Riccarton Racecourse Development Enabling Bill

This Bill is companion legislation to a Local Bill to be known as the Riccarton Racecourse Bill (the Local Bill). Together, the two Bills will provide the necessary authorisations required to enable some 40 hectares of the Riccarton Racecourse in Christchurch to be developed for housing.

The key purpose of this Bill is to increase the supply of affordable and market housing in Christchurch. Following the Canterbury earthquakes in 2010 and 2011, the Christchurch housing market has faced increased pressure from damage to housing stock and increased demand for housing from incoming workers. This pressure has resulted in both house prices and rents increasing significantly when compared to pre-earthquake levels.

At the same time, the Board of Trustees (the Board) that governs the Riccarton Racecourse reserve has been seeking opportunities to make better use of some of the Riccarton Racecourse land for the benefit of racing at Riccarton Racecourse. The Board approached the Government with a proposal to convert part of the racecourse into a housing development. The proposal involves building at least 600 new homes on the site, with 30 per cent of the homes targeted at the more affordable end of the market. Affordable in this context is defined as below the threshold for first home buyers to access the KiwiSaver HomeStart grant, which in Christchurch is currently below $450,000.

Riccarton Racecourse is a racecourse reserve, governed by the Reserves Act 1977 and the Christchurch Racecourse Reserve Act 1878 (the 1878 Act). The 1878 Act is a Local Act that vests land in the Board for the purpose of providing a public racecourse. These Acts pose impediments to the Board’s proposal that can only be addressed by enabling legislation. In addition, the racecourse is subject to Ngāi Tahu’s right of first refusal as set out in Part 9 of the Ngāi Tahu Claims Settlement Act 1998.

In order to achieve the policy objective of increasing the supply of affordable and market housing in Christchurch, the Bill will provide for a development scheme meeting specified minimum requirements to be submitted by the Board to the Minister. A prerequisite for the development scheme’s approval is a deed releasing the Crown from its obligations in relation to Ngāi Tahu’s right of first refusal under its settlement legislation over the development land, while also requiring the Board to grant a right of first refusal over the development land in favour of Ngāi Tahu.

If a development scheme is approved, the Bill will:

  • revoke the reserve status of the land proposed for development; and
  • enable the Board to carry out the residential development of this land; and
  • require a proportion of the housing to be provided at a more affordable price; and
  • provide for compensation to the Crown if the affordable housing is not delivered within a specified time frame.

 

It is a long-established rule of Parliament that any amendment to an Act that has been passed as a Local Act must be promoted as a Local Bill by the relevant local authority. The Board’s housing proposal will require amendments to the 1878 Act in addition to this Bill. These amendments will be made under the Riccarton Racecourse Bill, a Local Bill promoted by the Christchurch City Council.

This Bill and the Local Bill have been designed to work together to achieve the desired policy objective. The Local Bill repeals the 1878 Act and re-enacts those provisions from it that have ongoing relevance, together with the provisions necessary to authorise the housing development. However, as outlined above, before the land is made available for housing, a development scheme must be approved under this Bill. If no scheme is approved within a year of this Bill receiving Royal assent, then both bills are repealed and the status quo under the 1878 Act will remain in place.

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