should be kept to a minimum.

In May I hosted the Rules Reduction Taskforce in Rotorua and Te Puke. This was an opportunity for local people to talk about the rules that frustrate them the most and how we can best reduce red tape to allow you to get on with your lives and run your businesses with the least amount of interference. The Task Force came up with a number of recommendations which are worth considering, many of which focused on the Resource Management Act and the Building Act.

The RMA is important; it must balance growth and development against the sustainability of resources. It must be a tool that enables, rather than merely restrict or frustrate. This week, the Government announced a reform of the RMA to reduce bureaucracy, improve consistency, create more responsive planning, and simplified consenting.

Often inefficiencies in the process lead to hold ups and delays for large projects that make significant contributions to our local economy or create jobs for people. There are often unreasonable delays for people building new homes which means extra cost. 

The changes will reduce inconsistencies across different local councils. Currently New Zealand has more than 50 different definitions of what is permitted in commercial areas and more than a dozen different ways of measuring the height of a building. National templates will be created for when plans are developed, reducing confusion and irregularities for developers and builders.

Under the current Act the consenting process is often unnecessarily bureaucratic and expensive for those looking to make minor changes. Our reforms will improve proportionality on simple issues by introducing a 10-day time limit on simple, fast track applications.

Delays in gaining consents also have a large financial impact to people building new homes. In fact, some of the biggest contributors to the cost of building a home come down to restrictive land regulation and building consents from councils. Reducing these costs will increase the supply of new houses, meaning more affordable housing for people looking to buy their first home, or upgrade.

These new rules, when implemented, will make the consenting process more efficient and less costly, but will also still balance our responsibilities to protect the environment. These are balanced and fair changes to the RMA. Reducing costs and unnecessary compliance is a must.