Resource Management Act's creator Sir Geoffrey Palmer labels it an 'incoherent mess'

Sir Geoffrey Palmer, creator of the Resource Management Act, has labelled it an "incoherent mess" and says he "disowned it" long ago.

The RMA has long been associated with a nightmare when it comes to building property. 

"Takes too long, costs too much," Environment Minister David Parker said.

The Act has had devastating consequences for New Zealand's housing market. 

Property council CEO, Leonie Freeman, says a 20-house development is taking two years to build - more than half that time tied up in resource consents.

David Parker hopes a complete overhaul of the restrictive planning laws will be the answer.

"It's gotta be quicker to change plans, cheaper to get through the RMA, and therefore help us solve the housing crisis," Parker told Newshub.

Written 30 years ago, the Resource Management Act is New Zealand's planning and environmental law. 

Even the architect of the legislation wants nothing more to do with it.

"The Resource Management Act has now meandered through so many amendments that it has become an incoherent mess, and I long ago disowned it," Sir Palmer told Newshub.

It's not just the housing problem. The RMA reform will be heavily focused on the environment and mitigating the impacts of climate change. 

"Freshwater has gone backwards in New Zealand because it's taken so long to change RMA plans. That's really serious for most New Zealanders because, in the meantime, the places where they're used to swimming have got too polluted," says Parker.

One option is to split the law by separating the urban planning laws from the environmental protection laws.

However, this is not easy, and previous governments have tried and failed. The Environment Minister has enlisted a working group of five to review it, but it definitely won't be sorted before the next election.

"I'd love to be able to fix it on the back of an envelope, but I can't," says Parker.

The reformation of the RMA is a mammoth task, and there is another mammoth obstacle.

Three Government partners all have very different ideas about how a new and improved RMA should look - on Maori land, water rights, and climate change impacts, NZ First and the Greens simply cannot agree.