Government's ability to seize land for KiwiBuild raises concerns

The Housing Minister is insisting private property rights won't be undermined by an upcoming law allowing the Government to confiscate land for KiwiBuild. 

KiwiBuild is seriously struggling to gain momentum, and Housing Minister Phil Twyford has a trick up his sleeve that he hopes will bring the scheme back to life: an Urban Development Authority. 

But his officials have warned it will have a detrimental impact - made worse by the fact private companies or people could make money off the land grab. 

The minister is working on legislation to give the Urban Development Authority powers to build quickly - including the ability to force landowners to sell up if they need the land for housing.

The Government can already do this for things like roads, schools and other infrastructure. 

"We expect that compulsory acquisition will be the exception rather than the rule," Mr Twyford said. 

But Newshub can reveal his officials have warned the law he's drafting will increase the frequency with which these powers are used. 

Property commentator Ashley Church says the agency will be too powerful. 

"The scary aspects of it are that it's going to be able to do much more quickly things that we've either expected to be able to consult on or which impact on our private property rights in a way."

Officials have warned that a drop in public confidence in property rights would be exacerbated by the fact the model proposed enables private actors to make a financial gain - that means developers profiting from Government land grabs. 

"I think this is the key issue, and I think it's why there is no history of doing this in New Zealand until now," Mr Church said. 

Mr Twyford is looking at new ways of compensating landowners the Government forces out, including offering up shares in the new development. 

It's yet another incentive to try getting KiwiBuild off the ground. 


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