Specified Development Projects
The Urban Development Act 2020 empowers Kāinga Ora to initiate, facilitate, and undertake urban development that contributes to sustainable, inclusive, and thriving communities.
This includes a comprehensive process for the planning, funding and delivery of complex urban development projects – called Specified Development Projects (SDP).
Projects considered for assessment as a potential SDP
Listed below are projects Kāinga Ora has considered for selection and the outcome of those considerations.
|Date of selection decision||Proposed project||SDP status||S29 recommendation report|
|September 2022||Western Corridor, Tauranga||Selected for assessment||Western Corridor report [PDF, 1.7 MB]|
|August 2022||Northern Growth Area, Porirua||Selected for assessment||Northern Growth Area report [PDF, 1.9 MB]|
|November 2021||Sunfield development, Papakura, Auckland||Not selected for assessment||Sunfield development report [PDF, 2.1 MB]|
What is a Specified Development Project (SDP)?
An SDP is an urban development project with a defined area(s), stated project objectives, and a defined governance body (the three "key features" of an SDP).
It is a way for local and central government to work together with landowners, mana whenua, private developers and the community to plan and deliver on shared urban development aspirations.
An SDP brings together multiple and otherwise separate processes required for urban development and enables them to be accessed through a single, integrated process. Planning, infrastructure, land use, and funding arrangements are sorted upfront through a cohesive and clear development plan. Māori interests, environmental, social, and cultural effects, and historical heritage values are taken into consideration in the process.
The SDP process is likely to be best suited to complex projects that are unable or unlikely to be delivered or developed optimally under existing processes. It works to overcome barriers that have often stopped projects from getting off the ground, such as large areas with multiple landowners, funding constraints, or complex planning challenges.
How do the SDP selection and assessment processes work?
The Urban Development Act sets out a rigorous process that needs to be completed before an SDP can be established and delivery of the project can begin.
An urban development project can be selected for assessment as a potential SDP by either Kāinga Ora or by the responsible Ministers (the Minister of Housing who is responsible for the Act and the Minister of Finance). Any group or body, e.g. iwi, developers or councils, that has a development project they think could be a potential SDP, can discuss their project with the Kāinga Ora SDP team to see if it could benefit from using the SDP process.
If a project is selected for assessment as a potential SDP, the assessment process will generally include early engagement with Māori and key stakeholders, public notice of the key features Kainga Ora is considering for the proposed project, and preparation of a comprehensive project assessment report.
At the end of the assessment process, Kāinga Ora recommends to the responsible Ministers whether the project should established as an SDP. It is then up to the responsible Ministers to decide whether to accept the recommendation.
The Urban Development Act 2020 empowers Kāinga Ora to initiate, facilitate, and undertake urban development that contributes to sustainable, inclusive, and thriving communities. This includes a comprehensive process for the planning, funding and delivery of complex urban development projects – called Specified Development Projects (SDP).
The Urban Development Act 2020(external link), alongside the Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities Act 2019(external link), sets up a framework for transformational urban development to contribute to sustainable, inclusive and thriving communities.
To read the legislation or to find out more, visit the Ministry Of Housing and Urban Development website(external link). If you wish to seek more information about the Urban Development Act, or discuss the possible selection of a project for assessment as a potential SDP, you can email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you wish to seek advice about the Urban Development Act, or discuss the possible selection of a project for assessment, you can email the team at email@example.com We'll contact you to have a discussion about your project, and why it may or may not benefit from the SDP process.
Based on initial discussions, should Kāinga Ora consider that the proposal may benefit from assessment as a potential SDP, we will provide you with specific advice regarding the contents of a proposal document to be considered for project selection.
Once a project has been selected for assessment by either Kāinga Ora, or by responsible Ministers, Kāinga Ora will assess the project’s feasibility and identify proposed key features for the project. Key features include the proposed project objectives, project area and a project governance body for the project. This is a statutory process set out in the Urban Development Act.
To help assess the feasibility of a project, Kāinga Ora is required to identify the constraints and opportunities arise for the project. The matters to be identified are:
- any land that may be protected from development
- nationally significant infrastructure
- any land subject to a conservation interest, part of a coastal marine area or a local Act
- any reserve land owned by the Crown, former Māori land and Right of First Refusal land
- Treaty settlement obligations, participation arrangements and Māori planning documents
- information that local authorities hold on natural hazards or contaminated land within the proposed area
- Māori cultural, archaeological and historic heritage value of the land
- the local authority’s urban growth plans and other planning instruments
- potential funding options for infrastructure
Kāinga Ora must also identify:
- the existing planning instruments and Māori planning documents that apply to the proposed project area; and
- any publicly available reports on climate change matters, prepared in accordance with the Climate Change Response Act 2002 or New Zealand’s obligations under an international treaty, that are relevant to the proposed project area.
