Development Bill opposed by ORC

Michael Laws
Michael Laws
The Otago Regional Council is opposing ‘‘extraordinary powers’’ proposed for a new Crown agency to establish housing and urban development projects throughout New Zealand.

Yesterday, councillors voted to approve ORC urban growth and development team leader Kyle Balderston’s submission on the Government’s Urban Development Bill — but with one change.

Rather than offering ‘‘general support’’ of the Bill’s intent, the council will oppose it.

Cr Michael Laws said the Bill was one of many ‘‘dumped’’ on the council by the Government in the lead-up to Christmas.

And the Government, he said, was not ‘‘sincere’’ about the consultation.

‘‘The truth is ... this is an appalling piece of legislation,’’ Cr Laws said.

‘‘It strips rights away from private individuals.’’

The New Zealand Parliament website says the ‘‘overarching aim’’ of the Bill is to give Kainga Ora-Homes and Communities — which last year replaced Housing New Zealand — a ‘‘tool-kit’’ of powers when establishing complex urban development projects and land acquisition powers.

Mr Balderston’s report to councillors warned against the proposed extraordinary powers Kainga Ora would have to acquire land without revealing the project it planned.

‘‘This effectively amounts to insider trading, using prior knowledge and the compulsive powers of the state to deprive current owners of windfall gains they would have otherwise made, for the sole purpose of minimising the state’s expenditure,’’ he writes.

‘‘This is an ulterior purpose, and not a legitimate justification or proper use of this extraordinary power.’’

The ORC submission also said that in the case of ministerial-directed specified development projects, it should not then be the minister who approved the project, ‘‘to separate the proposing minister from being the decision maker on their own proposal’’.

The council called for the proposed Bill to make sure Kainga Ora sought the views of affected local authorities well before projects were announced.

ORC chairwoman Marian Hobbs and Cr Bryan Scott voted against council opposition to the Bill.

Cr Andrew Noone sent apologies.

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