New legislation to fast-track resource consent for projects including papakāinga development, will speed up the supply of warm, healthy homes, boost the Māori economy and New Zealand's response to COVID-19.
The COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-track Consenting) Act 2020 means resource consents can be processed much faster than the usual four to six-month period.
The Act establishes new and fast-tracked consenting and designation processes for infrastructure and development projects. It also means specific work on existing infrastructure can happen without the need for resource consent.
The Act came into effect on 9 July 2020 and the fast-tracking process will be available for two years, until 8 July 2022.
Who can apply?
Anyone can apply to the Minister for the Environment to use the fast-track consenting process, this includes whānau, hapū, iwi and/or Māori entities.
Once an application is received, the Minister for the Environment will consider how closely the project meets the criteria of the Act including;
- the economic benefits for communities or industries affected by COVID-19
- its effect on social and cultural wellbeing now and into the future
- whether the project’s timeline will benefit from the fast track process
- how much the public would benefit from the project.
Does approval for fast-tracking mean automatic funding from Te Puni Kōkiri to complete the project?
No. A project getting fast-tracked through the Act only speeds up the resource consent process. It does not guarantee any support for the project from Te Puni Kōkiri or enable you to receive funds for approved projects any sooner.
Once a project has resource consent, funding to complete that project is a separate matter. Anyone applying for support from Te Puni Kōkiri for the project still needs to follow the funding application process that was in place before the Act was legislated.
Do I need expert advice to apply for fast-tracking?
Anyone wanting to take up this opportunity should get professional advice from a planning consultant. They can act as your “project manager” and liaise with the other consultants and the Council on your behalf. They will be able to let you know which other consultants may need to come on board. There will be a cost for their professional advice.
Have any papakāinga developments been approved for fast-tracking?
When the Act was passed in July 2020, six papakāinga developments were approved or ‘listed’ in the Act. All of them had either already been submitted for resource consent or were immediately ready to do so when the Act was passed. In each case initial planning was done, and the type and number of buildings were confirmed.
The projects include developments in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Taranaki, Chatham Islands and Christchurch.
Now the Act is in force, other papakāinga projects may apply to the Minister for the Environment to use the fast-track consenting process.
How were the first six approved papakāinga projects chosen?
The Environment Protection Authority manages the fast-track process alongside the Ministry for the Environment.
When the Ministry for the Environment was developing the COVID-19 Recovery (Fast-Track Consenting) legislation, it invited Te Puni Kōkiri (and others) to nominate projects that could be included.
Te Puni Kōkiri nominated a “network of papakāinga”. The Papakāinga Network Development of six developments is now among 11 fast-tracked projects listed in the Act.
The Ministry for the Environment set the criteria of listing only shovel-ready projects. All six papakāinga that were selected met that criteria. The projects were ‘shovel-ready’, spread across the motu, a mix of urban and rural, will create employment and training opportunities and contribute to regional and economic stimulus. The sites are Māori-led, either by whānau, hapū, iwi or Māori entity, with support from Te Puni Kōkiri.
Why are papakāinga developments eligible for fast-tracking?
Including papakāinga in the Act recognises the value of papakāinga for whānau, hapū and iwi. These benefits include:
- providing security, connection, physical and mental wellbeing for whānau
- improving wellbeing and building resilience against adverse events like the COVID-19 pandemic
- providing vital connection for whānau, especially in caring for vulnerable kaumātua and tamariki – having their own home gives whānau a sense of more control over their own lives
- retaining and expanding the workforce, especially in rural areas.
Speeding up the process will see whānau, hapū, iwi and Māori entities’ approved projects move through the consenting process much quicker, so they can progress their developments as soon as they are ready.