Kāinga Ora will engage with Māori and key stakeholders when undertaking a project assessment. Kāinga Ora will also seek expressions of interest from Māori entities in developing any land within the proposed project area in which they have an interest.
Once Kāinga Ora has developed the proposed key features, it must publicly notify these, invite the public to give feedback and consider the feedback received.
In addition to the above, Kāinga Ora will consider all of the following matters when assessing any proposal:
- How will the proposal’s objectives contribute towards sustainable, inclusive and thriving communities?
- Is urban development in the proposed location for the project consistent with national, regional and district plans/spatial plans?
- Does the proposed location for the project include any protected land (refer s17(2) and (4) of the Act) and, if so, what (if anything) is proposed in relation to that land?
- Kāinga Ora will need to check the status of the land that may be subject to right of first refusal and any potential implications for the project.
- What governance structure is proposed for the project and what is the level of experience of these individuals?
After the public notification of the proposed key features has concluded, Kāinga Ora must prepare a project assessment report which either recommends that the project be established as an SDP or recommends that it not be established as an SDP. If the recommendation is to establish the SDP, Kāinga Ora must provide the relevant territorial authority with a copy of the draft project assessment report and invite them to indicate whether they support the recommendation and the key features
Once the assessment process is complete, Kāinga Ora must provide the responsible government Ministers with a project assessment report containing a recommendation on whether the Ministers should establish the project as an SDP (including any response from relevant territorial authorities if appropriate). The responsible government Ministers will then make a decision whether to accept the recommendation. The Act provides a set of criteria that Ministers must consider when deciding whether or not to establish an SDP. This includes:
- Being satisfied the key features are appropriate
- Considering whether the engagement undertaken so far was appropriate, and
- Being satisfied that the project is either supported by the relevant territorial authorities or considering that it is in the national interest.
If the responsible government Ministers decide to recommend the establishment of an SDP, it will be established through an Order in Council and notified in the New Zealand Gazette.
Once an SDP has been established, Kāinga Ora must prepare a draft development plan.
The purpose of a development plan is to detail:
- what the development will look like
- how the development will be delivered
- how any of the functions and powers that are able to be exercised for an SDP are intended to be used including those related to infrastructure delivery and funding mechanisms
- any provisions that modify existing RMA plans and regional policy statements.
Kāinga Ora must also prepare an evaluation report to accompany the draft development plan. Among other things, the evaluation report must examine whether the proposals in the draft development plan are the most appropriate way to achieve the project objectives, assess the benefits and costs of the effects of the proposal as set out in the draft development plan, summarise recommendations received on the draft development plan from Māori entities, and consider environmental matters and details about the proposed infrastructure for an SDP.
Kāinga Ora must satisfy a number of preconditions prescribed in the Act before it can publicly notify the draft development plan and evaluation report. Once these preconditions have been satisfied, the public notice must set out where the draft development plan and evaluation report can be accessed, and the date by which submissions on the draft development plan must be received.
Once the submission period has closed, Kāinga Ora must prepare a report to the IHP that considers the submissions and makes recommendations in response to the same.
The draft development plan, submissions on it, and the recommendations made by Kāinga Ora on those submissions are considered by an Independent Hearings Panel (IHP) consisting of at least three members, including a current or former Environment Court Judge. The IHP then considers this information and makes a recommendation to the Minister about the draft development plan. The Act provides flexibility around the IHP process to allow a range of mechanisms and processes to be tailored to the project in question. The IHP can also hold conferences of experts and alternative dispute resolution processes, commission reports, hear objections, and request evidence and information from Kāinga Ora.
The IHP has nine months from the date the submission period closes to make its recommendations to the Minister responsible for the Act in respect of the draft development plan.
The IHP can recommend to the responsible Minister that the draft development plan is approved in full, approved with specific amendments, or rejected in full.
Any development plan that has been approved by the responsible Minister must be notified in the New Zealand Gazette. This notice will state the day on which the development plan becomes operative. Any person who made a written submission on the draft development plan can appeal to the High Court on a question of law relating to the development plan’s approval, with the final appeal court being the Court of Appeal.
Once the development plan becomes operative, Kāinga Ora can access the development powers for the SDP as set out in the Act, and the development can proceed.
Page updated: 8 September 2023