Fast track homes delight Clarkson

By Kiri Gillespie


Tauranga developer Bob Clarkson is "absolutely rapt" at new housing measures allowing the Government to take over resource consents from local councils in efforts to speed up the building process.

Legislation to streamline new housing developments was announced in yesterday's Budget, allowing the Government to establish "special housing areas" and issue consents if needed.

Mr Clarkson told the Bay of Plenty Times the announcement was a personal victory.

He has for some time fought a losing battle to get his land at Tauriko rezoned for residential development, despite offering affordable housing to try and fast-track the subdivision plans.

The land overlaps the boundaries of Tauranga City Council and Western Bay of Plenty District Council.

Mr Clarkson said he had been liaising with Finance Minister Bill English's office about the issue as recently as this week.

"I've been waiting with bated breath for this," he said.

Mr Clarkson said building affordable homes for people who needed them was part of his Bucket List. "I'm absolutely rapt. They are doing what I originally said."

Tauranga acting Mayor David Stewart said the last time Government tried to speed up the housing industry, homeowners ended up with leaky buildings.

Mr Stewart said there were reasons why resource consents took time - "to make sure it's right". The new legislation "could be really fraught with problems", he said.

"I liken it to leaky buildings. That has cost us a lot of money and that's a real concern. It's something we need to be keeping a very careful eye on."

Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Ross Paterson said government-imposed restrictions relating to leaky building prevention and earthquake strengthening meant consents took longer.

"If they want to speed up the process, maybe they could look at their own legislation," Mr Paterson said.

The Lakes subdivision managing director Scott Adams said: "If resource consent can be streamlined by going over local government's heads to central government, I would support that."

Housing Minister Nick Smith said the new legislation would help housing where it was least affordable and the Government's first preference was to partner with councils to improve housing affordability.


What do the new housing measurements mean?

The legislation will apply for three years and allows special housing areas to be designated under accords between the Government and councils. Council approvals for new housing in those areas can then be managed under a streamlined process.

The first accord has been agreed with the Auckland Council and the first special housing areas are expected to be designated later this year.

Budget 2013 includes $7.2 million over four years to help the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment fund the initiative.

The legislation will go through its first reading as part of Budget 2013 before being sent to a select committee for a shortened six-week timetable for urgent consideration and progress.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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