Updates on legislation
There are several new pieces of legislation relevant to property owners, buyers and developers that are moving slowly through the House. As these bills are still subject to the final stages of the parliamentary process, the proposed laws could change before coming into force – or be discarded altogether. Nevertheless, as some of these bills move closer to their final form, it is useful keeping an eye on their progress.
If you have long-term development plans, feel free to talk with us about how these proposed law changes may affect you and we can help you factor these potential changes into your plans.
Changes to LIM information
Somewhat timely given the recent flooding events across the country, the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Amendment Bill is set to clarify the natural hazard information available through local councils.
A Land Information Memorandum (LIM) is a critical document for property buyers to review as it contains information held on council files about a particular property. It is common for property purchases to be subject to the buyer approving the LIM or for real estate agents to provide the LIM upfront to buyers.
As a component of New Zealand’s National Adaptation Plan regarding climate change, the bill aims to ensure that LIMs across the country have clear and consistent information to help property buyers and owners understand the natural hazard risks for a property, including the potential impacts of climate change. It introduces clearer requirements in law for councils to provide information in LIMs about natural hazards that affect, or may affect, a property and the effects of those hazards. It formalises information-sharing responsibilities between regional and local councils given that regional councils often hold natural hazard information.
Replacement of the Resource Management Act 1991
There is a suite of bills expected to progress through the House that will replace the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA).
Together, the three bills aim to significantly update the existing resource management regime by addressing some current complexities as well as taking better account of issues such as climate change, and the need to improve housing supply and infrastructure.
The three key pieces of proposed legislation are:
- Natural and Built Environment Bill: This is essentially the main replacement for the RMA. Amongst the bill’s many changes, it proposes to shift the resource management regime’s focus from managing adverse effects on the environment to achieving positive outcomes.
The proposed legislation would also see the vast array of national policies and standards consolidated into one single National Planning Framework, and local policies and plans into 14 natural and built environment plans. Once in effect, these changes will alter your approach to applications for resource consents.
- Spatial Planning Bill: The bill proposes the establishment of regional planning committees involving central government, local councils and Māori. These committees will be responsible for long-term regional spatial strategies which will include certain areas in each region being earmarked for development, protection and restoration, or infrastructure improvement.
The strategies should also identify which areas are vulnerable to natural hazards and climate change. As the strategies will be relevant to, say, resource consent decisions, they may affect the likelihood of any plans for the development or use of property being approved.
- Climate Adaptation Bill: This proposed legislation will address climate change issues such as the funding to move communities to avoid natural hazards such as flooding or erosion.
The Local Government Official Information and Meetings Amendment Bill, Natural and Built Environment Bill and Spatial Planning Bill have been moving through the House since November 2022. The relevant Parliamentary Select Committees received public submissions on these bills and are expected to report back to the House on 22 May 2023.
The Climate Adaptation Bill has yet to be introduced to Parliament, but it is expected to begin the process sometime this year.