So the National Party’s pet pit bull, Nick Smith, has launched the first attack on the RMA last night in Nelson. According to Smith, the RMA has been the cause of 40,000 houses not being built, and has cost taxpayers 30 billion. As well as that, the RMA apparently adds on about $30,000 in cost per house. Wow. It sounds terrible. Let’s delete this rogue legislation immediately.

But hold on.

Is it true?

Is any of that true?

Have you ever been charged $30,000 for a Resource Consent application? Has anyone? Is that not, like, an exaggeration? Or just a lie? Apparently, at the present time, 94% of Resource Consent applications for a new house go through in a Non-Notified manner. And of course, by far the vast majority of houses go through the system not needing to apply for Resource Consent at all. That has already been done at Subdivision phase (where, admittedly, they will have paid for a Consent fee for Subdivision), and they may have also paid a fee for a Development levy, which goes to the Council to help them afford all the new infrastructure that goes with the subdivision. That helps pay for the roads, the sewerage drains, the fresh water and electricity to the property etc. Sometimes developers put all that in themselves, so they don’t have to pay the Council to do it, which can be good if they want a higher standard, but sometimes backfires if they are trying to skimp on matters. There are fees here, but I don’t have figures on how much this phase costs.

For the most part though, it seems that no RC fees are required at all. Most houses won’t need RC, and of those that do, most go through as Non-Notified. So only a tiny fraction of houses actually need to pay a large RC fee for a full Notified RC application. How much is that? Surely, it must be huge, for Mr Smith to get so excited at the prospect of saving so much money? The Councils must surely be clawing it back, charging like a wounded bull, beating the poor defenseless homeowner with a huge levy cost?

Let’s have a look, shall we? What does Wellington charge? They say:
Non-notified: $ 1,500
Limited notification: $ 8,000
Full notification: $ 15,000

Well, that seems like a lot, but it’s only half of what Smith says. And have you ever had a full notification charge levied against a single house? As far as I am aware, I’ve not seen a single house get Fully Notified, in Wellington in the last decade. Yes, some apartment buildings do, but this $15,000 fee is spread out over the whole lot of apartments, so the amount per apartment is pretty small.

And Porirua? They say:
Non-notified: $ 1,450
Limited notification: $ 4,350
Full notification: $ 4,350

What about Hutt City? Their page says:
Non-notified: $ 1,200
Limited notification: $ 4,650
Full notification: $ 6,150

So, not much truth there then. What about Auckland, the world’s 8th most unliveable city? How much does it cost there? Their council website says:
Oh God, kill me now. 9 pages of figures. Life is too short.

I think I have discovered the true reason why nobody is building in Auckland. It’s not the RMA. It’s the paperwork. You need the patience of a saint and the tenacity of a bulldog to get through that. How much is it? Well, it depends. By the time you have finished the process, to ascertain how much the process will cost, your time will be up.

Aucklanders. Your super city super stinks.

Post-Script: if you want to read the original report by Motu, which Smith bases his figures and rhetoric on, then click here for a link.