10 Aug 2013

Home renovation rules to be eased

7:02 pm on 10 August 2013

Home owners will face fewer rules and lower costs when they make alterations to their houses under law changes the Government intends making.

The Government has announced it will introduce legislation amending the Resource Management Act to help speed up the building and renovation of houses.

John Key and Amy Adams announce the changes.

John Key and Amy Adams announce the changes. Photo: RNZ

Prime Minister John Key told the National Party's annual conference in Nelson on Saturday a key part of the changes is about making it easier to build, extend and renovate houses.

Councils will have to provide fixed fee options for certain consents, and where there is only a technical or insignificant variance from plan rules councils will be able to waive the need for resource consent.

The Government will also require councils to follow national rules and to put all their planning requirements into one document. Local authorities will be required to halve the time for processing straightforward applications from 20 to 10 working days.

Mr Key said the changes are about breaking through bureaucracy which delays even simple planning applications. He said National's political opponents like to paint the party as anti-environment, but that is nonsense.

Environment Minister Amy Adams told the conference the changes will speed up the approval of subdivisions, help make housing more affordable and reduce bureaucracy for home owners wanting to alter or extend their houses.

She said for building companies working across a number of local authorities, the rules will be much easier to follow.

"In our view these changes are critical and they represent a long overdue tune up of a 20-year-old act."

Mr Key says making it easier and cheaper for new subdivisions to be developed will take pressure off section prices, particularly in Auckland.

He says National believes housing supply is the problem that needs to be addressed most in making houses more affordable.

Mr Key says he will make further announcements on housing at the conference on Sunday.

Greens fear image damage

The Green Party says the proposed changes would further damage New Zealand's international reputation in the wake of the Fonterra botulism scare.

Green Party MP Eugenie Sage says key principles, such the requirement to maintain the quality of the environment when building, would be removed.

She says that would further dent New Zealand's clean, green image by weakening the country's key environment law at a time when the world is watching its handling of the whey powder contamination.

Outside the conference venue between 300 and 400 protesters spoke against the Government's policies on asset sales, welfare, the Government Communications Security Bureau, education and housing.

Some of the protesters outside the Rutherford Hotel were opposing the Government's support for mining, and the changes it intends making to employment law.