There’s a new pathway for complex urban development projects in New Zealand.

Building vibrant urban communities

Parliament has enacted the Urban Development Act 2020, offering a new way of planning and consenting integrated urban development through the Specified Development Project (SDP) process.

This means anyone seeking to undertake complex urban development – for example, communities, developers, Māori and other landowners – can consider this option for their projects.

These pages provide an introduction to this new option, and how Kāinga Ora can help you decide whether this new pathway might be right for your development.

Please note though that in most cases, your local council is still likely to be your first port of call when considering ways to promote urban development in an area.

Working with Kāinga Ora to establish an SDP requires an assessment of specific criteria, and involves a rigorous process. However, once established, an SDP can help streamline the delivery of urban development. An SDP could be delivered by Kāinga Ora in partnership with a Crown agency or third parties.

Kāinga Ora is already leading a number of large-scale urban developments, and these will continue under existing frameworks. SDPs may be used for existing  projects or future development.

What is a Specified Development Project

The Urban Development Act 2020 (the Act) gives Kāinga Ora the ability to facilitate growth through a new type of urban development project known as a Specified Development Project.

SDPs are able to deliver improved urban development outcomes, including a mix of housing types, transport connections, employment and business opportunities, key infrastructure, community facilities, and green spaces. They can be used to progress the kinds of projects that have historically struggled due to barriers like fragmented land parcels, uncoordinated decision-making processes, and poor and aging infrastructure.

The value of the SDP process is that it brings together multiple, disconnected processes required for urban development and enables them to be accessed through a single, more streamlined process - without losing important checks and balances. This results in the planning, infrastructure and funding for a project being agreed up front, providing greater certainty and coordination for developers and investors.

The Act sets out a rigorous process that must be completed before the delivery of an SDP can begin. This will mean that projects can be shaped by local needs and aspirations, and the benefits of urban development are balanced against environmental, cultural and heritage considerations.

Key features of this process include early engagement with Māori and key stakeholders, and full public consultation on the draft development plan. The obligations of Kāinga Ora with respect to Māori when it comes to urban development can be more fully understood by reading the Act in conjunction with the Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities Act 2019.

What is Kāinga Ora’s role in establishing an SDP

The Act provides new functions and powers for Kāinga Ora to help it deliver the government’s vision for sustainable, inclusive and thriving communities.  

Once Kāinga Ora receives your completed SDP proposal form [PDF, 583 KB], its team will review your application and may undertake further due diligence on your proposal.

Once Kāinga Ora has completed its review of your proposal it will make a decision in terms of selecting the project for assessment.  If your project is selected for assessment, it will prepare a project assessment report for the responsible government Ministers to consider as set out above.

When does the development plan become operative?

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 and its partners can access the development powers for the SDP as set out in the development plan, and undertake the development.

About the Urban Development Act

The Urban Development Act 2020, alongside the Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities Act 2019, sets up a framework for Kāinga Ora to initiate, facilitate or undertake transformational urban development that contributes to sustainable, inclusive and thriving communities.

To read the legislation or to find out more about the Act, visit the Ministry Of Housing and Urban Development(external link) website

Page updated: 16 November 2020